Day 145-149: Hiking Through Central Washington
Day 145: American Ridge Trail Junction (Mile 2325.5)-Arch Rock Spring (Mile 2350); 24.5 miles
We woke to a cold rain falling on the tent. Bundling up in our hats, gloves, puffy jackets, rain jackets, and rain pants, we began walking.
After a few miles, we came upon a stately bull elk and several female elk grazing in a meadow near Dewey Lake.
Low clouds hung above tree-lined Dewey Lake while mist swirled over the beautifully clear water.
In order to stay warm, we didn’t pause for long at the lake and climbed up to Chinook Pass. We were told this spot normally features a dramatic view of Mt. Rainier, but we all we could see was thick fog. In the afternoon, the sun broke through, and we were glad to feel its warmth as well as see some longer views.
The sunshine ended up being short-lived, though, and the weather turned quite cold and windy as evening approached.
Day 146: Arch Rock Spring (Mile 2350)-Tacoma Pass (Mile 2373); 23 miles
Going about our morning tasks, we discovered that freezing rain overnight had iced our bear can lids in place. North Star broke the ice with a few well-placed kicks. After walking a few miles bundled up, we were excited when the sun’s rays began to pierce through the branches.
We walked through a mix of logged, burned, and old stands of trees today. The older forests were our favorite areas.
At the end of the day, near where we were planning to camp, we stumbled across trail magic. Not Phil’s Dad had quite the setup. He served us vegetarian chili over tortillas and hot chocolate. We are very grateful to all the trail angels for their support on this thru hike. Trail magic always invigorates us!
Day 147: Tacoma Pass (Mile 2373)-Olallie Meadow (Mile 2397); 24 miles
Not Phil’s Dad kindly fixed us some hot chocolate as we packed up our gear. Once our fingers and bellies were warm, we said goodbye, and headed north on the Pacific Crest Trail.
The air had grown thick with smoke overnight from forest fires to the east, reducing visibility. Unfortunately, all we could clearly see around us were previously logged areas.
As the smoke cleared, an unnatural patchwork pattern of forest came into view. All the trees in each rectangular section had been logged at once, so each section contained trees of similar height.
To our relief, the trail occasionally led us through areas of old-growth forest. We noticed dramatic differences between these virgin forests and areas recovering from logging. Most notably, in the older growth areas, the air was much cooler and wetter. This difference in climate allowed fungi and a wider variety of vegetation to grow on the forest floor. The trees in these areas were of all ages and sizes, and dead trees were decomposing into rich soil. It was exciting to witness such a diverse, thriving ecosystem.
Day 148: Olallie Meadow (Mile 2397)-Snoqualmie Pass (Mile 2402) + 0.5 miles for resupply; 5.5 miles
Strong winds rocked the tent at night, so neither of us slept well. Luckily, we only had to walk five miles downhill to Snoqualmie Pass today. The walk was nicer than we expected, even though it was interrupted by power lines and highway noise.
Once in town, we headed to the Chevron, which held PCT hiker packages. Bizarrely, they stored the boxes in an empty beverage refrigerator. Opening the glass door and stepping inside, we found a large haphazard pile of boxes. Fortunately, we were able to quickly spot our boxes, since we had decorated them with monster stickers.
We then proceeded to complete our normal town chores: eating, laundry, showers, eating, and sleeping.
Day 149: Zero in Snoqualmie Pass
We ate well today, and so did Cheep Cheep. She splurged on a bag of candy worms, and ate the whole bag all by herself!
We shared dinner with our friends Blueberry and Skippy at a local restaurant. It was great to trade trail stories and relax.