"Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints."
"We are part of the earth and the earth is part of us" Chief Seattle
I had to make up my mind today whether I was going to take the alternate route out of Snoqualmie which loops and rejoins the PCT or just stay on the regular trail. I decided to take the alternate and left during the early afternoon.
I had to walk through the quaint ski resort village of Alpental to the start of the Snow Lake trail at a fairly steep set of switchbacks up the the stunning alpine Snow Lake.
Going up I "talked story" with so many day hikers who were interested in what I was doing and I was showered with delicious trail magic by Janet and her friends, including chocolate, an apple and an energy drink.
From Snow Lake I took the steep and not very well maintained switchbacks down to the Middle Fork trail which led through forests and across creeks to the tranquil Goldmyer Hot Springs, a zen like retreat in the forest on the bank of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River.
It is run as a non profit and limits the amount of visitors to 20 at a time. The hot springs are in natural rock pools with a cabana nearby and camping overnight is an option in one of their eight campsites. ( $15 for a day pass and $5 for camping).
It was truly worth taking this route just to be able to "zen out" here. Going to sleep peaceful and happy here in my tent in the woods.
Feeling grateful that I'm able to experience life in this manner.
Quotation found at the hot springs:
"May the divine principle of universe nestle it's way between decision making, imagination and the temptations of mortality. May today find the inspiration to unleash hidden potential, simplify and lead silently by example a contemplative, creative life. Bless all that our eyes and minds come across. We are a divine expression of life. We accept the uncertainty with serenity. We are one. Unanimous Anonymous"
I departed from the hot springs after chatting with Aaron, the caretaker who is also a passionate bread baker. He and his partner are planning on hiking the PCT next year. PCT hikers Indie and Art Gypsy were headed back to the warm pools as I left.
The Middle Fork trail hugged the Snoqualmie River for some time and it mostly climbed throughout the morning. I stopped to have lunch at the Dutch Miller horse camp and proceeded on the Dutch Miller Gap trail for the rest of the day.
I did significant climbs, descents and more climbs on sometimes poorly maintained trail and sometimes on great sections including boardwalks.
I stopped to have an early supper on a river bank by a bridge and saw Wisdom from France. He was the only person I had seen all day.
By 6pm I went through the Dutch Miller Gap and was rewarded with the magnificent sight of Lake Ivanhoe, the beauty of which was spellbinding.
The wind was picking up and it had started to rain so I decided to set up camp here due to the fact that I found a lovely sheltered little campsite.
After some hot chocolate and cookies, I called it a night early. It felt a little eerie being the only human at this vast and beautiful lake. I am thankful that I chose to do this alternate route as it is magnificent!
Well, I survived a stormy night out in the wild north Cascades of Washington. It's at times like this that I realize how potentially dangerous and absurd this quest is. It is very cold out there and I would have been in a very uncomfortable, if not hypothermic predicament if I had allowed people to do any radical pack "shakedowns". It never ceases to amaze me how often other people want to purge my backpack, when I am the one carrying it. I am so glad that I have everything that's in it.
As I left Ivanhoe Lake, it was swirling mist and drizzle.
A little further down along the stream I saw a horse/mule encampment and then continued to wind down the switchbacks to rejoin the regular PCT again.
It was a long, solitary day of mist and drizzle. My Frogg Toggs, Golite umbrella and pack rain cover were put to good use.
I covered 20 miles/32km passing Deep Lake, which was very picturesque being framed in the mist by the jaggered peaks of the mountains which loomed up behind it.
At one point I had to make a very scary river crossing by balancing whilst inching my way across it on slippery, wet logs while the rapids raged beneath me.
I ended up camping solo in the damp woods at Deception Pass after finding a sheltered campsite just up along the Marmot Lake trail. I look forward to the time when I no longer have to fall asleep in fear, listening vigilantly to all the noises in the forest.
Upon leaving my sheltered little spot, I thanked it for keeping me warm and dry last night, but even so, my rainfly was drenched.
My day started out in the drizzle and mist but as I arrived at the gorgeous Deception Lakes, the rain stopped, the sun came out for a moment and I sat in the rocks at the lake and enjoyed a mug of camp style cafe mocha and dark chocolate covered acai berries.
This was followed by a climb up many switchbacks into the heavens and as the mist partially cleared I had some spectacular views.
As I meandered down I met a wonderful woman named Sue and her dog Darwin.
We hiked together, chatting for hours and she became my trail angel by offering me a ride from the trailhead into Skykomish. I bought her a drink at the Whistling Post as a thank you.
Skykomish is a quaint, historic railway town which looks like a movie set.
Tonight I am staying at the historic Cascadia Inn.
While I strolled along the main street, a woman drove by and leaning out the window asked "Are you Heather Feather"? I never dreamed I'd be recognized in a tiny northern town like Skykomish, but it was Andrea Dinsmore from the Hiker Haven and she had bern following my progress. I plan to go up there tomorrow before hitting the trail again. My day ended with receiving trail magic in the form of an awesome resupply box of amazing goodies from my dear friend Mandy who lives in Canada. Gratitude remains my most dominant feeling. Thank you.