I now have better internet connection, so I will go back and add details and pictures to my previous posts, so be sure to check back…
Highlights: Compared to the last section around Glacier Peak, conditions were much better for this section. There was not nearly as much snow for starters. We were nervous about a dangerous creek that we would have to ford, but it turned out there was a snow bridge caused my avalanche snow which meant we could walk over it, but the bushwhacking up a steep slope back to the trail was a bit of a challenge. The “Katwalk” was snow-free, however the section right before that, where the trail is more narrow and covered in loose rocks was much scarier for someone with a fear of heights. There were a few fingers of snow left in the ridge which had to be traversed. These traverses for the most part were short, and some could even be scrambled around. The section took 4 days.
Day 13: Stevens Pass to near Surprise Lake, 12 miles
July 15: After spending the night at the Dinsmores, we were able to track down our packages which had been bouncing back and forth from Kent, WA to Skykomish. We had breakfast at the “cafe” across the street from the Dinsmores, and then got a ride back to the trail. At the trailhead was the Lodge for the ski resort, and we were tempted into getting a soda and ice cream before leaving up the trail. We didn’t get hiking until about 1pm. Sadie had managed to get her package the day before and got going early in the morning. Swept Away’s package was lost with ours, and she hiked out with us. Almost every day we have been hearing fighter jets practicing in the mountains. They are extremely loud. Today we were hiking through patches of snow, and a couple of jets swept through the valley not 500 ft away from us. In an effort to cover his ears before they were pierced, Dirt Stew slipped on the snow right onto his butt.
Day 14: Surprise Lake to Waptas Creek, 24 miles
July 15: We hiked up to Piper Pass, which was still covered in snow, but was much less steep compared to the passes which we went over in the previous section.
We made it to Deception Creek, which was supposed to be a difficult ford, but it had a snow bridge which we could cross on. Once safely on the other side, we had to scramble up a very steep slope for quite some distance in order to regain the trail. A mile or two before we got to the creek, we saw helicopters coming low into the valley. We wondered about Sadie who we knew was about half a day ahead of us. On the other side of the steam we passed a note left under a rock that said something like “I will go back north up to mile 2450 to look for you”. We later found out that two boys ahead of us got separated and lost, and one was worried that the other got swept away at the stream crossing. A search and rescue was launched, but everyone turned out to be fine. Later in the day, Dirt Stew post holed and injured his knee slightly by over extending it. We camped near a stream and were surprised to meet another hiker, Tom, who was hiking slowly northbound taking his time.
Day 15: Waptas Creek to mile 2014: 24 miles
July 16: Today we hit a very steep part right before the Katwalk, which had some small sections of snow left over. This was the only time during this section that I became a bit nervous during snow traversing.
Even walking along this section without snow was intimidating due to the elevation and the loose rock. It was a long way to look down into the valley. We also saw a huge forest fire in the distance. If Swept Away was not there to tell us otherwise (she is studying geology), Dirt Stew and I would have seriously thought it was a volcano erupting.
Day 16: Mile 2014 to Snoqualmie Pass: 12 miles
July 17: We got across the “Katwalk” with no difficulties. It was extremely scenic. Very rugged mountains and jagged rocks in all directions. Fantastic views of Rainier in the morning.
We got down to Snoqualmie Pass by 1pm, but had to wait until after 6pm for our friend Peter to come pick us up so we could spend the night in Redmond. In the meantime, we walked to the Chevron Station, and checked out the food truck called Aardvark, which had fantastic food, and great company. We ate about 3 meals there and chatted with locals over wine at the picnic tables, enjoying some downtime. After Peter picked us up, we did a few chores before devouring pizza and cake. We are clean and stuffed full of good food!