I lay wide awake in our tent, staring up at the dark grey sky and black hills that frame our scenic camp. I guessed it about 2:30am, I look at my phone, 5:29am! Really? It was so dark still. We all started to get ready none the less. When we finished packing up it’s still too dark for walking so we make coffee and eat breakfast.
Nestled in the west facing side of Glacier Peak and covered in smoke was our problem. The sky slowly turned this beigey-brown colour which remained for the rest of the day, and the air was thick with the scent of burnt pine ashes. We began what was a slow 3 miles up and down, over many fallen trees, one crash which was so epic we even lost the pct completely and found ourselves walking straight up a steep meadow to get back to it.
The mornings walk was beautiful and surreal with all the smoke. Whilst it is very disappointing to have these views obscured in the smog, it is a completely different experience in itself. We reach the top of the three mile climb at a high saddle and walk across an exposed ridge and down into a steep glacial valley. As we descend we are admiring the veins running through the rocks when we notice the firey pink sun reflecting off a glacier blue lake. This is a profound phenomenon that could have only happened in this set of specific circumstances and at this very time of day.
The walk down to Mica Lake was a pleasure. We passed many cute marmots with big red coats on with white collars. They are huge up here and they have so much attitude. Mica Lake is stunning with still deep blue reflecting mesmerising grey rock fields.
We then take a steep descent to Milk Creek, over 3000ft of elevation lost in about 50 switch backs. This valley is too steep, the river has been washed out and there are dead trees everywhere. We fill up our water and begin the next climb, nearly 3000ft back out of the valley. It feels like over the last three days we have climbed up to the base of Glacier Peak 3 times. Mushy counts 42 switchbacks on this climb up.
The top of the ridge is instantly beautiful, we pass in and out of meadows until we get to another large glacial valley where we have lunch. It’s 2pm and we are all exhausted.
The rest of the afternoon is spent walking down the Vista Creek Valley, another 3000ft descent. I’m glad Washiongton is a challenge, ending the pct with a bang, plus our leg muscles have definitely reached a new level. However, we all feel as though our bodies are needing a proper break. We have sore knees from all the climbing, get strange muscle spasms, Mushy now needs to eat more food than he can carry because of the calories being burnt instantaneously and most importantly we are all craving town food more than ever, its excruciating!