Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Day 122 : Chinook Pass

27 miles today
305 miles to go

I wake to silence. This is the quietest place I've camped. It's cold this morning. I wear my smartwool shirt under my hiking shirt. I hike less than a quarter mile and I'm too warm. I have to stop and take it off. It's still cool but the climbing I'm doing has made me warm enough without the base layer. I climb up higher and higher. The lake is a tiny dot in the trees below. I climb high enough to see Mt Rainier to the west. Such a big mountain. It seems like I will never walk far enough to finally be north of it. I walk and walk and walk and then pop up on a ridge and it's still there next to me. The sky is less blue today, more icy thin clouds, invisible clouds, like lacy white curtains. They wash out the colors of the sky and the surrounding mountains on the horizon. It's a pastel day. Like everything is painted in watercolors. Dreamy, almost fake looking. Completely different colors than yesterday. It's also much cooler. I climb up and over a saddle and down and around a bowl to Chinook Pass. A cool name, it sounds like it's remote and hard to reach, like there's fish to be caught there. Perhaps, there is for someone. I'm hiking to Canada I don't have the time or the skills to find out. Today feels like fall. Everything seems tired and subdued. Soon it'll be frosty here. The ridges are impossibly steep and rugged. The road over Chinook Pass ascends from some distant point to the east. A long steady ascent along a steep slope. The trail crosses the road on a bridge which doubles as the sign for Mt Rainier National Park. It looks so Northwesty. Like Paul Bunyan made it out of logs. Big giant logs than span the entire two lanes of the highway. The trail goes right across the top. I see mountain goats or are they mountain sheep in a far off bowl. They're basically white specks on the green mountain side. The musical, ‘Sound of Music’ comes to mind. It's steep like the alps in all directions. The sun finally gives up. It is covered by clouds. Clouds that I didn't even notice before. It's darker and grayer now. A cold breeze blows from the west. I hike on and on through trees. Up and down ridges and valleys. I lose track of directions in the gray mist. I hike to Urich shelter. I get water from the creek and set up camp as far from the shelter as I can. Shelters seem to be mice magnets. The Urich shelter is on the western edge of government meadows. As I prepare dinner a cloud envelopes the meadow and the surrounding trees. My camp is now in the fog.

I practice cooking dinner in my tent. If it does rain I'll be doing a lot of if it. There are other Thru-hikers here. I think they are opting to camp in the shelter. Good for them, it's not my thing. I'd much rather be out I my tent than in a shelter. The clouds drift ominously across the meadows. I wonder if it'll rain tomorrow, or even tonight. 

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