Snoqualmie Pass to Skykomish

August 13, 2014

Start: Halfmile 2402.0
End: Goldmyer Alternate Mile 15.0 (of 26.5)
Distance: 15.0 Mi
Cumulative: 2,458.0 Mi

First things first. Another one year anniversary, this time of my relationship with my dear, sweet Cassie Jane. Happy anniversary, my love! Looking forward to many more. Can’t wait to see you in Canada!

We weren’t exactly raring to go this morning. Still rainy and grey with a forecast that unfortunately isn’t anymore promising. Picked up my “sweet and salty” resupply last night at Chevron. Literally junk food for three days: jerky, cheez-its, goldfish, cookies, and candy. Looks like I chose the right time for it. I may need the comfort food. And besides, when will I get to do something like this again?!

Met John for breakfast this morning. So good to see another old friend. I’ve been lucky to see so many this summer. Thanks for making the trip, John! And for breakfast, and for the iodine, and the morale boost. Nearly there now. Just two more stops before Canada!

Left around 1130a. We climbed up, up and up into the clouds. I’d been dreading it, but it was actually kinda cool. Not like three days cool, but like three hours cool. I dunno how I’m gonna get good photos. Everything looks the same when it’s socked in. I’ll have to be lucky, I guess. Hope it’s not like this the rest of the way.

We took the Goldmyer Alternate out of town. I didn’t know anything about it, except that it included hot springs. I hated to miss the catwalk, but figured at least the hot springs weren’t weather-dependent, so I played it safe. Didn’t know there was a fee, or I would’ve just stayed on the PCT. Paid it, because I figured it was silly to do an alternate and not enjoy the main attraction. Good investment, actually. The springs were small but cool. I had the place mostly to myself anyways. (One advantage of the iffy weather.) Wouldn’t do it again, but didn’t feel it was a total loss either. It was nice to soak for a few hours.

We only did 15 miles today, but the alternate saved 9 PCT miles, so that made up for it. Camped on a raised tent pad at a primitive horse camp tonight, so bring on the rain if it’s comin’. I ain’t scurred.


August 14, 2014

Start: Goldmyer Alternate Mile 15.0 (of 26.5)
End: Halfmile 2456.0
Distance: 11.5 + 18.0 = 29.5 Mi
Cumulative: 2,487.5 Mi

My alarm went off at 515a. The pitter-patter of rain convinced me to re-set it for 615a, then hit snooze a few times. Off to a good start. Everyone else was already gone when I finally emerged from my tent. It was foggy and cloudy; moisture hung thick in the air. But it wasn’t raining. And yet, no views today, not a one. Not even enough to feel like I was missing something. Just grey and a few trees. I had hoped that being here in August would be my saving grace, but it seems the rainy season may have arrived a bit early this year. Still, there is nowhere I’d rather be.

There was a “potentially dangerous ford” noted on Halfmile’s maps today. And it was. Crossed a raging drainage on two tooth picks, afraid with each step that either might splinter and fall into the torrent below, taking me with it. I was ahead of Mountain Goat but figured she wouldn’t wanna face that crossing alone, so I waited. It was pretty sketch. But it was also gorgeous and kinda cool. In fact, the coolest thing I’d seen or done for a few days. And even fun, believe it or not. (Sorta.)

You’ll never believe this next bit, but she and I saw a cougar today at lunch. I know what you’re thinking. Yeah, right. Three in one summer – no way, no how. But I’m for real. He was picking his way down the opposite mountainside. He may have been a quarter mile away as the crow flies, but his tan color contrasted clearly against the rocky slope, his cat-like posture as clear as his coat. He was big. And the way he moved, like nothing else does. His steps were calm and deliberate, an exercise in poise and agility. I could almost see him peering over at us, likely wondering whether we saw him too. Then he was gone, disappeared in the trees. And that was that. How-freaking-cool.

I know how it sounds – how unlikely it is – but I don’t care. I’m certain of what I saw. Maybe I should change my name to Cougar Bait. They seem to like me.


August 15, 2014

Start: Halfmile 2456.0
End: Halfmile 2476.0
Distance: 20.0 Mi
Cumulative: 2,507.5 Mi

Crushed to the Dinsmore’s this morning. Twenty miles felt like five. Cruising, hard.

I woke up ready to be warm, dry, clean, and fed. Donned my cold, wet clothes, packed my wet gear, and rolled out. It rained hard last night as we were nearing camp. We were soaked within minutes, but fortunately it let up just as we arrived. Managed to get set up and stripped down during the lull. Lying in my tent now, damp but not soaked. No complaints.

There was enough of a view this morning to take the sting out of the last few days, but not enough to make up for what I know I missed. It was kind of a tease, actually. But a beautiful tease. It was majestic and tragic all at once. I just stood there, admiring the way the clouds settled in the valley, the way I could almost see the snow-capped northern Cascades towering above them. Almost, were it not for the persistent fog that shrouded them. And me.

In willing myself not to be bitter, I realized that the weather isn’t at fault for my attitude. My expectations are. Time to let go of those expectations and embrace the wild, untamed, free-willed nature of the outdoors. It’s a wonderful privilege to be out here, even in the rain. I just need to remember that this can be fun. I can’t control the weather, but I most certainly can control my experience in it.

Managed to get to the post office this afternoon in time to pick up a few much-appreciated care packages. It’s a helluva morale boost when the postmaster hands you a stack of six packages, even if one of them is a resupply box. I’m loved! Thank you so much JD, Kate, Mommy, and Gramma for the socks, treats, lunch money, and words of love and encouragement. And to Becca and Rachel for the latter.

Smiling so big right now.