Day 103: Back To The Known

Mile reached: 2393.1 (+17.6 + 3.8 bonus)

High: Tagging a bonus peak and being treated to great views above the smoke

Low: The trail was obnoxiously rocky for the last few miles into Snoqualmie Pass, and “Gandalf” skipped that section!

In the dark, I had camped 20 feet away from two section hikers, who surprisingly got up around the same time I did. While we were talking, “Red Cross” came by and stopped to catch up. In particular, he emphasized how tired he felt and that it was hard to get into a rhythm this morning. Eventually, they all got going before I did, but I caught up, after I started hiking. As I passed him, “Red Cross” and I started talking eventually leading to me setting pace for him. Throughout, the the morning the trail was strenuous including a 2,000 foot climb. As we reached a lake near the top, “Red Cross” insisted that we couldn’t possibly be more than halfway up. Distracted with conversation, we had crushed the climb!

A beautiful lake in the morning that was practically begging us to swim

As we started the lengthy descent into Snoqualmie Pass, we reached a use trail junction with the PCT. This use trail climbed aggressively up to eventually reach Silver Peak more than 2,000 feet above us. Now, since Silver Peak is a P2k, I had to go up and tag it. “Red Cross” quizzically admired my energy and said he’d see me in town. (We still had to settle a dispute over whether or not root beer tasted like ginger beer.) I found a spot in the trees to hide most of my gear and started the climb with an almost empty pack. The trail was direct and aggressive to the point that I occasionally had to use my hands. There was even plenty of talus hopping, but I always enjoy large talus fields.

In less than an hour, I was on the summit and treated to 360 degree views with many distinct mountains that I recognized instantly. However, my summit rest was marred by the presence of swarming flying ants. They didn’t bite, but they got everywhere. Oddly, there were also mosquitoes on top of the peak but completely absent below. So, I only spent a few minutes soaking in the views before dropping down 60 feet and finding a rock to sit on while I ate a snack. With miles still to go to town, I reluctantly got going and made my way back down to the PCT.

Silver Peak up above the talus
Fortunately, there views and all that smoke was a ways off.
The I-90 corridor
The summit rock covered in flying ants

The descent into Snoqualmie Pass was pretty horrible due to the trail being rocky, and it didn’t help that I was ready to be done. Time was seemingly distorted those last few miles, but eventually I reached a small pass and could see Guye Peak, which stood above the ski resort. From here it was all downhill and the tread became easy, especially as I hit the access roads for the ski resort. I walked into the gas station in town and discovered that both “Gandalf” and “Extra Miles” were already there. This was surprising, because even with my side trip they should have still been miles behind. After prodding a little bit, they admitted that they skipped trail and walked into town along the lake avoiding all the ups and downs on the PCT. “Sub-Zero” had decided to do the trail, and we wouldn’t see him until the end of the day.

Snoqualmie Pass and familiar mountains just ahead!

As promised “Red Cross” was around (he admitted that root beer does not taste like ginger beer), and he was dreading the heat. The miles out of Snoqualmie Pass would be extremely strenuous, and it was already sweltering. While we would spend the night at the hotel, he was going to do another 10 miles! “Gandalf” and I were also surprised to discover that we had finally caught “Fruit Salad”. This caused me to remark that maybe we’d catch the “Super Siblings” too. Immediately, someone else piped up telling us that we already had. They were in Snoqualmie too taking a zero.

The afternoon was spent eating and sorting out a resupply in the gas station parking lot. The four of us opted to split a room and attempted to clean ourselves by showering. The dirt was so caked onto my skin that being satisfactorily clean took a different standard. Later in the evening, “Gandalf” and the others rounded me up for dinner, which was delicious. The other gas station in town had a surprisingly good pizza place! Afterwards, rather than drink we all wandered back to the room and crashed hard.

The pizzas were bigger than expected such that we weren’t able to eat everything…

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