Monday, September 19, 2016

In the High Places on the PCT without kids including a 20 mile day

As a mom and social worker, it is hard to recognize and care for my own needs, so it is important, at least annually, to take a trip without kids to high places. This time I chose to join a hiking group who was going to hike the highest section of the PCT in Washington which has been on my bucket list for awhile.

 We started at White Pass. It was an ambitious trip- four 10+ mile days with lots of elevation gain and the respected and feared "knife's edge" exposed section of trail. The group was diverse in terms of age with lots of good experience between us.
 We started the day with a five mile climb. Whew! I led the pack after a bit because I am able to keep a good pace up the hills. We were all at a little different pace, but everyone did a fantastic job with endurance.
 It has been awhile since I have hiked near Mt. Rainier and it was nice to see it looming large.
 As we continued to climb we got to the high places I had been hoping for.
 We continued across some exposed ridge line. We saw a marmot and some goats.
 Along the way we passed many PCT through hikers, most were in good spirits.
 We continued our trek and stopped on top of Shoe Lake Basin for lunch.
 The climb was tiring but very much worth the effort.
 This is shoe lake from above.
  We were on top of the world!
 After lunch we started descending the other side and heading to Tieton pass where we would spend our first night.
 We continued to climb down through the beautiful exposed ride line.
The clouds were rolling in making the sky quite beautiful.
 We were all able to carry enough water to make it to our campsite and headed down to filter some.
 This guy was in the campsite for decor. We enjoyed a meal and the normal camp chores before calling it a night.
 Since I had been up since 4:15am and exerted a lot of energy on the hike, I fell asleep early and slept pretty well.
The next day we woke up to a very rainy, cloudy day. We enjoyed breakfast and packed up our wet tents. We put on our layers and rain gear and hit the trail. A few miles in I saw the backside of a large animal that I thought was an elk about 100 feet away head up from the trail. When we got closer, I saw the face of a cougar about 50 feet from me framed by trees. We tried to look big and tough and not like prey and yelled at him, then stayed close together and slowly proceeded.
We made it 4.5 miles up to around 6500 feet. It was gusting and raining sideways and we made a decision to turn around rather than face the exposed knife's edge (4 hours of exposure to the elements and chance of falling). We had not met any hikers who had come across the knife's edge to give us a report. We hiked down and then up again back to the trailhead making it a very wet, cold 20 mile day, 10 of which were climbing up hill.
Here I am in the last 2 mile stretch, everything hurting, cold and wet, but we made it. I was proud of all of us for such a long day. We even got out before dark. It was not the adventure we had planned, and a little jarring to have such an intense experience and exit the woods so quickly, but not an adventure I will soon forget!

No comments:

Post a Comment