Up In Smoke
Most of the morning hike was spent tucked away in a dense, chilly forest, with glimpses through the branches of the jagged peaks around us.
The trail feels crowded this morning as every half hour another round of northbound hikers passes by. We must be getting close to crossing paths with the big northbound hiker herd.
Around 1:30pm, amidst a huge and seemingly endless climb, I dropped into a gorgeous canyon filled with fall colors and flowing water.
All day the trail provided fresh blueberries and raspberries that we gladly picked and ate.
After 17 miles we finally finished the climb for the day and could enjoy a long descent. During our last hour of hiking we got the reunions I was anticipating. Finally some of the northbound hikers looked familiar as we crossed paths with old friends from the beginning of trail. We chatted with Tweets, Bret, and Julian (aka Legs).
At around 7:30 we found our camp spot along the soft white sands of Miners Creek and ate dinner underneath the orange glow of the big (maybe full?) moon.
This morning I woke up and could not see the sky. There was a thick smoke that filled the air all day.
Our hike was UP and DOWN, about 9,000ft of climbing and 6,000 feet of descent within 26 miles. Luckily, the trail in Washington is lined with wild raspberries and blueberries, which we picked and ate all day!
Towards the evening hours we were greeted by an irresistible mountain lake. Mica Lake was crystal clear and demanded a dip.
With achy feet and hungry bellies Cosmo and I finally made it to camp around 8:00pm. We quickly set up camp at Fire Creek and (as per usual) binged on several dinners and snacks before bed.
It was another smokey morning and the day was off to a slow start. The lack of sun and sky through the smokey atmosphere makes for a surreal and somewhat apocalyptic feeling.
Most days it's not the 25-30 miles of strenuous hiking that is most challenging, but the obstacles along the course.
The broken bridge at Kennedy Creek,
The fallen trees that barricade the trail,
The muddy tracks,
The overgrown bushes
You never know what the day will bring.
Amidst today's obstacle course I lit up when I saw the sun strike through the smoke and trees,and shine into the forest as though it were magic hour. It's been very surreal with the smoke-filled sky, with the feeling that the day never really begins or ends.
As is to be expected in Washington, today's hike included 6,000+ feet of steep climbing and equally epic descents. My skin and clothes felt wet all day. Thankfully all of the hard work was worth it, and after 24.4 miles Cosmo and I treated ourselves to an early evening camp at Lake Sally Ann.
We were gifted mini bottles of wine by two local hikers.
Today was the last big day before heading into the town of Leavenworth. This section has been rough, the smokey air has been difficult to breathe and the humidity has kept my clothes and skin feeling wet all day and night.
We hiked 27 miles through the dusty trail with scenic vistas and lush forests. The smokey sky made it difficult to tell if there were storm clouds brewing, but thankfully we did not get rained on all day.
I am very ready for town. My feet are ready for a rest from all the climbing and I am ready to wash my filthy dirt- and salt-stained clothes. Also, food. I used to crave french fries and beer when I got to a town but as the months have gone on my body caught on that this hike is not a vacation but a way of life, and so it adapted. Now when I get close to town my cravings have changed to whole foods, fresh vegetables, and fruits.
In the middle of the day I passed a northbound hiker who warned me that the fires have gotten worse. He claimed that the fire has grown and the trail is closed for the majority of southern Washington. I'll have to do some research when I get to town...I hope we don't have more big closures.
And we were joined by about 15 northbound hikers who also had lakeside camping in mind.
The evening winds finally cooled my skin to a comfortable degree and I could enjoy the moment all that much more. And although I am lucky to be in such a beautiful space I cannot wait for the comforts of town that are coming soon.
We finally made it to Stevens Pass and hitched a ride into the town of Leavenworth.
The couple that picked us up from Stevens Pass also took us to the grocery store in town. We stocked up on food and then posted up at a hotel in town.
It took multiple showers for me to clean the dirt off my body (and I still don't think it's all gone). After cleaning up Cosmo and I strolled the Bavarian-themed town and found a place that made vegan bratwurst for dinner.
Tonight it's all about eating food, watching movies, and sleeping inside!