Thursday, September 1, 2016

Day 124 : Snoqualmie Pass

20 miles today
259 miles to go

I wake in the dim morning light of a gray and wet Washington morning. Rained all night, I'm completely dry in my tent. I'm warm, cozy, and content to stay here, Pfffssssssssssss, well maybe not. I eat within the confines of the only dry area available to me within twenty miles. I pack, basically out of food except for my hiking snacks. Yay, that makes for a light pack. I pack everything in my pack while still in my tent. Except the tent of course. The rain tapers off long enough for me to exit and cover my pack with my poncho. I pack my tent, it's obviously soaked, however because of the material it's made of it can be wiped dry. I plan on letting it dry in my room at Snoqualmie Pass. 

Candyman zips past just as I'm putting my poncho on over me and my pack. I head up the trail after him. The rain comes in fits and starts. It finally stops, but the trees continue to drip as if it's still raining. The trail is steep and muddy. I'm walking across ridges in the clouds. There is no view beyond the trees I'm walking in. The rest of the world in hidden behind a thick gray curtain, literally a wet blanket. The clouds billow and curl around the edges of the ridge. Sometimes they part and glimpses of far off peaks and mountains covered with trees appear, only to be swallowed by the thick gray clouds. It's cold, finally cold enough to where my base layer, that and my hiking shirt. I think about putting on my windbreaker but that'd mean I have to stop. I don't want to stop. 

I walk and walk. All morning I walk. The cold makes it easy to keep walking. If I stop I'll feel really cold, walking keeps me warm. The rain has not started again but it's cold and every now and then I cross a breezy spot. I find that when I'm climbing I really get warm so warm I have to pull off my micro fleece cap and poncho hood. Then on the descent it gets so cold I put them both back on and zip up the hood around my face. There are puddles in the trail. Clear glassy topped puddles ringed with needles from the trees. I try to avoid stepping in them because I don't know how deep they are. There's no need to make my feet wetter than they already are. I pass bushels of huckleberries, big, ripe, probably perfect for eating. I don't want to take the time to stop and gather them. 

I stop once to drink a liter of water at a spring. Other than that I walk twenty miles to Snoqualmie Pass. As I come down out of the forest to the road it starts to rain. Not just a little, but really rain. I'm so glad I am here and that I didn't stop. I walk into the Summit Inn and tell them I have a reservation. Yay! I get my room key. Then I get the box of resupply food Kelli sent. That's here too. Double Yay! I head to my room overwhelmed by the options that face me. I want to leave in the morning. That means I have a lot to do. I'm tired too. I want to get something to eat but it's raining too hard to walk anywhere except down to the lobby. The Pancake House is open but I want to do that in the morning. Clinic and Shifu are in the lobby getting ready to hitch into Seattle. They plan to stand on the side of the road in the pouring rain. I decide to go back to my room and take a hot shower. 

The rain has tapered off to a fine drizzle. Fine enough for me to walk over the the coffee kiosk and get a corn dog and a huckleberry milkshake. I meet Shaggy and Roadrunner going to the pub. They invite me to go too. “After I'm done,” I say. I get a half pound burger and fries next door to the pub. There is a whole host of Thru-hikers here. Lefty, Swag, Sour Rip, Butterfly, Turbo, Shaggy, Soccer Dad, and more that I can't remember their names. I chat a bit and stuff myself with burger and fries. After saying my goodbyes I head back to the Inn.

The weather tomorrow is sketchy at best. The forecast is predicting thunderstorms after eleven am. There are fourteen miles of exposed ridge walking from here heading north. If I leave early I still can't make it off the ridge by eleven. To top it off I heard a rumor in the lobby that the trail has a rockslide that makes it impassable at mile twelve. I always take these rumors with a grain of salt, but if true that makes the ridge thunderstorm combo even more daunting. I go to my room and check my maps. There is a GoldMyer Hotspring Alternate that doesn't cross the ridge and joins the PCT thirty five miles in. It stays in a valley for a good twenty miles. I decide that I'm doing the alternate. If I hike twenty miles tomorrow I'll still be in the valley during the thunderstorms. I'll pop over the ridge and rejoin the PCT on the morning after. This gets me motivated to sort and pack my food. I leave my tent and poncho out to dry. I'm suddenly overcome by a wave of tiredness and stop my packing and go to bed. I sleep like I'm camping in a tent, soundly.

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