Day: Tuesday, 20th September 2016
Miles: 2344.5 – 2368.3 (24)
Mike Urich Hut 2344.5 – Remote Camp 2368.3
Following a rain-day, it really does not matter if the terrain is slightly boring, it only matters that its not raining! Today was not the most incredible day for views, but hiking is hiking. It was a day in the great outdoors and it did include the ability to dry-out all of my gear out, whilst simultaneously enjoying periodic sunshine and some beautiful forest scenery. The trail around this point seemed to mark a recess in the high Cascades. Mt.Rainier by now was south of us and scarcely revealed itself. A series of undulating hilly ripples separated us from the higher peaks north of Snoqualmie Pass which was our next major challenge. The next major road-crossing (Interstate-90) of the Cascade Mountains would intersect the Pacific Crest Trail at Snoqualmie Pass, one of only 3 mountain passes that penetrate the Washington Cascades and remain open year-round (White Pass, Snoqualmie Pass and Stevens Pass).
Waking up to the busy scene of hikers packing and setting out on the trail from the Mike Urich Hut, it was a sight of excited industriousness on a huge scale. Some hikers were drying out gear, the non-hikers staying at the hut were stacking wood and preparing to depart, whilst others were hitting the trail early, to take advantage of an incredibly blue and sunny morning.
After walking through the deep woods near the Urich hut, the trail once again climbed a series of gentle ridges exposing views to the east. The skies were clouding over and a cool breeze was pleasantly passing over the valleys. In many areas around this area, you could see distant signs of human activity. Clearcuts and some settlements far to the east were visible, as well as the distant humm of aircraft and traffic on the highway miles to the east.
The trail regularly dropped down into the trees however, at which point the pristine solitude of the forest was once again reinstated.
Yet again the moisture of yesterday was being enjoyed by critters and plant life, and some beautiful mushrooms and fungi greeted me along the trail. I spent most of the day today walking alone, occasionally meeting with the larger crew ahead, as well as FlyBy, EnergizerBunny and some other hikers I had never met. It seemed that I was catching up to more and more hikers, perhaps even the back of the larger (and by now well dispersed) herd. At one point in the late afternoon, a thunderstorm provided some excitement in the form of loud thunder and some raindrops, but thankfully nothing compared to yesterday, and after a little explosion of drama, the clouds dissipated. I spoke with a pleasant woman from the Ukraine, who was hiking with some children near one trailhead. They were shocked when they heard that I had hiked from Mexico, and insisted on taking my picture! I was a hero for a moment in time!
I also spent a good deal of the day hypothesizing on the next 10 days. How many miles per day would allow me to finish by October 1st. How about October 2nd? Or October 3rd? I became preoccupied with planning this out, and it did help to fill some of the monotony of forest and forest roadways that we passed throughout the day.
One of my notes from the day:
Full days remaining:
Today -> Saturday 10/01 = 11 days
305.2 remaining / 11 days = 27 miles per day
Eventually catching up to EnergizerBunny and FlyBy towards nightfall, we came to a muddy seep to gather water before realizing that a huge crew had set up camp just a little ways ahead on an abandoned forest road. There was a beautiful sunset just after setting to the west, and as we finally found a space on the old road, we settled into a shanty town of sorts, with hikers sharing food, stories and some excitement that we were within a stones throw of the end!