PCT 2019: Day 82, Killen Creek to Trout Lake

Get prepared, there's gonna be a party tonight

My alarm was set for 4:30 this morning. This was a day for an early start because I needed to walk just over 15 miles to reach a road into the small village of Trout Lake.

Dave and I were planning to resupply there and that required a 14-mile hitch. We wanted to get to the road as early as possible in case it took a while before someone picked us up.

DateSaturday, July 27, 2019
WeatherCloudy with occasional mist, gradually clearing; high temperature in the upper 60s
Trail ConditionsEasy ups and downs with some stream crossings
Today's Miles15.4
Trip Miles1160.2

The trail wasn’t difficult for this section, so at least that was a help in making good time. We left camp just before 6 a.m.

Compared to yesterday, my view of Mt. Adams from our campsite was much different. The mountain was wrapped in a large cloud.

The cloud was a lenticular formation, which is sometimes described as appearing like a flying saucer. A cloud with this shape is stationary and formed when stable, moist air collides with an object, typically a mountain. The object forces a wave in the air’s motion and the cloud forms at the wave’s crest.

The first part of the trail was a barely-noticeable climb, gaining less than 250 feet in 1.4 miles. The rest of the day was much like that, with smooth ups and downs.

In just under three miles, the trail crossed Adams Creek. Opaque water swiftly-flowed from a glacier at the base of the mountain.

Some logs and rocks provided a makeshift bridge. It wasn’t stable, but I didn’t have difficulty crossing.

The trail then crossed a lava bed. It was a jumble of rocks of all sizes. Some were red from the oxidation of iron.

Thankfully, the trail was mostly clear. It must have been a big effort by trail construction crews to move the rocks and open a smooth path for the trail.

A larger lava bed followed. Wildflowers and trees had somehow found space among the rocks to sprout and grow.

With a smooth trail and easy elevation changes, I was able to walk swiftly. To save time, I didn’t stop for breakfast or lunch.

At every creek was fast-moving water that either looked like chocolate milk or white milk. This was because sediment and minerals coming from rocks and snowmelt were mixed with large amounts of air as the water cascaded down the mountain.

Other than rocks and logs, there were no bridges over the streams.

The water in Riley Creek flowed from Pinnacle Glacier, which has retreated to become a proglacial lake.

After about 2.5 hours of walking, the trail took on a “spooky” atmosphere. It entered a burn area just as a mist began to fall.

Trees stood like ghosts in the foggy gloom.

These conditions remained for the next couple of hours and only improved as I got closer to the road.

Dave was just ahead of me and we arrived there shortly after 1 p.m. A couple more hikers were also there.

We had no way to call for a ride because there wasn’t any cell service at the road, so we waited and hoped someone would come by.

Before long, a young couple on a weekend excursion stopped to offer some trail magic. They said they hoped to hike the trail someday. When they learned we were trying to get to Trout Lake, they offered to drive us there.

The village was tiny, with much of its economy dependent on the trail and other recreational opportunities in the surrounding mountains and forests. The residents and business owners recognize this and go out of their way to help hikers.

A variety of options were available in Trout Lake for where to stay. Dave and I chose to do what most hikers did, which was camp on the lawn next to the general store.

The store was the central hub for hikers, allowing us to pick up resupply boxes shipped there, purchase additional food items, shower, and do laundry.

A couple of sleeping rooms were available for rent upstairs, but they were already taken. I soon learned that Bluejay and Sunkist were in one.

A hiker I had not met until today named Growler was staying the other room. He hiked the AT the same year I did, but we never met on that trail because he started about a month before I did.

Later, more hikers arrived, including Val. Once again, I was surprised to see he was behind me and not ahead of me. He told me he ran into Ralph the day before yesterday when Ralph and I left Goat Rocks.

Other hikers staying at the general store included Breezy, Quinn, Kermit, Muffy, Carrot, and Bogwitch. I was glad to see Firesox was also there. She seemed to be doing well with her sprained ankle.

I learned that MJ was camped behind a local church, so I walked the short distance to say hello to my Woohoo Crew friend. She was no longer hiking the trail full time, but had rented a car and was stopping along the trail to be a trail angel and section hike.

MJ caught me up on the status of the other members of our desert section tramily. She said that I should be running into Just Awesome soon.

Later, she joined Dave and me, plus Quinn, Firesox, Bluejay, and Sunkist, at a restaurant called Trout Lake Country Inn. It was a quaint place with good food, but the service was dreadfully slow. Still, it was a fun hiker gathering and it was wonderful to see MJ again.

The time was nearly hiker midnight when we finally finished dinner and returned to the general store. I decided to cowboy camp (without a tent) because it was a beautiful, clear evening.

By morning, I would learn the lawn was not a great place to cowboy camp.

I went down to the mountain
I was drinking some wine
I looked up into heaven
Lord, I saw a mighty sign
Writ in fire across the heaven
Plain as black and white
Get prepared, there's gonna be a party tonight

Uh-huh, hey, Saturday night
One more Saturday night
Hey, Saturday night

From “One More Saturday Night” by Bob Weir (Grateful Dead)


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