Day Eight: Park Lake to Snoqualmie Pass

Distance: 15.4 miles

After another great trip, we were going home. I didn't want to leave, but I was looking forward to the next section, from the Park Lakes Basin to Ridge Lake, which is supposed to have spectacular views. The weather looked like it might clear as we left the campsite. Kevin took the photo at left from the trail above our lake when the sun was still shining. Behind the lake is the Box Ridge and Alta Mountain.

Park Lakes Basin with Alta Mountain in distance.

When we got to the first section of scree above the Park Lakes, I asked Bob to take a shot of me standing in the rocks. Little did I know that this was going to be the last time for about eight miles that I would not be hiking in fog.

It was the toughest eight miles of the entire trip. You couldn't walk flat on the scree, so my sore ankle was constantly being twisted. At times the fog was so thick and the trail so rough, I wasn't sure that I was following it. Could I be lost in a rock field instead, I wondered.

At left, Tom in the first bit of scree. At right, hikers in the fog near the Kendall Catwalk.

One diversion was the flood of thruhikers coming north. The most impressive was True with her dog, Timber. The two of them had hiked all the way from Mexico. Timber looked happy, but he was on a leash. "He's part hound," True said. "If he saw some wildlife, he'd take off." Timber had made it through the desert by hiking at night with its master, and had gone through about seven sets of dog booties. Other thruhikers, included Dave and Arlene on their trail horses, Supertramp and many, many more (whose trail names I have forgotten) passed us during that morning.

I was the slowest hiker of the four because of my ankle and I wondered if anyone would be there when I finally reached the lunch spot--Ridge Lake. It seemed to take forever to get there, and I hardly rested at all due to the cool and moist air. But, at last, I came to the lake I had visited about four times before on day hikes from Seattle, and there was Bob and Chuck.

After lunch we started down and gradually got warmer. We also ran into hordes of dayhikers as we marched past the famous Kendall Catwalk, a stretch of the PCT blasted out of a wall of rock. We were hoping that our good friend Rob would be hiking from the trailhead to meet us. He was our pick up service back to Seattle and planned to start hiking from the trailhead to meet us on the trail. Suddenly we heard his voice and found him about three miles from the cars. We chatted and joked all the way down the mountain, and Rob gave us beer, corn chips and a great welcome when we finally ended our hike at Snoqualmie Pass.

The Gang of Four celebrates hiking 75 miles of the PCT at Snoqualmie Pass.

Since I live in Seattle, this was the closest stretch of the PCT I would ever hike. The logistics were easy, since we could ask local friends to help with transportation and it took less than two hours to get to either trailhead. For those who can hike 20 miles a day, half of it on fields of scree, it is possible to start at Snoqualmie Pass and go north. For a slower pace, the southbound option from Stevens Pass works better.

Great company makes a great hike, no matter what the weather. I couldn't have asked for better hiking partners. My only complaint was that the trip was too short. Last year I had spent two weeks on the trail. This year it was only one, and I could feel the difference. What could I do to make sure next year's hike would be longer?

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