We woke up to a misty and cold morning – one of the coldest we’d had in a while. We had breakfast in the tent, took it slowly and hiked out only at 9:20. T-Bone took a painkiller even before starting!
The day started with a long gradual uphill, taking us higher than the treetops, onto hillsides and over ridges. It quickly got warmer and yet it was still smoky from the forest fires. I admired the distant snowy peaks, the lakes below in the valleys and the bottom of Mt. Rainier, visible through the smoke. I crossed a sizeable river over a big log and met some other hikers.
Soon I caught up with Kristians by a stream at 9 miles / 15 kilometers from the start of the day. We took a break, filled up on water and had a snack. Soon T-Bone also arrived and we hanged out a bit. But then it was time to head out – we went up, down and up again until the second break, passing by amazing views and lots of berries. I caught up with the guys, in fact, and we had a proper berry feast of huckleberries and blueberries. But we had to hike on…
Suddenly, as I was walking on the narrow path a black dog blasted by me, heading south – it scared me but the dog barely noticed me. When I went on I met Kristians who told me the same had happened to him and that the dog had seemed distressed, perhaps looking for his owners. We soon met the guy – apparently the dog had ran off chasing something and was now going in the wrong direction so he headed after him. A short while later we met his wife and their other dog and had a long chat together – about life, hiking and dogs.
Soon, after a downhill, we reached the beautiful blue Dewey Lake, where me and Kristians took a longer lunchbreak. T-Bone headed straight on – we actually had only 5 miles / 8.5 kilometers to go. But we were right behind him as we only stopped for about half an hour. We also realized that we were soon going to run out of gas and yet we had about 6 more meals to cook until the next resupply…
Next up was a 300m ascent, the same downhill and then the last 200 m climb. I passed lots of dayhikers on my way but somehow the uphill was pretty easy. Right after crossing the ridge I hiked down to a small lake and was surrounded by meadows. I could also see down to the highway taking hundreds of people to the Mt Rainier National Park. Kristians caught up with me just before the roadcrossing and we hiked the last kilometers together. The whole valley was, unsurprisingly, covered in smoke and so the views were probably not as amazing as usual.
The final uphill took us through a freen forest up to the Sheep Lake where we soon found T-Bone already in his tent, having finished his dinner. We got water from the lake and washed ourselves a bit before having our dinner. We discussed the next day’s plan – we wanted to hike only about 23 miles to get to a hut. And then it was time to sleep – it seemed to be another cold night.
We had a shorter day ahead so we took it super lazy in the morning, waking up only at 8. It was already smoky and there was condensation on our tents. We tried to dry our stuff a bit once the sun came out after the breakfast so we set out only at 9:40. The trail started uphill, following the hills around the valley where the Sheep Lake was and rewarding us with some great views.
The trail kept climbing and descending from hills to ridges – pretty tough on the feet but great for the eyes. We got some amazing views of Mt Rainier – this time not covered by smoke. After 8 miles / 13.5 kilometers, as the trail bent around a hill, I found Kristians having a break by a stream. He was not hungry and decided to hike straight on whereas I took some water, had a snack and waited for T-Bone. He also wasn’t hungry so we pushed on together, chatting – he decided to have his lunch about 3 miles ahead whereas I kept going.
I now went through a burned forest, the obstacles of fallen trees lining the trail. A long downhill then finally took me to our second break by a stream – it was a bit eerie to sit there, in black ash-coloured ground and surrounded by charred trees. But a break is a break. As we were finishing T-Bone arrived and also filled up on water.
Kristians and I then hiked on together – we had only 5mi/8 kilometers to go until the hut. I was feeling strong and full of energy so we pushed in fast, running the downhills and powerwalking the uphills. Even though it wasn’t easy it passed like a breeze and soon enough we went through a green lush forest that took us to the meadow by the hut. It was early (around 17) but the smoke coloured the sunlight as if it was already sunset.
We crossed the stream by the hut and went to check out the house – it was a log cabin built in 1992, in very good shape. There were already other hikers there and more coming in but we decided to set up our tent behind the cabin – that’s also when T-Bone arrived. We also finally met Bernie, to whom we gave the letter entrusted to us at White Pass – the search was over. Then it was time to get water, wash up a bit and get on with dinner.
We decided to make a fire in the metal fire pit (no other fires are currently allowed in WA) so we could save some gas! We were joined first by two southbound hikers, then an older couple, some section hikers and then later by a couple we had been leapfrogging for the last two days. We hanged out until about 8, after which it was time to brush teeth and head into the tent for some rest. The next day we planned to hike 28 miles until Lizard Lake.
Because we had a big day ahead we got our asses up already at 6:30. T-Bone was fast and left already while we were having our breakfast (almost no gas left!). We also discovered that Agamemnon had arrived late last night and camped here – apparently he had lost his phone and now had no map! We said bye and finally hiked out at 7:55.
The whole day was a bit dull – partially due to the smoke hiding all the views, partially because of all the roadcrossings, making it not seem like we were in the wilderness. And then there were the many dayhikers and a burned forest. The ups and downs were also tough on the feet so I was glad to make it to our lunchspot after 16,5 miles / 26 kilometers after about five hours of sweating. We took a proper long break and chugged some water. There was a mother with two of her sons, one of whom was autistic, having a break there too so we talked to them for a bit before they headed on.
I then hiked on first but Kristians of course caught up with me after about 45 minutes. We had 11 miles / 18 kilometers until the lake and it wasn’t going to be any easier than the first half of the day – only up and down. My hurting feet were not relieved by any views – only a roadcrossing after roadcrossing was the trail. And some powerlines. Just before finally reaching the lake I passed two older gentlemen and exchanged a couple of words – they said they were headed to the same place.
When I arrived at the lake Kristians instantly gave me the bad news: there were no campsites and the water tasted really bad, even after filtering. We checked the map and basically our only option was to hike 2 more miles – up and down a hill. But we had no choice. The older guys arrived just as we were about to head on but we got talking – turns out they were getting off trail early due to an injury. We chatted a bit and they asked if we needed any of their food as they were not going to need any anyway – I said I’d be happy for some vegan snacks and Kristians remembered that we needed gas. We got some trail mix, a pita bread, clif bars and a full gas canister – these guys were our heroes and trail angels that evening!
But then we headed out and sweated our way up the steep climb. Once we reached the top, however, we were awarded by huge amounts of berries so we spent quite some time munching on those. Then we quickly cruised downhill and soon enough reached the stream and the campsite – there were already two tents there. We set up camp and hoped that T-Bone would also arrive but it seemed that he had stopped earlier – what with his feet and all. But after we made camp, got water, washed and started dinner the 3-member family of the mum & two sons arrived. They debated for a bit but finally decided to camp by us – after all, the socializing part is what makes the PCT special.
So it had been a 30 mile/48km day instead of 28 miles and 1800 meters of ascent instead of 1600 and we were very tired. T-Bone didn’t catch up with us but we’d see him tomorrow – in Snoqualmie the latest. But for now it was time to get some rest…