23.7 miles (Miles 2271.0 – 2294.7)
PCT Mile 2271 – PCT Mile 2294.7
Sensory overload! I mentioned before that I’ve heard from other hikers that Goat Rocks Wilderness is the best spot on the entire PCT. I hiked through it today, and I sort of agree. Only sort of because I decided I cannot have one favorite spot on this trail any more. So many places are just so close on the overwhelmingly amazing scale. I get asked a lot what my favorite part of this hike has been, so I’ve put a lot of thought into it. Here’s how I’m going to break it down –
In California my favorite part was the high Sierras, particularly Muir Pass. In Oregon my favorite part was the Three Sisters Wilderness – even the lava rock – that actually made it better. In Washington my favorite part (so far) is Goat Rocks with its exhilarating, sketchy-fun ridges and views of Rainier. My favorite spots are certainly not unique. If you mention these three spots to a bunch of PCT thru hikers, I would bet the majority would agree. They really stand out.
We came across a trail crew today, and one of the workers told us that this was the first clear day like this in a couple of weeks. One of the reasons we decided to go into Trout Lake during that rain storm was because we were socked in a cloud and weren’t getting any views. I figured it would be better to dry out and wait for the weather to lift a bit. Well, it lifted! We had amazing weather today to match amazing scenery. There was just so much awesome today that I took almost 200 photos. I wish I could share them all in my blog and describe each of them, but it would take me a day to write and hours to read. I thought I’d break it up into highlights with photos to supplement them.
Mt. Adams: The first thing we did this morning was hike through more amazing Washington forest and out into some open hillsides. There were trees, meadows, and best of all – many more great views of Mt. Adams.
A waterfall: After the many changing views of Adams, we hiked up and over a ridge where a bowl of mountains and valleys were spread with green trees and meadows, waterfalls, rocky scree slides and blue sky above. It was really starting to get good! We climbed up over Cispus Pass and were brought into another bowl of more amazingness. It was a gigantic playground! In the first photo below, toward the center, waaay across the valley is a waterfall. The trail wound all along the edge of this bowl to that fall, which is the second photo below. The third is me taking advantage of an opportunity too fun to pass up.
Mt. Rainier: We came up around another bend, and BOOM! There was beautiful, majestic Rainier, all snowy-white against a vivid blue sky. We got several great views, and I even got to build another trail snowman while enjoying them! The third photo below is from a little later on. I couldn’t believe all the colors out here!
Knife-edge trail: For a few miles we hiked along a really sharp ridgeline. Actually, in that photo just above, you can see a part of that ridge. Some of the trail was eroded from the storms last week, and it was pretty sketchy in areas. Thankfully there’s a trail crew up there working their buns off to fix it up (thanks, trail crew!). Along the knife-edge part of trail, we hiked on some shale rock that likes to tilt one way or the other when you step – you won’t know which way until you put your weight on it. The scary part of this was on either side of each step was a dramatic dropoff, hundreds of feet down steep scree slopes. You wouldn’t stop tumbling for quite a ways if you fell here. It’s a good thing I had to stop every minute to take a new photo – that forced me to take it nice and slow. This was some of the most fun trails I’ve ever hiked on… the many pretty views, the rock scrambles, the vertigo, and the slight element of danger… oh, yeah!
A snow tunnel: It always happens when you come around a corner… something you just have to stop for, even if you just stopped for something else. I saw a snow tunnel not that far from the trail, stopped, dropped my pack, turned to Tears and said, “I’ve got to go in there.” I scrambled down the steep hill and stepped inside the tunnel. It was melting slowly in the hot afternoon sunshine, so it was dripping pretty steadily. It was really cool to stand inside and explore a little bit.
Camp: We hiked pretty steadily after that. We hoped to have less than 10 miles to hike tomorrow, so we cruised through some more open scenery and into forest again where we found camp. Getting to camp and totally winding down (or trying to) after such an epic hiking day is always a highlight.
Tonight I love Adam’s brown eyes. I miss him a lot after a week on the trail, and I’m excited to see him (and his eyes) tomorrow.
One more last thing… I thought a lot about my Aunt Micky this past week. The little bit I’ve been in touch back home, I know she was in the ICU with some serious health issues. I am praying for good news, and strength to her and the rest of the family there supporting her. Love you, Aunt Micky.
Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!