WA PCT Section J – Part II, Day 5 – Last day on the trail


Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Part II, Day 5. Miles hiked: 14. Elevation gain/loss: +2170/-3610.
Spectacle Lake to Pete Lake Trailhead

(Day 2-5 insta pics click here)

Last day on the trail! I wake around 6:30. Granola and coffee. Chat with Nitro and Foxy. Hit the trail at 9. Up, up, up to the high point. It’s smoky today and views are diminished. Down to the pond. Success! I find my dirty socks just where I left them on a bush. Mark’s carabiner is not there. Snack. Might as well get going.

I retrace my steps and go up to the high point, then down, down, down. Past the Spectacle Lake junction, down through the burn, through Lemhi Meadows. Right turn at the Pete Lake Trail junction. After 1.5 miles I find Nitro and Foxy there waiting for me to cross. The ford is not so bad, just cold. Down the Pete Lake Trail – a walk in the park compared to the Mineral Lake Trail – it’s mostly level with some elevation loss. Past Pete Lake and a few day hikers. Jared will meet us at the trailhead sometime between 6 and 7pm.

We reach the trailhead at 5:54. I use the portapotty and toss some garbage in the can. Lo and behold at 6pm on the dot Jared arrives! Great timing. We load up and drive out to Snoqualmie Pass. The smoky haze is thick. At the pass we celebrate with fantastic food (for me a burger) and Dru-Bru beer at the Commonwealth. Bid farewell to our new hiking friends. Down I-90, over the ferry, and back to Vashon. The End.

WA PCT Section J – Part II, Day 4 – Through the burn to Spectacle Lake


Monday, August 13, 2018
Part II, Day 4. Miles hiked: 13.5. Elevation gain/loss: +3115/-3725.
South of the Waptus Pass Burn Trail to Spectacle Lake

(Instagram pics days 2-5 are here)

I wake at 6 and lay there hoping some of the condensation outside and inside will evaporate. I read a little and eventually get up at 7. The other hiker is gone. So. many. mosquitos. I don my mosquito outfit and make breakfast of hot granola+coffee. Drying my rainfly in the morning sun works marginally. Pack up. On trail at 8:20.

One by one (and sometimes 2 by 2) I pass NOBO PCT hiker guys. The area up here is beautiful and stunning! The smoke obscures it somewhat, but there are spectacular views of the Three Queens and Four Brothers. Burn area. Down, down, down to Lemah Meadows. Water refill. More non-PCT hikers are on the trail now. Through the Lemah Meadows, cross the Lemah Creek on a downed log.

Then up, up, up through the exposed burn area in the hot midday heat. Nuun is good. Tiny shade and lunch break. Onward, overlapping a few other hikers bound for Spectacle Lake, too. At the junction I go down the 0.5 miles to the lake and make a beeline for the peninsula where the best camping is supposed to be. I find a spot to myself by 3:30 and settle in. Yardsale my stuff to dry, set up camp, filter water, take a dip. Dry. Read. Lounge. Write. Look at maps.

While eating my dinner and listening to a podcast, 3 women in their 60’s walk through my site. “Mind if my friends stay in your site?”, one of them says as she hikes on past. Damn I was hoping for some solitude. “Uh sure”, I say and crank my podcast to high volume, hoping they’ll move along. They end up deciding to set up in another spot, but we get to talking and they are Nitro and Foxy, 66 and 61 respectively, and they’re going to catch a ride when Jared comes to pick me up tomorrow. I’ll hike the 3 miles to tag the pond where Mark and I hiked to last week, hike back, then hike out and meet the ladies a the river crossing. Later in the evening they move their tent to my site – theirs is too rocky to stake out their tent. By now I’ve warmed up and am happy to share. Read. Sleep at 9.


WA PCT Section J – Part II, Day 2 -A little rain and a little ford


Saturday, August 11, 2018
Part II, Day 2. Miles hiked: 13.5. Elevation gain/loss: +3560/-4035.
Just shy of Trap Lake (WACS2453) to somewhere above Hyas Lake (WACS2440)

(The pictures are here)

I wake at the usual time – around 6:20 – to misting from a cloud. A bit of water condensed both inside and outside the tent. I hope the misting outside lessens, but it continues so eventually I get going, pack up my soggy tent, and head up the trail to make breakfast in a drier spot. I hike inside the cloud that envelopes the mountains. I pass those 3 guys who came by last evening, who hammocked not too far away. Under a tree I find a small spot to make my coffee and cook my oatmeal. Nobody passes by as I eat my breakfast.

I continue past the unmarked trail for Trap lake, then up, up, up the hill. And down, down, down to the Surprise Lake and Glacier Lake area. I chat with a guy who had struggled up that hill and plans to spend the day at Glacier Lake. I run into an old sprightly foreign man who tells me that he already had some rum this morning. A few more hikers go by. I stop to poop at the Glacier Lake toilet and get mobbed by mosquitos and try to make it snappy. Lots of folks passing by or camped in this area.

I pass an abandoned trail through Surprise Gap and enter a landscape of barren rock and marmots. Stark in it’s beauty and contrast. Talk with a chatty hiker. Up, up to Piper Pass where I take a lunch break. I’m still surrounded by cloud, but it’s starting to lift. Down, down, down 5 miles. Just after Deception Lake I stop at a campsite to air out my stuff to dry, but largely fail because a) it’s cloudy and b) I’m in a forest filled with shade. After 30 minutes and the threat of rain I pack up and hit the trail. Within minutes it starts to rain. I don my rain jacket. More rain. I don my rain pants. More rain. Past Deception Pass. The rain lets up and the sun sort of begins to shine. The rain has kept the temps cool so I can’t complain too much.

Stream crossing. Then to the ford. I get my feet wet but manage not to fall in, so it’s a successful crossing. I see 3 other hikers further downriver crossing in what looks like a much more difficult spot. I give a trail runner the crossing beta as he passes. Filter water. Eat a bar. I’m really digging the nut-butter-filled and smoothie-filled Clif bars right now. Up, up above Hyak Lake to CS2440 on the Halfmile maps. There’s supposed to be a seasonal stream, and while I can hear water above and below, there’s none to be found. I set up camp anyway – early, it’s 4:30pm – but it’s a good secluded spot, semi-shielded from any more rain by the forest, with opportunity for others to camp nearby. Dry camp, but I have enough water to make dinner. And I don’t feel like hiking another 6 miles, so call it at 13.5 for the day.

I set up my tent and hang my clothes to dry. Take my time. Write. Read. Cook my ramen with tuna (Nong shim plus the no-salt-added fancy tuna makes for a tasty pairing). I clean up and listen to an episode of the Cascade Hiker podcast about the UPNorth Route (a hiking couple is linking the PCT, PNT, Idaho Centennial Trail, and Oregon Desert Trail). I hear others up the way which means they’ve set up camp nearby, which makes me feel a little more comfortable. Between the busy trail with lots of other hikers and the CBD oil I have, I’m feeling more and more comfortable sleeping solo out here.

I read for a while and formulate my plan for tomorrow: 15 ish mile goal. Off to sleep…