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[pct-l] Stevens to Snoqualmie

I just finished the section between Stevens Pass and Snoqualmie Pass
yesterday and was mightily impressed with the scenery out of Snoqualmie. 
The first day out of Stevens Pass was spent bumping over passes which were
actually ridge tops, and droping down into lake basins, or finally, the
Desolation Creek Basin, with Mts. Daniel and Hinman across the way.  It was
over 80 degrees all four days and the first day was spent remembering DRINK

I dropped down below Desolation Lakes for the night.  I don't think it below
60 degrees.  No mosquitos so my feet sticking out of the 20 degree bag were
no problem.  I was on the trail at dawn, now 6 AM, traversing to Desolation
Pass, and over to the lower shoulders of Mt. Daniel.  The traverse was
actually an up and down hike eventually rising to Cathedral Pass and good
views across Hyas Lake to Granite and Trico Mountains.  Eight years ago I'd
hiked to the "mini-Enchantments" of the Robin Lakes area at 6000' just under
the ridge top and so remembered seeing the PCT across the way.  

Up and over Cathedral Pass and down into the Deep Lake Basin for a bath and
lunch.  A very pretty meadow, of which there weren't many on this section of
trail.  Mostly huckleberry and gorse.  Then there was the long boring hike
in forrest with no views down to the Waptus River where I spent the night.
The sunset on Bears Breast Mountain was spectacular, as was the sunrise next
morning.  It was a slab of granite 3000' long.  

The next morning I put it in low gear and jammed up the south ridge above
Waputs Lake. there were four downed trees making the trail impassable for
horses.  Darn!  I'd hiked the section from White Pass to snoqualmie Pass two
weeks ago and the first 30 miles of the trip stunk of horse urine and the
road apples could be counted in thousands.  As there were lots of elk I
wondered if they weren't stinking up the trail, and maybe they did.  But
their poop wasn't nearly in equal amounts to the horses.  

At the top of the ridge I switchabacked around a couple minor ridges and
came to the top of Escondido Ridge.  This is the site of the Waptus Fire of
? years ago, so there is relatively no view obstruction.  I was staggered.
The present of Summit Chif, Lemah, and Chikamin Peaks, and the three queens
and the ridges inbetween was absolutely jaw dropping.  This was my backyard
and I had never imagined.  I stumbled down the ridge slowly, marvelling, to
Lemah Creek and forest again.  The trail follows the creek until heading up
toward Spectacle Lake and the Park Lakes Basin.  

This was the second 2000' climb of the day, and while I found my legs were
still strong, my feet were screaming with agony - plantar fascitis and
pounding of the balls (of my feet!)  But as my altimeter watch recorded the
elevation gain, my heart soared as views got better and better.  I got to
the top of the pass above Spectacle Lake and Park Lakes Basin and decided to
camp up there.  It was still nearly 80 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, and
an hour before sunset.  I watched the sun set on the aforementioned peaks
and thought to myself how lucky I was to be alive and well and where I was.  

The next morning I head through the Park Lakes basin and up to the gap
heralding entry into the Gold Creek Basin.  I'd thought, "this will be an
easy 16 miles" not having looked at the topo map closely.  Again, I didn't
mind the ups, but they were all followed by downs.  My feet let me know
early in the day they didn't like what was going on.  Mmore ibuprofen...

The up and down traverse around the basin was awesome.  There is one
unique vista, where you can see both Glacier Peak in one direction and
Rainier in the other that I spent time marvelling at.  On the White Pass
to Snoqualmie hike I'd been in clouds anytime I was at ridgetop and so
didn't see Rainier once, the supposed high point of that section, watching 
it as you go by it.  There it was, in all its glory.  

At ridge lake Labor Day dayhikers began showing up, and it no longer felt
like the PCT.  I'd met only 12 parties jprior to the lake.  I met that many
in an hour.  One Japanese woman sat huddled in a boulder field, alone, her
husband other couple having gone to vista point at the top of the ridge.
She asked if I'd seen her people and then said how afraid she was.  I said
that bears and lions were unlikely to bother her.  She looked at me with a
set determination on her face and asked, "How do you know?"

I stumbled over that one for a bit, finally realizing no answer was
adequate, or it would be too long and said, "I don't," which made her "Hah"
in a knowing way kind of unkind.  I wished her well and continued to abuse
my feet as I hiked down the swithbacks.  

I made it to the pass, and the greyuhound whisked me to Seattle, and home.
Escondido Ridge is definitely a destination resort...

Jeffrey Olson
Seattle Washington.  

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