9.7.18. 3.4 PCT miles, 15 alternate miles, 18.4 total.
So many feelings about today!
The morning started off wonderfully. The sunrise was gorgeous, the alpenglow on Mt. Adams was amazing, and continuing deeper into Goat Rocks was awesome. The climbing was steep and rough, and even involved 2 icy snow fields, but the views were incredible. When I saw Mt. Rainier, my heart skipped a beat.
I kept climbing, more than the PCT because I wanted to do the “Old Snowy” hiker alternate, which is a short but steep climb up to Old Snowy mountain, and has an even more amazing view of the Knife’s Edge portion of the trail and Mt. Rainier and the surrounding mountains. Another super cool sight was seeing the fires burning in the mountains.
After going up Old Snowy, it was time to come down, which took forever. Basically, everything took forever today because of how steep the trail was. This was a combination of steepness and loose rock and shale and steep drop offs on each side. After that descent, I had a couple more short, steep ascents and descents on the Knife’s Edge, and then a much gentler descent down to Elk Pass, where the PCT was closed due to the proximity to the fires burning.
Here, I started the approximately 15 mile (according to my Gaia GPS app) alternate to highway 12. In short, the alternate was rough. The first half was a combination of longer downs & ups that were very steep. Then there was a nicer downhill to Lost Lake, and I ate my lunch a little bit past there. After that, there was a big climb up to the ridge, where I had great views of Mt. Rainier, but the climb was exposed and again, I was sluggish after lunch. After that, there was a beautiful, but very steep downhill, followed by some steep, undulating trail. I took a lot of breaks, mainly by eating wild blueberries on the side of the trail. Finally, the trail seemed to be going downhill, though it was pretty rooty. I reached a small creek and filtered water, then continued on. I knew there was a river I needed to cross at one point, and I came up to it, and couldn’t find a log/ was too lazy to bushwhack upstream to find a good one, so I attempted to rock hop but ended up just fording the river. Ending my day in wet feet. Nice. I thought for some reason, the trail would be downhill to the highway, since it’s always like that, but in this case, the trail was uphill all the way from the river to the highway, at least another 0.5 mile, but it felt like more.
I got to the road at 6:30, exhausted. I started the alternate at 9:45 am. It took 9 hours to go 15 miles, which is a much slower pace than I can do on the PCT. This alternate made me appreciate the work that goes into maintaining the PCT and how nice the grade is. I can only hope that the next 2 fire closure alternates in Washington aren’t as miserable. I was incredibly happy to see Macro at the road, along with a ride, with his buddy! They gave me a ride to White Pass, and I got there just in time before they closed to grab my package and some extra snacks. I hadn’t intended on staying in a room here, but I was so exhausted and wanted a shower, so I walked over to the condos next door and got a room for the night. I showered, ate my extra dinner (Mac & cheese), drank my soda, and talked to my parents on the phone before crawling into bed and watching Friends before falling asleep.