Day 154-156: Life in the Cascades
Each day on the Pacific Crest Trail is packed full of memorable events. In this post, to better share the variety of our daily experiences, we focus on a single day, day 156, with only one highlight from each of the other days.
Day 154: Stevens Pass (Mile 2476)-Glasses Lake (Mile 2488); 12 miles
After getting a hitch back to the PCT from Baring, we climbed up through the trees. The highlight of the day was our campsite with panoramic mountain views and Glasses Lake far below. We enjoyed a romantic dinner of mac and cheese as the sun set, and the stars began to appear.
Day 155: Glasses Lake (Mile 2488)-Indian Creek Trail Junction (Mile 2509); 21 miles
The theme today was Glacier Peak. We watched its steep, snowy slopes grow larger as we walked north. At the end of the day we entered the Glacier Peak Wilderness.
Day 156: Indian Creek Trail Junction (Mile 2509)-Fire Creek Pass (Mile 2530); 21 miles
6:15 As we woke, the smell of smoke from a distant forest fire drifted through the air. Smoke cast a haze over the landscape as we packed up our gear.
7:15 Feeling fresh and energetic, we got to walking.
8:15 After climbing for a while, we passed the tree line into drier, shrubbier terrain. Overheating, we stopped to take off our jackets. A large bird of prey flew past.
9:45 Completing 1500 feet of climbing (roughly the height of the Empire State Building), we reached Red Pass. A fellow thru hiker named Nugio was resting at the top, and we chatted with him briefly before walking down the other side of the pass.
9:50 The large bird flew by again. We thought it was an eagle.
10:45 Our descent continued through meadows, rocks, snow, and finally into a forest. The descent from Red Pass totaled 2700 feet, even more than we had climbed earlier.
11:00 Our map showed a number of silty glacial water sources ahead. Because silt clogs water filters, we elected to stop for an early lunch at Swelling Creek. We filtered the clear, cool water to drink and cook. The delicious dish of the day was Outdoor Herbivore‘s apple quinoa oatmeal.
12:00 After lunch, we entered a towering forest, which cleared smoke from the air.
12:15 We crossed several creeks, and maneuvered over, around, and under numerous downed trees lying across the trail.
1:30 Trees had dropped a soft spongy carpet of pine needles on the trail, which made walking fun. Dead trees sprouted mushrooms aplenty.
2:45 At Kenny Creek, we crossed a log bridge that had cracked in the middle.
2:50 We began a 2300 foot climb. The Cascades are steep!
3:45 Sweaty and tired, we took a break at a creek, where we filtered water.
4:15 Somewhat rested, we continued climbing.
5:00 We crossed beautiful creeks cascading down the mountainside. Shutterbug shutter bugged.
5:10 A black bear startled us as it browsed for berries near the trail. We must have surprised it too, since it ran quickly down the hillside. Once it was farther away, the bear paused to stare back at us before disappearing into the brush.
5:15 We hiked on, climbing above the tree line.
7:00 As autumn draws near, the sun sets earlier, translating to shorter hiking days. Before darkness fell, we found a gorgeous campsite above a deep cloud-covered valley.
8:00 After a quick dinner, we latched our bear can lids and crawled into the tent. We were soon asleep, resting up for tomorrow’s many adventures.