Location- Side of Lake
Elevation- 5,423 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 24.1 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 2,290.3 miles
Weather/Temp- clear 50s 60s windy
Pain level- low
Days without shower- 9
Today rocked, literally and figuratively. Rocks of all shapes and sizes began cropping up almost immediately.
I had a plan for Katana’s paws; let her tackle the milder rocks, then carry her over the bad stuff, or the really long stretches. I can’t protect her from everything, and her paws will never toughen up if we don’t expose them to some rough terrain, but I’m also not going to throw her in the fire, just briefly drop her in the frying pan. Besides, this was the perfect day to do this, because I plan to take a very small nearo day tomorrow to let her rest.
So out of the 24 miles we hiked today, I carried her for maybe 8 of those miles, off and on. It also helped that the last 10 miles of the day were mostly smooth. The little dog didn’t bat an eye all day; I’m a proud papa!
The views, the views, the views, good grief the views. I must say, today probably ranks as the overall most beautiful and breathtaking day so far. I had simultaneous views of Mt. Adams, Mt. St Helen, and Mt. Rainier, plus a million other formations and landscapes who’s titles are a mystery to me. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, but the wind was there. Honestly, I don’t even know how to put today’s views into words. I was in a daze of awe.
The Knife’s Edge was quite possibly my favorite stretch of trail of this entire journey. You could see the trail stretch for miles ahead and behind you along a narrow spine of mountain ridges. Although I didn’t see any, other hikers claimed to have seen mountain goats. I was slightly jealous, because this is the last animal to make my wildlife sightings of this trip complete. I’ve given up on seeing a mountain lion, although I’m sure plenty of them have seen me. I did see my first Marmot since the High Sierra, and katana nearly leapt off my shoulders when she noticed it.
The top of our final 1,600 ft climb rewarded us with a spectacular view of Rainier at dusk. We finished up the day hiking into the night, the nearly full moon our only source of illumination. The forest was full of fleeing deer, forcing me to leash Katana in an effort to keep her close. We finished strong a little after 8 pm by a small lake. It’s funny, Katana gets a second wind when the sun goes down; she’s in her element at night.
We’re only hiking 2 miles to a road tomorrow morning, then taking the day off in the town of Packwood. I think it’ll be good for Katana to have a zero day every 100 miles or so, just to give her pads a chance to rest and toughen. Only around 350 miles left…