PCT 2019: Day 63, Tentsite at Mile 2557.6 to Vista Creek

I'm lookin' out my window, I watch the clouds go by

I felt good and thought I could do about as many miles today as I did yesterday.

The trail had been mostly easy yesterday. The only difficult part came near the end and I wasn’t especially tired when I finished.

DateTuesday, July 9, 2019
WeatherMostly sunny, then cloudy, followed by partly cloudy; high temperature near 70
Trail ConditionsLong climbs and descents, mostly gradual; several stream crossings
Today's Miles21.9
Trip Miles853.9

I’m trying to average 20 miles per day while I’m not hiking with Ralph. With extra-long days this time of year, that should be possible every day so long as the terrain and weather don’t slow me down.

Today started well for making my intended mileage. I was the first person to leave camp and was on the trail by 6:30 a.m.

After yesterday's cloudy weather, I was glad to see sunlight on the side of the mountains ahead of me as I reached the trail.

The first few miles of the trail began with an easy climb before entering a large cirque, a semi-circular bowl that was formed by a glacier.

The cirque was littered with boulders that had been deposited here when the glacier retreated.

Some streams poured from the walls of the cirque. The first stream I came to had sticks laid down for a makeshift bridge. I thought they would be unstable, but they held as I stepped across the stream.

A real bridge crossed the next stream, but I almost preferred the sticks. Much of it was rotted and I wondered if it would hold my weight. It appeared to have been crushed by heavy snow.

After completing the semi-circle path around the cirque, the trail began a steady climb of nearly 1,000 feet for the next two miles.

Small patches of snow appeared on the slope. They were pock-marked with suncups, but the trail mostly bypassed them.

After reaching 6,000 feet in elevation, the trail began a long descent, first going down 1,500 feet in nearly three miles. Then after a short climb, the descent continued another 2,100 feet in eight miles before reaching the Suiattle River.

More patches of snow appeared along the way, with one posing a dilemma. An ice bridge had formed where the trail crossed a small stream. This would normally be a good way to cross a stream, but here a large gap had opened in the ice.

There wasn’t an easy path around the ice bridge and I was unsure at first how to go over it. It was likely unstable, I thought.

Thinking the sides of the gap were the weakest, I took as big of a step as I could. Fortunately, I was able to stretch far enough to reach stable ice and made it across with no trouble.

I stopped for breakfast at 8:30 a.m. While I was taking my break, I watched a layer of clouds roll into the valley from a gap along the ridge. It was a mesmerizing view.

Ricky Bobby and Six Pound passed by while I was there.

Once I resumed hiking, I noticed the clouds were still trying to pour over the mountain, but they were evaporating when they hit sunny, drier air on the other side.

As the trail curved around the mountain, I entered where the clouds were coming from. They clung low to the ground.

The trail continued its descent and before long dropped below the cloud layer.

The rest of the way down the mountain slope to the river, the trail followed the path of Miners Creek.

The trail became more heavily wooded, which made for a pleasant and easy stroll.

Nearing the bottom of the descent, I saw Ricky Bobby had stopped for lunch along the side of the trail, so I joined him. A hiker named Kermit joined us a few minutes later.

Ricky Bobby and I continued down toward the Suiattle River after lunch. The trail first made a couple of switchbacks, then crossed Miners Creek near where it emptied into the river.

I stopped at the bridge to take photos of Miners Creek, but Ricky Bobby kept hiking.

At this point, the trail turned to follow the river downstream for 3.5 miles.

Then after another switchback, the trail finally reached the Suiattle River and crossed a long, wooden bridge.

Construction of the bridge was completed in September 2011 after the previous one was destroyed in a flood on October 17, 2003. The flood was the result of 10 inches of rain that fell in a 24-hour period during a La Niña storm.

This bridge was not constructed at the site of the previous bridge, so the trail had to be relocated, requiring a total of 4.5 miles of new trail. This spot was selected because the river was more narrow here than spots upstream. This location also provided a solid bedrock for the bridge’s concrete pillars, making it stronger against future floods.

During the eight years between the flood and the completion of the new bridge, hikers had to follow a detour on steep, poorly-maintained trails and three miles of road-walking.

After crossing the river, the trail backtracked upstream to near a spot where the original bridge had crossed, then began a gradual climb away from the river. I planned to go 5.4 miles more to a campsite on Vista Creek.

The ascent mostly followed Vista Creek and was easier to walk than I had expected, except for a couple of places where large trees had fallen to block the trail.

My Guthooks trail guide app said the campsite was “large enough for three tents.” When I arrived, there were already four tents set up there, but I was still able to find room for mine.

I was pleased to see one of the hikers there was Fluffy Bunny.

I joined her and four other hikers for dinner. Tamara and Lynlee were section hiking. Wonder and Toast were thru-hikers.

I knew tonight would be another good night for sleeping because I was again camped next to a “white noise machine” creek.

If tomorrow’s weather is like today, maybe I can keep my string going of 20-or-more miles per day.

I'm lookin' out my window
I watch the clouds go by
I look to see eternity
The endless rolling sky

You cannot think of eternity
Think of it like time
You try to think, you try to count
You just mess up your mind

Eternity, eternity
Honey, I love you, you love me
Let's love each other through eternity

From “Eternity” by Willie Dixon, Bob Weir, and Rob Wasserman


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.