The hike out of White Pass into Goat Rocks Wilderness is a long steep climb, switch backing up into the mountain and then all the way back down before heading up to the Knife’s Edge. At the top of the first climb we were able to see into the snow coated mountains beyond. Snow continued to cling to the sides of the mountains beyond, hiding in the concaves and divets from the sun. We couldn’t yet see where we could wind through the peaks on the Knife’s Edge but it was exciting to see so much so after so long. We knew the Knife’s Edge itself was in good shape thanks to a picture posted to Facebook, but we were still anxious to get there.
After our second climb of the day we found ourselves up in the high parks of Goat Rocks. Huge expanses of open grasses, scrubby pine trees, snow patches lingering and wild flowers covering the slopes. Water was everywhere and we filled up before a break on a ridge where we had an incredible view of Rainier, dense clouds building and dissipating around it.
After our break we began Knife’s Edge. Basically the trail follows a ridge line up and down through the snow covered peaks and towards Old Snowy, before ending up in the mellower flats on the other side. The ridge it follows has steep drop offs on both sides for most its length. Far bellow a river cuts a steep canyon into the crumbly volcanic rock. That same rock makes the trail narrow and unstable, especially on the downhills where it can often feel like you are attempting to stay upright on a trail covered in marbles. Just as we were entering the Edge we could see that far on the other side we would have at least two patches of snow to cross which didn’t look like they had great run out, but often things look better close up than they do from far away. A man we met coming off of the Edge told us it was the most terrifying day of his hike, he was scared of heights, and that he wouldn’t have been able to do the snow without his spikes, but after the Sierras in trail runners little worries us when it comes to snow, especially in the middle of the day when the snow is soft.
The Knife’s Edge was exhilarating, providing a lot of pucker factor as we traversed its airy windy length. The pictures don’t quite do it justice, so I just highly recommend it to everyone, a truly special stretch of trail. There is an option to hike Old Snowy but on a thru hike you rarely take side trails and I would rather tag Old Snowy in the snow so we continued on. The two snow patches turned out to be no big deal, although getting onto the first one was tricky, requiring a little bit of a hop off of the unstable volcanic choss above and over the moat that was forming between the rock and the snow. After the last snow patch we came over a small rise to an incredible sight of Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens. From that spot we could see all three volcanoes. We stood in awe of everything that surrounded us. We had a hard time leaving that spot.
We made our way down slowly, gasping at the sight of Goat Lake and all the amazing parks that surrounded us. We decided to eat dinner by a little stream with a good view of Adams and even though we were supposed to go further we had to stop when we found an amazing campsite where we would see every shade of sunset on Adams’ slopes. We vowed to get up early for a long thirty mile day after stopping early for a great camping spot, but sometimes you just have to take advantage of the beauty around and decide to stay.
P.S. As you can see Kyle’s shirt is growing in a mini dress. So that’s weird.