Day 107: But The Suffering Heavy?

Mile reached: 2482.5 (+18.4 + 0.3 bonus)

High: My hat does an excellent job of doubling as an umbrella.

Low: Needing to use my hat as an umbrella.

Even though it was just the five of us there was a lot of noise throughout the night in the large dormitory. It seemed like someone was always shuffling in or out. But, rain was in the forecast, so there was no rush to get going in the morning. Rather, there was even the temptation to spend another night and be sure that we missed the rain entirely. The volunteer hosts from the Mountaineers took care of us just as they did the previous night. The cook was a real southern boy and made us cheesy grits for breakfast, which were actually so good that I had several helpings. But, by late morning we knew that we needed to get going.

“Extra Miles” had finally decided that she was just going to hike with us rather than try and rush to the border. If she only made it to highway 20 before the wedding, she would just get picked up there. However, a friend was driving down from Canada and was going to meet up with her at Stevens Pass in a hour or two. So, we’d leave without her, though she mentioned that she might skip the strenuous stretch ahead and go directly to Stehekin. The “Super Siblings” left a little ahead of “Gandalf” and myself, but we caught them quickly before the first climb of the day. Entertainingly, “Birdshit” didn’t hear us come up from behind, so I was able to give him a nudge with my trekking pole, which caused him to jump.

Highway 2 at Stevens Pass. Thanks to a pedestrian bridge we didn’t have to play Frogger.
For a second it looked like it might clear up.

From Stevens Pass the trail continued it’s rolling 1,000 foot climbs amidst beautiful scenery. Since it was the weekend, there were hordes of day hikers but not enough to detract from the experience. At Stevens it had seemed like the clouds were breaking, but the further north we travelled the stormier it became. Shortly after I found a bag of trail magic hanging from a trail sign, it started to rain. As is common in Washington, it started just as a light sustained drizzle, not enough to worry about. But, slowly it built up to become an actual rain storm that soaked the canopy above. My hat effectively kept me dry for a while, but I was quickly becoming cold and wet. So, I pulled out my poncho (actually my a part of my tent) and donned it. This kept me dry enough, and I continued through the rain scurrying quickly through the clearings in the trees.

The stormy clouds seemed to make everything more dramatic.
Definitely on the west side, lots of Devils Club

After the rain let up a little bit, I took my lunch break just off to the side of the trail and waited. For almost an hour no one showed up, but then “Birdshit” came tromping along. Apparently, the three of them had taken cover under some trees during the rain, and so “Gandalf” was just a little ways back. The “Super Siblings” were planning on going just a few more miles to camp on top of a mountain, but I wanted to talk “Gandalf” into going further to a lake that was supposed to be nice. “Birdshit” continued on and “Gandalf” joined me a few minutes later making the obligatory comments about how nice it was to have a puffy right now.

Satisfied with the plan, we got back on trail to do the remaining miles to camp. The hope was that we’d even be able to have a campfire at night to combat the cold. At the top of the climb, I found a frustrated “Birdshit” tucked away in the trees. His sister wouldn’t let him carry the tent poles, so he couldn’t get up the tent until she finally arrived. Tauntingly, I mentioned our plan to go a bit further and have a fire, which elicited remarks about how nice it was to have a puffy. With a wave I was off and cruised downhill to the start of the final climb to camp.

Just to the east it looked dry, but we were not there.
Near the top of a mountain the PCT literally goes over

After the brief respite from the earlier rain, the weather was turning wetter again. About a mile and a half short of the lake it began to rain. I thought I could just push through it and make it to camp, but it continued and got heavier. Finally, in exasperation I threw down my pack and got my poncho out again to keep from getting soaked. Of course, camp wasn’t much further ahead. Even though it was a large site, it was crowded with weekend backpackers, some of whom brought their small French Bulldog. Nevertheless, I found an area to pitch my tent and waited for “Gandalf” to appear.

Curiously, the next thru-hiker to walk into camp was “Birdshit”! In addition to myself, “Gandalf” has also been taunting him with the prospect of a fire, so he convinced his sister to hike further. Even better, “Birdshit” was surprised that “Gandalf” wasn’t already in camp, which meant the he went the wrong way. Sure enough, five minutes later an embittered “Gandalf” rolled in. After getting settled, we focused on getting a fire started using only wet wood, which the “Super Siblings” took charge of. With surplus gas, “Gandalf” and I even offered to warm up their cold ramen and mashed potatoes. Before it got too late, we all snuck back to our tents and shook off the water before going to sleep.

And it’s getting wetter.
The view from camp

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