Day 106: How Can The Burden Be Light

Mile reached: 2464.1 (+21.5 + 0.2 bonus)

High: Spending the evening at the Mountaineers Lodge

Low: Mosquitoes chasing me on the trail near Deception Lake

As soon as I woke up, I knew that this was going to be a good day. It was still early (read: not hot), and it was barely 20 miles to Stevens Pass. My pack was also quite light since I had eaten most of my food. Rather than languish in the heat, I could push some miles and get there around lunchtime. The conclusion of the previous night’s skip trail conversation was that everyone would hike the PCT into Steven’s Pass. However, everyone was ahead of me except for “Stay Puft”, who has been incredibly lazy since Oregon.

Just a few miles from camp the trail approached Deception Lake, which seemed like it might have been pleasant if it weren’t for the host of mosquitoes. This stretch became an exercise in hopping around and swatting mosquitoes simultaneously. There was also an alternate in this area, which I accidentally took as the trail junction wasn’t marked clearly enough for how distracted I was. But, the alternate was nice, because it took a more direct path up through a saddle and back down to the PCT on the far side. This put me ahead of everyone else, and my lead would only grow throughout the rest of the day due to lots of 1,000 foot ups and downs.

 

There was a surprising amount of smoke in the morning that had us all wondering where it was coming from.
The short drop down the backside of my shortcut.
Lots of granite, which was a surprise.

Overall, conditions were marginal as there was quite a bit of smoke in the air obscuring the more distant peaks. However, the scenery up close was still sufficiently scenic and improved as I got closer to Stevens Pass. Not being sure how far in front of everyone else I was, I sat down near one of the final water sources on the trail prior to the ski resort and feasted on ramen and tuna fish in oil. Numerous weekend backpackers passed heading the opposite direction, but no thru-hikers showed up. So, I figured I’d just go to Stevens Pass and wait for everyone else to trickle in.

I could just barely see Mount Baring and Mount Index along with a layer of smoke.
Closer to Stevens it seemed like visibility was a little better.
I ate lunch next to this…
A much nicer lake
The last ski resort on the trail
The last transmission lines too!

Just a little after noon, I rolled into Stevens Pass and made a beeline for the lodge. A package had been shipped to me, and the staff quickly found it. There was also a very well stocked hiker box out of which I pulled a whole package of smoked salmon! Otherwise, I snaked a little and people watched from the patio until “Gandalf” and “Extra Miles” arrived in tandem. A little later, the “Super Siblings” and “Stay Puft” joined us for a late lunch. There was a hiker trash burger of sorts on the menu, but “Gandalf” and I thought better of it and ate a normal burger for a normal person.

Stevens Pass itself has nowhere to stay, though I surmised that we may have been able to camp in the trees somewhere. However, the Mountaineers, an outdoor group based in Seattle, have a lodge in the pass and opened it that night for PCT thru-hikers. So, we went over there and were met by some very welcoming hosts. We were able to shower and do laundry, and they even cooked us diner. The lot of us stayed up late (read: 10 pm) talking and drinking beer. After two beers, “Himalaya” even worked up the resolve to tell me that when I first passed her she thought I was going to be a real asshole. (Apparently, “Dreamcrusher” was the only other person around wearing a straw hat.) But, she’d decided that I wasn’t and enjoyed getting to know me. At some point, I wandered off to bed and chose a space at the opposite end of the dorm from “Gandalf”, since he snores and wakes up every morning before 5.

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