Location- near creek
Elevation- 3,947 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 22.1 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 2,506.2 ft
Weather/Temp- partly cloudy 70s 60s
Pain level- low
Days without shower- 3
The fog was so heavy this morning, the water droplets so thick in the air, it almost felt as if it were sprinkling rain. This lasted intermittently throughout the morning before burning off to better reveal the views. The autumn colors had only deepened over night. Every hill and mountainside was covered in a patchwork of different shades of reds and oranges. Most of the color changes had taken place in the low growing vegetation, namely the blueberry and huckleberry bushes, rather than in the pine trees.
The views were once again open, breathtaking, and huge, affording you visuals of the trail miles ahead of you. As far as the climbs went, they were long but very gradual, not strenuous at all. The trail itself had its rocky areas, but was mostly incredibly pleasant. Everyone had said that northern Washington was a brutal section, harder than the Sierra Nevada. I’ve noticed a few good climbs in Washington, but nothing to make your jaw drop from the difficulty or even perceived difficulty. Without a doubt, much of what I’ve traversed so far would be absolutely miserable in truly bad weather. So much of the trail is exposed, it would be torture to hike it in high winds with the addition of freezing temps, rain, or snow. I don’t know if those elements are pre-factored into Washington’s purported difficulty, but from simply a terrain standpoint in average to good conditions, this terrain is nothing but enjoyable.
We had some great views of glacier peak, another ice giant of Washington that influenced the weather in its immediate vicinity. Other than the views, the only other notable occurrence was what I can only describe as a “herd” of Marmots that ran across the trail enroute to their burrows, prompting me to dive after Katana in an attempt to keep her from putting Marmot on tonight’s menu. No doubt she could handle one, but good lord do they have some chompers on them. There’s no way she could come away from that scuffle without a few good bites.
We wrapped up the day in a gorgeous, rainforest-like pine forest overgrown with moss and vegetation, as well as being filled the sounds of rushing water from the nearby river and creeks.
I’ve still been keeping nicely to our 20+ mile daily average, and Katana has done incredibly well with it. Many of the climbs from here on out are going to be BIG. The size of climbs I haven’t seen since northern California and the Sierra Nevada. On paper they look intimidating, but after factoring in the miles over the altitude gained, I don’t think they’ll be terribly challenging.
My feet are still holding up nicely in the current terrain, but my foot still pops out of the tear with every snag. It’s an annoyance, but luckily that’s all it is. Hopefully it won’t cause me anymore headaches worse than that…
Go to my book, “Racing Winter on the Pacific Crest Trail”