PCT 2019: Day 73, Gravel Lake to Snoqualmie Pass

Try to see what's going down

It was good to be hiking with Ralph again, though I didn’t see or talk to him much yesterday. The weather had been dreary and damp, and the trail was rocky. Instead, we focused on getting to camp.

Today was going to be different. With only a short distance to reach Snoqualmie Pass, we had plenty of time to find a place to stay and figure out our resupply for the next section.

DateThursday, July 18, 2019
WeatherCloudy and chilly, with temperatures from mid 40s to mid 50s
Trail ConditionsSeveral sections of rocks, roots or mud
Today's Miles7.2
Trip Miles996.0

Our campsite was located just below a gap between Gravel Lake and Ridge Lake at just under 5,300 feet above sea level.

The elevation and last night's heavy rain made the morning cold and wet while I packed to leave. Conditions like that have often caused me to go slower while preparing to leave camp, but today there was no delay.

Perhaps thinking about eating some good food and drying out my gear soon had something to do with that.

Unlike yesterday, when the weather was a misty rain most of the day, this morning started with a thick fog. The visibility was worse, but at least it wasn’t as wet.

We started walking at 6:30 a.m.

In about 1.5 miles we reached a section of trail known as Kendall Katwalk. It was only 150 yards long but was a marvelous piece of trail construction. The steep granite rock face of Kendall Peak had been dynamited in the late 1970s to create the footpath.

This would have been a beautiful section to walk if it had been a clear day, though my alleged doppelgänger, Harvey Manning, warned this was not a trail for anyone suffering from acrophobia.

Despite the poor visibility, it didn’t take much imagination to know the consequences of making one wrong step would be unfortunate. If you did take a bad step in this fog, at least you couldn’t see where you were falling.

I wished the weather had been better for the views, not because I was afraid to fall. I didn’t consider this part of the trail to be risky. Nevertheless, I kept close to the rock wall as I crossed the Katwalk.

The remaining distance to Snoqualmie Pass was a steady, downward path. Along the way, we began to pass several day hikers and trail runners coming up the trail from the pass.

A few spots were rocky or muddy, but where the trail crossed a talus slope, a smooth trail had been cut through.

The sky remained foggy/cloudy all the way down the trail. Guye Peak, which stood near the pass, looked like a smoking haystack.

After arriving at the trailhead at Snoqualmie Pass, Ralph and I drove to Summit Inn, a hotel adjacent to a ski resort on the other side of Interstate 90.

Though I had become more accustomed to handling the BRS-3000T stove that gave me trouble when I started from Hart’s Pass, I still didn’t like using it, so I had asked Kim to ship my Jetboil stove to Summit Inn.

The hotel held packages for hikers, though they charged $10 per package for anyone who didn’t stay there.

While we were waiting for the desk clerk to find my package, Val came to the lobby to check out. He had hiked the extra distance to Snoqualmie Pass yesterday and stayed at the hotel last night.

The time was still early enough for breakfast, so Ralph, Val, and I walked over to the hotel’s restaurant. While we were there, we talked about our options of where to stay tonight.

One option was to stay at the Summit Inn, but the online reviews of it were mixed. Val said he didn’t think it was bad and perhaps I could have gotten back the $10 I paid for holding my package. Still, after some deliberation, Ralph and I decided we could probably do better in Issaquah. The resupply options would be much better there and I needed some new socks.

We found the Spring Hill Inn in Issaquah was near an REI and a Safeway grocery store, so that sealed the plan.

Then, without too much convincing needed, we talked Val into taking a zero and going with us to Issaquah. The room we reserved had two beds and a sleeper sofa, so there would be plenty of room for him.

It was a good thing this was a nero day because Ralph and I needed most of it to complete our chores. We went to REI, Safeway, Trader Joe’s, a running store, and then finished with dinner at Rogue Brewery.

Laundry had to be put off until we returned to the hotel, but we had time to get it all done. Better still, our nero day gave us enough time to get to know Val better, and that made the day more enjoyable.

Dressed myself in green
Lord I went down unto the sea
Try to see what's going down
Lord, try to read between the lines
I had a feeling I was falling, falling, falling
Lord, I turned round to see
Heard a voice a-calling
Lord you was coming after me

From “Bertha” by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead)

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