Photo Friday: Alpine Lakes Part 4--ending strong in the rain

I started last month with the first two days of this 8-day, 65-mile excursion. Two weeks ago we covered three more days, into the heart of the wilderness--and the thick of the smoke. And last week we saw the end of the smoke at last. Today, we'll finish strong with some great scenery and a last, rainy day to make me happy to be going home.

Day 7

After three days of smoke, the promise of the previous afternoon's wind was fulfilled, and I awoke to largely clear skies (see last week's post). I enjoyed the early morning light, but didn't linger over the photography, aware that I had a long day ahead of me.

Looking across an inlet to the camping peninsula and Chikamin Peak.

It's perhaps only slightly discouraging that one has to start by climbing the 200' back up to the PCT before the day's climb really begins. Views from the trail encourage rest breaks.
Spectacle Lake. The Four Brothers to the left, Chikamin Peak flirting with a cloud on the right.

The climb to Park Lakes is long and steady, but well graded, and I continued to enjoy views of Spectacle Lake, rejoicing in being able to see the scenery! At Park Lake I stopped for water, as I had deliberately not carried much on the climb, knowing I could fill up with only a short detour off the trail.

A writer writes. Taking advantage of the break while my gravity filter did its thing.

The climb continued for a long way above Park Lakes, with ever-improving views.

Approaching the saddle--the scene will change when I pass through to the other side.

Smoke still lingered in the valleys, but the long views were back.

I took another nice break, with snacks (Second Breakfast, or possible First Lunch by then), when I finally reached the saddle that was my high point for the day, and what I foolishly believed was the end of climbing.

My trusty pack, now probably down to under 25 lbs, and getting easy to carry.

The rest of the day would be spent on a huge half-circle traverse, in and out of the lake basins. This is the part where the trail really does hang out almost on the crest of the Cascades, and you get payback for all those long climbs.
Gold Creek drainage. Joe Lake is visible below the pointed peaks, between Huckleberry Mtn and Alaska Mtn.

When I could tear my eyes from the long views, I also found some cool small stuff.

I'm not sure what kind of flower, though I am sure I should know.

I don't know much about this rock, either. Sliced and polished by the glaciers.

As I hinted at above, the trail didn't stick to one level on the long traverse. It dropped and climbed around cliff bands on a long open slope, and it dropped around each of the lake basins, then climbed up around the peaks either side.
Joe Lake (above) and Alaska Lake were pretty and appealing, but not particularly accessible. It's a long way between campsites on this stretch, unless you carry water for a dry camp.

I finally reached Ridge Lake, the only really viable campsite between Park Lake and Snoqualmie (as in, it has water), a little after 5 p.m. The sun was still out at that point, but the wind and changing weather were continuing to pick up speed.
Ridge Lake, still looking pleasant as the afternoon breeze picks up.

Rain started before dark as a light mist. I was oddly unable to stay warm, even walking around. Temperatures weren't that low, but I figured I was just worn out, and damp air feels extra cold. As it grew damper and colder, I crawled into bed, expecting a good sleep, as I'd had every night on the trail. 

Day 7 stats: 10.7 miles, 4800' up, 3800' down

Day 8

Sleep came and went as I found myself blowing my nose more and more, until by morning I realized my problem. Somehow, while doing a solo hike in the open air, I had managed to catch a cold. I hadn't done that since before the pandemic! Between my dripping nose and drooping energy, and the continued rain and mist, I was ready to go home. 

Still mostly cheerful, and enjoying the beauty of the forest in the mist. It creates scenes much like the smoke, but is much easier to breathe.

I managed to get a cell signal at one point on the trail, let my daughter know I was heading out early and as fast as I could, and would be as much as an hour early at the TH. She managed to bustle around and was there at 11:00, a good 15-20 minutes before I walked out of the woods. I was incredibly grateful to her for that, as she saved me from a cold wait for transport. I changed into the dry clothes I had thoughtfully left in the car before starting the trip, and we zipped off to find burgers and hot drinks.

Sick and in need of a shower, but happy to be done and pleased with my ability to do the hike.

Day 8 stats: 7 miles, 325' up, 2600' down. Finishing pack weight around 22 lbs.

And that's a wrap! The total trip was about 66 miles, plus the dayhike to Circle Lake on Day 3. In the 8 days I climbed some 20,000' and dropped about 19,000 (the ending TH was 1000' higher than the start).

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2023
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  1. Wow! And I used the post to continue the band from Hell for the longest time time ever!


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