After a night filled with noise from the deer hustling around our tent we finally got up. There was condensation in the tent and the surroundings were covered in the now familiar smoke. While Kristians went to get water for breakfast I picked some blueberries to top up the porridge. We finally hiked out at 9:20 and T-Bone had left just before us. We planned to hike 27 miles and he only 19, but we’d still get to have lunch together.
The day started with a little uphill and then continued downhill for miles. As we crested the ridge we got a half decent view of some snow-covered cliffs close by but nothing further than that – just smoke. Somewhere mid-downhill I spotted a huge deer right by the trail and tried to film it. The trail then descended more, leading me across many a river and by a big waterfall. The rocky alpine environment morphed into a green, lush, jungle-like forest and the trail flattened out for a bit.
After crossing a river where the bridge had been carried away (or been destroyed for some other reason) I entered a burned forest and started to climb up the next 800 meters of altitude. Switchback after switchback took me ever higher but the views just consisted of smoke and dull outlines of mountains. On my way I passed a forest ranger and some trail workers – they really were doing a good job!
After getting to the top the landscape opened up – it was alpine meadows and an exposed trail on the hillsides. I had a couple of miles to go until our lunch by a small lake & stream but it went like a breeze. The trail bent around a cliff and opened up to this lush green pasture – I saw Kristians sitting there and waiting. I sat down, took off my shoes to let my tired feet rest and proceeded to eat & drink. T-Bone also soon arrived and we enjoyed our “last” lunch together. It also turned out that T-Bone had taken a sidetrail at some point and was therefore behind us and not ahead, where he had started. Never trust a southbounder when asking for directions!
We now had 6 miles until Waptus River, where we’d get some water and say bye to T-Bone who was going to camp there. This section went pretty fast as it was mostly downhill and soon enough we heard the rumbling of the water and crossed the bridge. We talked for a bit and then said good bye and hugged.
Kristians and I planned to hike 6 more miles – it started out pretty flat but then started to gradually climb and got steeper as it went along. We ascended along the left riverbank of a cascading stream. It was still very smoky and humid so we were sweating profusely. Our feet were now hurting and our muscles sore from all the climbs so we were happy when the trail finally flattened out.
The last miles took us through the green jungle and across two rivers to Deep Lake. We saw a mother deer with two youngsters walking around in the evening mist. We set up camp by the outlet of the lake and had our dinner in the dark. It had been a tough day.
This morning was like a repetition: wake late, get water, pick blueberries, dry the tent, it’s smoky, have breakfast, hike out at 9:40. The day started with a long climb once again but I was feeling fresh & strong and thus kept up with Kristians without problems. Time flew fast and already we were at the top. We passed some dayhikers and then started the downhill, where Kristians was of course faster than me and thus went ahead. We had some views but nothing to really speak of – mostly just smoke.
I descended down to a meadow and lake and followed the hillside through green berry bushes, crossing a bunch of streams. I caught up with Kristians at a big creek crossing, where the water was cascading down a huge boulderfield and then split into multiple streams. After that we entered another pine forest and started ascending once again. We would be going gradually up for a while before reaching Deception Lakes, where we’d have lunch. That was after a total of 12 miles.
After crossing the lake outlet we crested a small hill and suddenly saw the beautiful, clear blue alpine lakes. We found a spot between two lakes, on a small grassy patch by the shore, and set our packs down. We were hot and sweaty and decided that this was a place we needed to swim at – it was very cold but totally worth it! We rested, enjoyed the smoky sun and ate for a while before finally heading out at 15 again.
We had 12 more miles to go – it was a very steep section up and over a mountain pass followed by a long downhill over boulderfields, onto a beautiful meadow, over springs and into the green forest. It was very hot and I was sweating profusely. Ibwas now on a long gradual downhill, passed a small lake and went up the last steep hill to reach our campsite at Mig Lake.
I helped Kristians set up the tent after which we got water, washed ourselves and had dinner. The next day we planned to wake up early to get to Stevens Pass and then into town for resupply, so we wanted to go to sleep as soon as we could. During dinner we discussed the end coming nearer, what we’d gained and learned from this trip and what would happen next. Facing reality and going back to the civilization without a job & home will be tough but exciting.
After waking up at 6:10 we packed up, picked some blueberries for the porridge and ate breakfast. We hiked out at 7:40 and only had 7 miles until Stevens Pass. Once again I felt fresh & strong so the first big uphill we just powerwalked (well, the backpacks were lighter too). There was morning dew on all the plants so my shoes were actually pretty wet.
It got pretty steep in the end but soon we got to the ridge and started to descend on the other side. Through the haze we could make out a lake down in the valley but our trail turned in the other direction. We crossed some streams, passed some other hikers and had good energy. After passing some dirt roads we could already see the highway in the valley and then walked underneath some chairlifts. Then it was time for the last climb of the day – gradually all the way up to the top of the ski resort.
The last two downhill miles through the forest and ski slopes slowly took us to the Stevens Pass ski resort buildings. As soon as we arrived we saw Agamemnon! It was great to bump into him again but he was also the bearer of bad news – he told us that the last 100 miles of the PCT had been closed due to a forest fire and thus we couldn’t hike up to the monument. He also said he was going to quit the trail and come finish it some other time. We were pretty bummed so for the rest of the day we discussed what to do.
We hitched a ride to Leavenworth (apparently a Bavarian-style city) with a Seattle fireman and walked around a bit. All the hills around town were covered by smoke, only their outlines were visible. We went and got lunch at a health food cafe and realized (thanks to Instagram) that Coconut and Tomb Raider were also in town. They had taken a zero the day before and decided to take one more – with the bad newd and smoke it wasn’t exactly exciting to hike on. We got two rooms in a motel and after Kristians and I washed we got a call from T-Bone: he was getting to town soon too! Our whole tramily would be together once again (well, except for Sensei).
We then went to Safeway to resupply and when T-Bone arrived he met us there. After the shopping we got back to the motel, T-Bone took a shower too and then headed out to München Haus for some Bavarian wurst and sauerkraut! Coconut and Tomb Raider decided to chill out at the motel instead. So all in all it was an interesting evening in the Bavarian capital of the US.