Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Majestic Washington Cascades

Day 124-127:

Breakfast at the cafe in Trout Lake was delicious! Blueberry pancakes and coffee, followed a couple of hours later by Blueberry pie and coffee. I reunited with K2 and her parents John and Cindy drove us back to the trail where we had left off. Here we met Snaps, Heckle and Jeckle again at the trailhead. 

Wonderful trail magic was being dished out there again too which I am always grateful for. The 13 mile/ 21km afternoon hike took us closer and closer to Mnt Adams and into the Mnt Adams Wilderness. 

I witnessed a rock avalanche on the mountainside high up and the sound of it was frightening. It was breathtaking walking along the base of Mnt Adams and being able to see the glaciers up close. 

We walked until Adams was behind us and Rainier loomed up ahead. As evening fell, we found a campsite near the Lewis River on a ridge overlooking the Cascade Mountains and sunset. 

To our left was Mnt St Helens. in the far right, Mnt Rainier and behind us was Mnt Adams, a more spectacular campsite would be hard to find!

Day 125:

I woke up to a spectacular pink skyline. Twenty seven miles (43.5 km) of trail ensued through alpine meadows, across creeks and streams, through lava rock areas and forests. 

Climbs and descents were the order of the day and I reunited with Pippin again for awhile. We ate handfuls of Huckleberries along the way which were delicious!

I camped at Walupt Creek with Stringcheese and Grandpappy Amos who is a south bound section hiker. 
It is so cold and the wind is whipping around the tent. I'm so happy to have all my layers on and to be snug in my tent and sleeping bag. Hope the weather improves tomorrow. 

Day 126:
The morning was cold and misty and I could barely see 20ft in front of me when I awoke. I found it difficult to get out of my tent but eventually did and said goodbye to Stringcheese and Grandpappy Amos. 

Presently the trail entered the Yakama Indian Reservation and the mist cleared to reveal spectacular views of plunging valleys and majestic mountains. 

After crossing over Cispus Pass, the trail hugged the mountainside and reached the beautiful waterfall of the Cispus River, where I sat and made some coffee. 

From there the trail meandered up through beautiful alpine meadows with spectacular views of Mnt Adams and into the rocky Goats Rocks Wilderness.

From there I had to traverse the Packwood Glacier on Old Snowy Mountain and dug my trekking pole into the ice and snow to prevent me from slipping. 

Great misty clouds came swirling across the mountain top, giving it a mystical "Lord of the Rings" type feel. 

Shortly after that I crossed another glacier on a steep mountain slope and then traversed over a ridge top called the "Knife's Edge" which most certainly lives up to it's name and gives sweeping views of the surrounding countryside.

 I felt a little scared a few times when part of the narrow trail with steep drops sometimes on both sides was eroded and had loose gravel preventing a stable foothold. 

When I got off the ridge, I had a late lunch at a glacial melt stream and met Redridinrobin and her two beautiful horses, Blue and Buddy.

She invited me to ride Buddy back to a trail junction about 5 miles/8km away and so I hoisted myself up into the saddle, pack and all. 

It was scary going down the steep mountain switchbacks but once on the trail in the forest I was relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed the ride. 

What an epic day!  Redridinrobin taught me a lot about riding a horse on a mountainous terrain. I am so grateful to another angel in my life. 

Once again, it is the spectacular people I have met on this journey that has made it so amazing.

I rounded off the day by setting up camp on a ridge overlooking the spectacular view of Mnt Rainier. As the mist and wind swirled about my tent I went to sleep in solitude on a mountain, exhausted but exhilarated!  

Day 127:

It's tough waking up to a cold, damp tent. All the mountain mist caused condensation on the inside of my rainfly and infiltrated everything, causing even my down sleeping bag to feel damp on the outside.

Outside on the ridge however, I was rewarded with the spectacular sight of Mnt Rainier in the early morning light.
I hiked downhill for the next 3 hours and reached the very friendly Kracker Barrel at White Pass. Here I saw Pippin, K2, John and Cindy again which was nice. My resupply box had not made it here, but I tracked it down to Packwood which is 20 miles away and I'll hitch in tomorrow to pick it up. Tonight I'll stay in lodging in White Pass as the temperatures dip down into the 30's F (32 degrees F is 0 degrees C). Yay, a warm bed for the night. Another reason to feel grateful! Only 347 miles/ 543km left to go.

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