PCT 2019: Day 74, Snoqualmie Pass to Forest Road at Mile 2376.0

Goes to show, you don't ever know

The day started with an unfortunate discovery while I was preparing to upload photos to my social media accounts.

Even though I fixed the problem in my camera that kept the lens from retracting, I didn’t know until this morning that a valuable feature was broken. The camera would no longer transmit photos wirelessly to my phone.

This was by no means a hike-ending tragedy, but it was a big annoyance. My camera takes better photos than my phone, so I use that while hiking, then transfer the photos to my phone when I want to share them on social media.

DateFriday, July 19, 2019
WeatherCloudy, then gradual clearing by evening; high temperature in the low 60s
Trail ConditionsMostly moderate climbs and descents, with two short, steep climbs
Today's Miles17.6
Trip Miles1013.6

A photo of my tent that I happened to take with my phone was the only one since leaving Stevens Pass that could be shared on my Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook accounts.

I sent an email to Canon in hopes they could provide a solution. In the meantime and if no solution is found, I will have to use my phone for any photos I wish to share on social media.

After I got over the disappointment, Val, Ralph and I took advantage of the free breakfast in our hotel, then headed to the trailhead, which was about 40 minutes away.

We arrived back at Snoqualmie Pass at 9:45 a.m. Ralph would not be hiking with me today, but I’ll see him again on the trail in a couple of days.

Val was unable yesterday to purchase a pair of shoes he wanted and had debated whether he should order them online. At the last minute, instead of hiking with me up the trail, he decided to walk back down to Summit Inn to order the shoes using the hotel's WiFi.

Right from the start, the trail made a climb of about 500 feet as it traversed several ski runs. The open areas that would be covered in snow and skiers in winter were covered today with grass, small shrubs, and wildflowers.

After leaving the ski resort, the trail entered a thick forest and continued climbing.

I stopped to take a brief snack break and while I was stopped, Bluejay came by. She was followed a short time later by Sunkist. I hadn’t seen either one since we left our campsite two days ago.

An opening in the trees cut for a power line provided a view of Interstate 90, the highway that brought us back to the trail from Issaquah.

Seeing the highway so far below made me think I had been climbing several hundred feet, but that was not the case. After the initial 500-foot climb, the trail lost nearly all of that elevation, then climbed back a hundred feet or so. It only seemed that the trail had ascended much more because I was now seeing the highway at a much lower elevation than Snoqualmie Pass.

A clump of foxglove flowers was nearby. This seemed unusual to me and I wondered how they happened to be there. This plant is not often found in the wilderness because it is not native to the U.S.

Foxglove was introduced from Europe and is frequently found in gardens and floral shops. When you see it in the wilderness, it’s considered to be invasive.

I had to pull off to the side of the trail when I saw a couple with a horse and a mule.

Because most of the PCT is designed to be shared with pack animals, the elevation changes are generally more gradual than trails like the Appalachian Trail.

The trail on this section was rocky, which may have been why the couple was walking with their animals and not riding them.

I stopped for lunch when I found a log to sit on, which was near a forest road. The trail didn’t cross many roads while I was north of Snoqulamie Pass, but already I had crossed a couple and there were more ahead.

While I was eating my lunch, Val came by. He told me he was able to order the shoes he wanted.

The trail crossed Olallie Meadow. The meadow’s name, which is shared by a creek that runs through it, comes from a berry named by the Chinook, Native Americans who lived in the Pacific Northwest.

The PCT also passes an Olallie Lake, but that is in Oregon.

As I crossed the meadow, I saw some beargrass, which has been important for animals and people for centuries. The flower and other parts of beargrass are eaten by deer and elk. Native Americans used the plant for weaving baskets and roasted the roots for eating. They also dried the flowers to use as decorative ornamentation on clothing.

After continuing on a climb for a little more than three miles that went up to just over 4,500 feet, the trail dropped down to Mirror Lake.

This was a lovely spot in the afternoon, especially with Tinkham Peak standing behind it at nearly 5,400 feet in elevation.

Beyond the lake, the trail dropped again, making the total descent since the ridge before Mirror Lake to be about 1,000 feet. Twighlight Lake, which was much smaller than Mirror Lake, was at the bottom of the descent.

Where the climbing resumed, the trail passed many signs warning to stay on the trail. The land to the west was identified as being part of the Cedar River Watershed.

This area was under special protection because it was part of the drainage to the Cedar River, which serves as a drinking water source for the city of Seattle. Though the city had been buying land to protect the watershed since 1899, it only took over full ownership in 1996.

On the last climb of the day, I caught up to Sunkist and Bluejay while they were just finishing a break. I stopped there too, and before they left they mentioned they were planning to camp just ahead at a site near a spring.

When I reached the tentsite, it seemed crowded and I didn’t see a good spot to pitch my tent.

The spring was about a tenth of a mile farther up the trail. Bluejay and Sunkist were there when I stopped to collect water. They asked if I was camping with them, but I explained I didn’t see any room for my tent.

In truth, I was also hoping to get a cell signal at the next available site, which was about 1.4 miles farther. I was hoping Canon had replied to my email with a solution for fixing my camera.

I couldn’t help but feel I had made a bad decision, but I continued walking to the next campsite. I was nagged by the thought I should have camped with Bluejay and Sunkist because they had been so welcoming.

When I reached the tentsite, I discovered it was really just a sloped spot on an old forest road near where it crossed the trail. It was located on a ledge, and in the distance I could see some communication towers. This confirmed for me that I could receive a cell signal.

Compass and Blender, and Tumbleweed and Fable were camped there, but the time was well past 7 p.m. and I didn’t get much time to talk to them.

After pitching my tent and preparing dinner, I crawled into my tent. I found an email from Canon, but it was no help at all. A customer service representative replied with an answer to a problem that had nothing to do with the problem I described.

Now I felt worse about not camping with Bluejay and Sunkist. Did I miss a chance to make some friends?

Then again, there’s probably a good chance I’ll see them on the trail again. Or maybe I’ll become friends with the hikers I’m camped with.

On the trail, you just never know who you’re going to meet and become friends with.

Goes to show, you don't ever know
Watch each card you play and play it slow
Wait until that deal come round
Don't you let that deal go down, no, no

From “Deal” 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.