I feel terrible leaving everyone hanging for so long, but we have been walking our asses off.
So, where were we. Oh yes, the end of a fifty three mile day and the end of California. All that remained to us was about 268 miles of Washington. After a long strange train ride (it felt more like we were riding the Greyhound Bus, if you know what mean) and a day at home readying our last couple of boxes, rewaterproofing our gear, and preparing for our last ten days on trail, we headed back to Snoqualmie Pass to finally start hiking north again.
My parents dropped us off at the tailhead, and after snapping a few quick pics we were off. How good it felt to be walking north again. Everyone knows exactly what you are doing, no one assume you are Southbounders and attempts to give you unwarranted advice, and there is never any need to explain the confusing way in which we were doing the trail. Just simple. Just walking north. Just heading toward Canada.
At the pass there were clouds in the morning, obscuring the peaks from view and making the drop offs at Kendals Catwalk (a notoriously exposed section of trail that a trail crew blasted out of solid rock) a little less scary. We got drizzled on for a hot second and hiked around numerous day hikers until after the Catwalk, when most people faded away or began to stop for camp. Not us, we still had another twenty some miles to hike that day. As we forged on into the cold and the rain the clouds began to lift, until they were only capping the tops of the mountains, revealing lakes at their bases. The mountains out of Snoqualmie Pass are craggy and sharp, irregular and unique. They layer upon eachother, glaciers tucked away in their darkest ravines. Everywhere you look, mountains, meaning everywhere you walk, another mountain pass to climb. The beauty kept us going, our packs were heavier than we were used too, we had added some clothing (Kyle hadn’t added nearly enough in my opinion) and we had food to last us until Stevens Pass.
The trail was steep, much steeper than Northern California and it was a shock to our legs, which felt like they were filled with lead after what basically amounted to three full zero days (the miles we did on our travel day to Dunsmuir hardly counted). Kyle’s situation was made worse by a knee pain that flared up about five minutes into hiking and stayed with him throughout the day. You know what we always say though: walk it off! So we hobbled along on our concrete legs, willing them to keep climbing. We were headed for a high alpine lake which meant right at the end of the day we were treated to a massive climb. As the sunlight faded we climbed, the sound of elk bugling urging us on, and finally, in the dark and the cold, we spied the little side trail that led to the camping on the shores of a pretty little lake at the bottom of a huge granite rock slide. We set up quickly, cooked dinner, and snuggled down into our tent, back in the wilderness again. The stars were big and bright, our noses freezing cold, and our ears pearked, even in our sleep, listening for bears but hearing only deer.