September 11, 2015
Snoqualamie Pass (2401.9) to Seasonal stream past Lemah Meadow trail junction (2424.7)
22.8 PCT miles today
2459.3 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 6,180 ft, – 6,029 ft
For Pickles and I, there’s no better morale booster than above-tree line trails and epic mountain vistas. It felt like Washington changed drastically as soon as we crossed over Hwy 90. Instead of walking through hundreds of miles of tree tunnels (not to mention thick grey clouds and fog), today we found ourselves scaling up the sides of mountains, skirting along narrow traverses, plowing through rock fields, photographing crystal clear alpine lakes, and of course, staring out at seemingly endless ranges of craggy mountains. This is our kind of hiking, and it has gotten us quite excited about what else this state might have in store, especially if it chooses to stay clear.
This morning was a bit rough. No one wants to wake up early in a hotel room, pack up all their things, and then get on trail as early as possible in order to get in around 25 miles of hiking. Our original plan was to be on trail by 7am, but after taking showers and rushing around the room packing, our stomachs were growling and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to fill up on some non-camp food. We didn’t go full-on restaurant, but we did spend about 20 minutes in a convenience store/deli eating a make-shift breakfast and drinking coffee. By the time we got on trail it was 8:30 and already quite warm out.
We entered Alpine Lake Wilderness almost immediately, and looked forward to seeing a few of the promised ponds. But first, we had to climb. Both Pickles and I felt great all morning and actually really enjoyed the 6-mile climb up into the mountains. We found a perfect lunch spot in the shade near a hidden spring, and then just as we were about ready to hike on, were joined by our friend Caveman.
The rest of the day was a bit more brutal on the feet and legs, with tons of boulder fields and the hot sun beating down on us, but we were treated to a special surprise when we came upon Delate Waterfall toward the end of the day. By this time, my right foot was hurting pretty badly (more on this another day), but we only had a bit more downhill left, so Pickles, Caveman, and I mustered our strength and hiked on, right up until we crossed Lemah Creek only to realize that we were no longer on the official PCT. We weren’t sure where we missed the turn, but a sign pointed us down a trail 3/4 mile to the PCT and Pickles and I followed that while Caveman chose to backtrack. Our trail met right back up with the PCT and within a mile we were finally at camp.
The day’s mileage doesn’t accurately reflect the difficulty level, but I suppose if you look at our elevation gain and loss then it makes more sense. We’re both pretty beat, but we’re also thrilled with the change in scenery and quite happy to have seen actual glaciers and glacial lakes today. It almost feels like a little piece of the High Sierras way up here in the Cascades, and it makes every step that much more delightful.