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Rose: gorgeous views near the end of the day, Cispus Basin Thorn: the decision not to press above tree line for camp, missing a gorgeous sunset Bud: the Knife’s Edge tomorrow
A day that made up for the tedium of yesterday, if not as splendid as the day before it on Adams. The forest gradually openned up. As Beans sad within the first hour of the day, “That pond is more interesting than all of yesterday.” (It wasn’t even that good of a pond)
The trail wound up until we were ascending and traversing subalpine hillside meadows broken by trees with a glorious view of Mt Adam’s to the south. The only thing to spoil the view is a heavy haze brought on by the week’s heat wave (and the smog you can see looking west toward the I-5 corridor). Today or tomorrow should be the last day of the heat wave though. In truth, it hasn’t been too bad as long as you stay in the shade. You could definitely feel the heat on the southernly ascent. I started playing the game of pause-in-the-tree-shade and hustle-to-the-next-shady-patch.
We lunched on a small ledge just below the trail. No other level ground could be found. Because there was no cheese at the Trout Lake store, our tuna wraps are sadly simple: just tuna, Mayo, and the last of our crumpled chips for some textual interest. I finished my chips today, so tomorrow will be a very flat wrap. It doesn’t help that we stretch our tuna between two wraps so that we can get the extra calories of an additional tortilla, making the wraps more tortilla than filling at this point.
Beans showed me how to eat around the core of a carrot, which I had never done. One of our favorite things to pack out are carrots. I love having some fresh crunch deep in the backcountry. Unfortunately, the store also did not have apples. 😢 Our carrots were provided by David Winterling when he picked us up from FS23 and drove us into Trout Lake. What a sweetheart. We asked he bring us carrots, and instead of grabbing an easy bag of baby carrots, he must have peeled and chopped a pound of big carrots for us. The big carrots are holding up much better than the slimy little baby carrots do. We usually try to finish off the baby carrots three-ish days into the backcountry; the sliminess makes me nervous. The big carrots lack the slime and have maintained such a good crunch.
Mid afternoon, we breaked to gather water from a lake. We were hot from the climb and the heat wave. We had a problem: the lake was entirely too swimmable. We quickly stripped down and jumped in the lake (after gathering our water). We dove down, floated on our backs, and splashed around. After 5–10 minutes, a man appeared on the far shore to gather water and also enjoy the water. We sat with bated breath. We couldn’t leave the water now without being exposed so we waited. After another 5–10 minutes, we decided it was time. The man was paying his own mind, so we swam to where we staged our shoes and scampered out to dry in the sun.
We rounded the horn on the ascent, up and over a lesser pass into the high meadow of another drainage, and gained the steeper traverse to Cispus Pass, the highest point of the Washington PCT. No view of Adams from the pass, but a pretty glacial drainage nonetheless. While we rested at the top (and Beans sent a text to her mom), Ash and Blue joined us! I knew they weren’t far behind, because Semi had texted me just out of Trout Lake. We talked a little at the top and as we descended into Cispus Basin. We parted as they got water. I had hoped we would camp together for some more catching up, but they passed by our chosen campsite in the evening. They wake up very early and are still doing 20–23 miles per day, so I don’t think I’ll see them again sadly.
Part of me wishes we were pushing more miles through this. The elevations look mighty tough in our last couple weeks on trail, so now is when we could hammer out some miles, but I have made plans with friends based on a 15 miles per day itinerary, so I confess that we have loitered the last couple of days, yesterday with the tedium not motivating us to hike farther and today to luxuriate in the views, tomorrow will continue the luxuriation while on the Knife’s Edge. By only doing 15 tomorrow, that will leave only five to do on Saturday morning to get to White Pass. We could easily have pushed a couple more miles tonight and then tomorrow we could have pushed into White Pass for the night, but again, the itinerary. Again, I am slightly sad to not be hiking without an agenda. I liked the freedom of hiking and seeing where and when I got to places in a week. I will enjoy returning to the freedom north of Snoqualmie. Ofcourse, it’s obviously worth it to me to sacrifice this small freedom to see my good friends along the trail.
I am slightly miffed that we didn’t press on for another 1–1.5 miles to the next camp. I knew the next camp was in the alpine, and with the good weather, it would make a fine camp. Our camp for the night is tucked into a copse of trees close to tree line. By walking to one of the tent sites, I could see the pinky hues of the sunset on Mt Adams. I imagine the pinks would also have been mirrored on Mt Rainier to the north. Through the trees I could see the orange haze on the western horizon. It would have been a glorious sunset to have witnessed from up high, lessened in clarity but enhanced in color by the haze. If there’s one regret I have of this trail, it’s that I’ve not had nearly enough glorious campsites with gorgeous sunsets (since the desert). I must change this fortune before it’s too late.