August 30, 2017
Walupt Lake Trail Junction – Hidden Springs (2262.10-2284.23)
Holy moly me-oh-my, today was a good day, folks. The kind of day that makes up for all the shitty days that came before. The kind of day that made me want to hike this trail in the first place. Today, we finally got to see why people call Washington their favourite section of trail.
We started the day off almost right away by starting to climb up a ridge. We caught glimpses through the trees of the rolling, forested hills and Mount Adams peeking over the other side of the valley, which we thought was pretty cool. Little did we know what lay ahead. As the morning continued, we kept catching sight of cooler and cooler views just on the other side of the trees. Jagged ridge tops and steep hillsides painted in green and gold. We began to climb up to Cispus Pass, and eventually crested over a hill to find one of the most beautiful views we’ve seen all trail. We had finally made it into the mountains of Washington.
We could see the trail winding all the way up to the top of the pass, but the climb wasn’t even all that bad. Maybe we were just distracted by the glorious views. Near the top, I noticed something large and black barrelling down the hillside. It was a huge bear! This was literally my dream bear sighting: seen from above while frolicking on a grassy slope, in order to provide safe, prolonged viewing. It was amazing and majestic as fuck.
There is a bear in this photo.. Can you spot it?
We went over the top of the pass and were greeted by another absolutely incredible view. This continued pretty much all day. Every time we turned a corner or crested a hill, some new breathtaking sight awaited us. From the top of the pass, we could see the trail winding down along the ridge side for miles ahead. We headed down and stopped for lunch, and had probably our shortest lunch break ever. That might not sound like a good thing, but I was just so motivated and excited to hike that I didn’t want to sit there anymore, which is kind of a big deal. We eventually started the climb up to the Knife’s Edge, which is the part of Goat Rocks everyone talks about. Close to the top, we suddenly got an amazing view of Mount Rainier, which is definitely the most impressive volcanic peak we’ve seen so far.
We had to cross a couple steep patches of snow as we approached the Knife’s Edge, which was a bit nerve-wracking, but we made it across without incident. After picking our way across a steep slope of scree, the trail followed the crest of the ridge for a while, climbing steeply up and down on the narrow ridge top. It was insane. The wind was absolutely howling up there, which made it slightly more terrifying than it might have been otherwise. The views were gorgeous. We could see Mount Rainier, the entire river valley below, and the snowy slopes we had just descended from. It was so cool.
Near the bottom, we ran into some other hikers, including the somewhat famous (amongst the class of 2017, at least) Optimistic Turtle. We chatted with them for a while and they passed along the rumour that the trail may be closed after White Pass due to a fire. We got service a few minutes later, checked the PCTA page, and sure enough, there was a new closure for the 52 miles after White Pass. Another freaking fire closure. I was really hoping Washington would be the one state we would actually get to walk end-to-end, but apparently it is not to be. We’ll get into White Pass tomorrow morning and figure out a game plan then.
We descended back down into the forest and spent the rest of the day going up and down on tree-covered trail. We’re camped just off trail at Hidden Springs, so we only have 8 miles in the morning to get into White Pass. We’re both running pretty low on food at this point, so we’re planning to devour the entire store inventory when we arrive. I’m so happy that we finally into the true rugged beauty of Washington. Today was so much fun, and probably one of my favourite sections of trail that we’ve seen so far. Heading to sleep now happy, satisfied, and excited for “town” tomorrow.