Saturday, August 15, 2015

White Pass

Wow. It was wet, wet, wet this morning, after 13 hours in my tent. It rained all night, with some thunder and lightening thrown in for good measure. When it started to get light I looked out and saw raindrops all around. Not so much falling from the sky but from the trees. When a big one would go splat on the tent, the spray from the moisture on the inside of the tent would drift down. While the fabric kept the outside rain from coming in, it also gathered condensation from my breath and the wet ground. Let's just say, everything was kinda wet. 
Deciding what to do next was tough. Two flexible people, with a tendency to think positive, have a hard time evaluating risk.
Or wanting to intertain the idea of heading south (to the car) instead of the planned trail north. What cinched it for me was the fact that while my gear was damp, L's was wet. If it continued to rain, which was entirely likely, then she would be doubly wet, with the danger of hypothermia lurking near. Plus, I was mostly dry and warm but my own margin of error was narrowed since my "just in case" gear had been offered to L. So I voted for a return to the car and, as it turned out, it was the right decision. 
So we retraced our steps of the day before. The cool thing is that it all looks different going the other way, plus it was more clear and we could actually see the terrain.  It took a bit longer to hike those ten miles today, probably since it wasn't raining cats and dogs, but we managed to get back to the car near 4pm with a new plan of getting a room at the Inn here and drying out all our stuff. 

We did get lucky and got a room, soon to be strewn with wet gear...
And leisurely beers on the deck. 
Now it's time for sleeping and I've opted for the bottom bunk. What could go wrong?

Section I, Washington PCT

It is strange to be picking this blog up after so many months of absence. I won't spend time now talking about this. Instead I'll jump right into the description of this section hike. 

My Washington hiking buddy L met me at Chinook Pass this morning at 9:30. She had driven down from Bellingham and we were to leave her car at the pass, take my car south to Highway 12 and hike back north to her car, taking three leisurely days to hike the 30 miles. When I arrived the pass was socked in and the fog was so thick I couldn't see across the street. 

Fortunately I had looked at the forecast and Mt. Rainer was supposed to get rain, snow flurries and lightening today so I had thrown in some extra gear. A wind shirt, buff and wind vest. It was hard to imagine it being cold since I had been sweltering in Yakima with 103 degree days. 

We donned our packs at 11:15 and off we went, in a beautiful swirling fog. We walked for an hour then stopped for lunch, in the shelter of some trees. The fog had started to go 3-D on us and began to turn into droplets. It turned out that L had also been unable to imagine rain, since it hasn't rained in Bellingham for three months, so she didn't bring rain gear. Over the next few hours the fog turned into rain while L got wetter and wetter. I gave her my extras and we managed to walk the 10 miles needed to get to Snow Lake but it was full on raining when we arrived. 

All of the established campsites were inhabited by others so we walked along the lake shore till we found some relatively level ground under some trees. L put up her tent, which unfortunately is kind of like a big, roomy bivy tent. She can't sit up in there so she's stuck in her tent, with her wet gear, till morning.

I made her some miso soup with seaweed, which was quite yummy, and she finished off my dinner of Thai Chicken. A big deal since she is a vegetarian.   

It's only 6:45PM and we are both ensconced in our sleeping bags and tents. It continues to rain and all around us is damp. A novel thing since it has been bone dry around here for months. I think I will be able to get warm tonight and hopefully stay dry, but if it is still raining in the morning I wonder if it is a good idea to continue on. L has no rain gear and most of her stuff is wet, except what she is sleeping in. I guess only time will tell.