White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass

White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass

August 11, 2014

Start: Halfmile 2329.0
End: Halfmile 2360.0
Distance: 31.0 Mi
Cumulative: 2,401.0 Mi

Seemed hazy as I entered Mt. Rainier National Park this morning. Rainier was beautiful; she kept peering at me over nearby ridges as I made my way north. My wide angle lens didn’t do me any favors today, but you can’t win ’em all. Some scenes are more beautiful because you can’t capture them. They’re fleeting.

Took an early lunch today. It was awesome. Came to a spring pouring right out of the mountainside. Clear, cold, piped. Didn’t treat this stuff. May have been a mistake, but it just seemed a travesty to add iodine to such a pristine source. (The old Steri Pen isn’t cooperating.) Enjoyed the shade and soft ground this afternoon. It’s true the miles won’t do themselves, but they’re not going anywhere either. They’ll keep for an hour, I thought as I laid back and pulled my cap over my face. And wouldn’t ya know they were still there when I woke up. Onward to Canada!

Weather started to build overhead as the day wore on, and I could see smoke billowing up from a wildfire beyond a nearby ridge – not the conditions I had hoped for here in Washington. “Smoky” and “cloudy” may be the adjectives that describe my last days on trail. But hopefully “re-route” and “drenched” won’t be. Currently set up nicely in camp listening to the intermittent thunder. Dry and happy on the PCT…for the time being.

August 12, 2014

Start: Halfmile 2360.0
End: Halfmile 2402.0
Distance: 42.0 Mi
Cumulative: 2,443.0 Mi

Here I am at the Summit Inn at Snoqualmie Pass with Mountain Goat and Happy Pants. It wasn’t my game plan, but plans have a funny way of changing out here.

Last night was great, despite the rain. It pays to set up early…when you do it right. I was warm and dry all night. Heard a lull in the weather about 4a this morning, so I got up early, packed up dry, and started my day happy. The sky was still foreboding, a mess of smoke and clouds, no way to tell the difference. The conflicting smells of fire and rain filled my nostrils. I decided to shoot for the pass if the weather got nasty. About 430p, the thunder started, deep and throaty. I pressed on, determined to get to and set up camp before the storm assailed me.

Success, or so I thought. I set up short of my original goal, mile 2,393 rather than 2,397. I thought I was doing well to play the long game: stay dry and make up the miles with another early start. It sounded good in my head. And indeed, it was an excellent plan, just poorly executed. Every site looks good when it’s dry. I set up in an established site near Mirror Lake.

I was in my tent when the rain began to tap-tap-tap on my tent. I smiled to myself, happy with my decision to call it early. The light rain rapidly devolved into a heavy downpour, a battle of epic proportions. It didn’t take long for a river to form underneath my tent. It was flowing and my ground cloth undulated with the surging current. Holy eff, this is gonna get ugly. I knew if it didn’t let up fast, I’d be in trouble. When my flip flops started to float away, I knew my situation was hopeless. It was out of control, comical even. First I laughed, then I cried, then I resigned myself to do what was necessary, however unpleasant. I packed up, doing my best to waterproof the essentials: camera, journal, puffy, quilt. Everything else be damned; triage.

Turns out I had set up right on the fall line and in a drainage. Oh, god. What a rookie move, especially knowing that weather was coming in. Can’t believe I didn’t look more critically. It’s not like I was racing the rain yet. I had time; I just spaced. More lessons learned – and reinforced – the hard way.

I pushed hard for Snoqualmie, knowing that the next 9 miles would be miserable. I was cursing my stupidity, and even cursing the decision to stop at all. I would’ve been here an hour earlier and been more dry if I’d simply kept going. But I was being cheap. I didn’t wanna spend $50 on a room, even though I could afford it. Turns out I spent the money anyways and would’ve gotten a better value if I’d committed to doing so earlier. Something about hindsight being 20-20. Just gotta do the best you can with the information you’ve got. That’s what I did, so I can’t be too mad. Anyways, I’m here now.

Looks like I need to get used to being wet. And better at choosing camp sites. The weather is looking like more of the same as we head north to Skykomish. It’s gonna be an interesting three days. Bring it!