September 10, 2017
Mile 2508.82 – Mile 2526.84
Well, as it turns out, Washington is really quite beautiful when you can actually see it. We knew this all along, but today we finally got further confirmation.
It rained pretty steadily through the night, and I had a hard time falling asleep because my mind wouldn’t stop worrying about it. What if it never stopped and we couldn’t dry out our things? Eventually I fell asleep, and luckily in the morning the rain had stopped. I was tired and felt a bit like I had a cold coming on, so I had a hard time getting myself up, and of course everything was soaked. The tent, the sleeping bags, the packs. The good news is the day could only go up from here.
As we started hiking, I noticed we had a completely clear view of the peaks around us for the first time. It was beautiful. And there was sun shining on the tops of them! My only wish for the day, being able to dry out our sopping wet gear, looked like it would become a reality. The day started out with a rather steep climb, and we stopped pretty early for breakfast because we were both super hungry. Not long after our breakfast break, we crested the top of the hill and came upon a gorgeous view of golden hillsides dotted with green conifers and split by jagged grey peaks. It was so beautiful, as I headed down the ridgeside I thanked the trail over and over for letting us get to see it. I was just so happy to finally be getting these classic Washington views.
We came to a creek where there was a large open, sunny area. A bunch of other hikers had already exploded their stuff everywhere to dry out, so we followed suit and set everything out in the sun to dry. This made for a long break after we had just stopped for breakfast, but it was worth it to get everything dry. By the time we had finished, it was nearly lunch time, but we decided to hike at least another couple of miles before stopping. We lunched by a creek, and then had another little bit of climbing to finish off before a long downhill section.
When I came to the top of that climb, I found one of the most amazing views I’ve seen yet on the trail. I could see the trail winding down the ridge for miles, and snow-capped peaks were on all sides. It was incredible. I paused for a moment to take it in, and then began the descent. The views continued as I wrapped around the ridge, and suddenly stumbled upon a gorgeous alpine lake nestled amongst the peaks. The water was so blue, it looked like it could be Kool-Aid. Not long after that, the trail was back into the forest, switchbacking steeply down to Milk Creek, where we stopped for a quick snack break before beginning the next big climb.
The beginning of the climb was pretty scary. It started off with nice, smooth trail that was ridiculously steep, and then when the grade got better, the trail became super rocky and brushy. But eventually, we reached a point where the trail was mostly smooth and relatively well-graded, and were able to crush it up the hill. We got several glimpses of the large glacier above, lit by the last sun rays reaching into the valley, and then by the bright pink alpenglow. As we neared the top, it started getting dark and pretty cold.
Once we came out of the forest again, we could see the silhouettes of the mountain range in the distance backlit by the orange glow of sunset, and the peaks ahead still lightly illuminated in the dusk. We finally reached the campsite, and by this time it had gotten down right cold. I think the rain was a cold front coming in, because it hasn’t gotten this chilly in a while. We set up the tent and quickly downed our dinners of cold-soaked pasta, which actually wasn’t as bad as it sounds. As I brushed my teeth, I looked up and saw a beautiful show of stars, which is something we haven’t seen in quite some time. I’m now snuggled up in my quilt, ready for a good night’s sleep in my nice, dry tent, and actually excited to see what tomorrow will bring.