Hiking the Washington PCT Section K: Days 3 & 4

Day 3: August 4th, 2018

Pear Lake to Lake Sally Ann

10 miles

The wind had dissipated, but the faint light that was shining through the top of our tent was still being filtered through a thick layer of clouds and mist as we stretched our sore muscles on the morning of day 3.

The diet of much fewer calories than we were burning was starting to kick in as we got our gears in motion. My legs felt like lead, and my recently started period was making me feel much weaker than I expected. It was easy to retreat back into the negative space in my mind full of doubts, but as we pushed on, climbing through a gigantic boulder field and down into a green valley, the fog started to lift, and jagged peaks began to make an appearance in the distance.

As we continued quickly along this forested section, we met our first thru hikers, a woman named Savage and her beautiful dog Dirtpaw. They ran past us as Lori optimistically yelled see ya later! But we all knew we wouldn’t see them again at that quick pace!

It was along this riverbed that I twisted my ankle pretty bad and took a little fall on the trail. Each step after that was a little painful, so once we stopped at the river for lunch, I wrapped it with an Ace wrap (thanks, Swedish) for support and hoped that would do the trick!

After lunch, we knew we had a steep, long climb to gain back the ridge and exit the river valley. It was hot and exposed in parts, definitely testing our ability to consume enough water and put on enough sunscreen!

Once we gained the ridge, we could see for miles in every direction, the green carpet of trees slowly giving way to the north to more bare, sharp, brownish-red peaks, my favorite landscape features hiking in the North Cascades.

It was here, on top of this ridge, that hiker karma came through! My original pocketknife I had found at the top of Poo Poo Point over 5-6 years ago while looking for a hidden geocache. I had unfortunately lost it during our rainy and muddy excursion to Ozette in April.

Here on the ridge, I caught a glint of something shiny in the brush. I had found a new pocket knife! After inspecting it quickly, I strapped it to my pack and we continued on.

Now with the clouds and mist fully evaporated, the beautiful browns and vibrant green made their appearance against a glowing blue sky. These were some of my favorite views on the entire trip, maybe because they were our first real sunny day, or maybe it was just the pure beauty this day held. Either way, we took our time traversing along the ridge line until we saw the shining blue waters of Lake Sally Ann around the corner, tucked into a small cirque with a beautiful small waterfall and a marmot very perturbed by a black dog that must have looked like a bear.

After finding a site that wasn’t too dusty (dust+rain=mud), we relaxed by the water, soaking our tired feet. Maybe one day Gracie will put her feet in the water without several shrill screams, but today was not that day.

We retired to bed before the sun, listening to the rather annoying and boastful thru hikers that took our old dusty spot.

Thunder rumbled in the distance as we drifted off to sleep and prayed for no new lightning strikes and fires.

Day 4: August 5th, 2018

Lake Sally Ann to White Chuck River

13 miles

Do you smell smoke?

It’s always fun waking up to that question in the wilderness.

But the answer was yes, smoke had definitely come in from somewhere around us as we packed up camp. The sun carried its eerie orange glow up into the sky as we started on our fourth day, knowing it was the longest mileage day yet for our trek.

Not long into our day’s journey we came upon a baby marmot hanging out on a rock right by the trail! It was so cute and small, yet to gain the beer belly that makes them such interesting animals in an alpine environment.

This day seemed to make up for the first two in terms of stunning views. We came out of the valley we had been traveling through for the first few days and crossed into Glacier Peak Wilderness, complete with a broken sign and distant hazy view of its namesake beckoning us forward.

Gorgeous carpets of tall wildflowers covered the trail for many miles as we steadily climbed, our goal being White Pass. We walked along a steep ridge for quite a while, having to coax each other to continue on before the heights made us freeze. Sloan Peak and its friends appeared in the distance, snow covered and grand. We came around the corner to even more mountains in the north, hidden behind a wall of thick smoke, but peaking through nonetheless.

As we crossed over White Pass, an awe inspiring glacier-carved galley opened up below us, it’s bowl-shaped curves gently cradling the trail as it stretched off into the distance.

We took our time descending into the valley, following a tributary to the White Chuck River, our end destinations the same. Glacier Peak was in our face, offering us views we knew we wouldn’t see again unless we decided to try and reach its summit.

We reached our campsite early in the afternoon, legs protesting the ascents and descents of the day.

We were chased inside our tents early by relentless mosquitos and biting flies, resigned only to the views through the top of our tent.

As we sat there going over maps and mileage for our upcoming journey in the morning, we realized we had somehow made a mistake. Even after double and triple checking, we had overlooked 7 crucial miles and would have to make up that mileage somehow…

Leave a Reply