This is on the crest near Packwood Glacier and also the second highest point on the PCT in Washington... and one of the greatest panoramic views in the state! As you can see, I crossed the ridge during a bad storm so I guess that I'll just have to trust the guidebook.
From my journal (July 30, Day-96)..."This was most certainly a very difficult day terrain speaking, yet most rewarding in sheer beauty. The morning started with a heavy fog, but that soon lifted to a partly cloudy sky and a very chilly morning. Only a few miles out I got my first decent glance at Mt. Rainier which was inspiring. By early afternoon I was gaining a lot of elevation and soon passed Cispus Pass where everything from the rocky trail to the snow and alpine meadows reminded me of the Sierra's. Apparently the "easy" part of the Washington PCT ended here! The trail finally led up to the upper part of Paackwood Glacier where a cold wintery wind was blowing and visibility was probably only 75 feet due to heavy clouds. More than once I wondered and worried if I was even on the PCT as it led me so slowly several miles across the very steep, cold, and windy crest with steep cliffs on either side. It was very scarry due to the strong cloudy wind and such a rocky trail, but mainly the coldness concerned me. I was so glad to have packed most of my winter gear back in town because I was now wearing it all and it would most assuredly been dangerous without it. I was so happy to be back down on the trees and camping near Tieton Pass where the cold wind continues to blow. "
This is where the official PCT crosses the upper side of Packwood Glacier and I tried to find the trail in the storm to no avail, finally deciding to take the longer alternate "old PCT" route. The cold wind blew the clouds across the ridge with a vengance, but I just kept moving until I could finally descend into the security of the valley.
|Low fog continued the next morning and I was pleasantly surprised by four mountain goats when I came around a curve in the trail..|
And there it was, Mt. Rainier rising up above the valley fog like a scene from Star Trek on a foreign planet. One man paid the Russian's twenty million dollars for a week aboard the International Space Station earlier this year... and I got to see this for free!!!
Look just to the right of center along the horizon and you will see Mt. Rainier overlooking the PCT as it winds wide and long along the edge of the crest.
From northern Oregon I rarely stopped for anything during the day and I dried out my sleeping bag as I walked down the trail.
From my journal (July 31, Day-97)..."Without a doubt this has been the greatest day since entering Washington, and not just because I resupplied at White Pass... but it helped! Dew didn't fall during the night and all was very dry at wake up. My body finally felt well rested after my 43 mile day and the day after. Naturally, I was very excited since I was going to White Pass today, but the scenery to Highway 12 was spectacular in places such as when I rounded one ridge to have an unbelieveable view of on huge Mt. Rainier which was almost surreal appearing to be floating in a sea of clouds which filled the valleys below. Looking back at the long, jagged ridge which I climbed and crossing in the cold wind and clouds late yesterday afternoon also stuck up above the lower cloud layer. Then if this wasn't enough I rounded another ridge corner and surprised four mountain goats which initially jumped, but stopped long enough for a nice staring match, then they fled away
I met a section hiker named Eric who walked the last few miles to highway 12 with me as we talked some thick hiking conversation.
At the Kracker Barrel Store at White Pass I was in and out in under two hours with my food drop box then back on the trail northbound with a heavier pack but hiking a strong and steady pace with thoughts of Monument 78 only about 360 miles away! Most of the afternoon I crossed miles and miles of mosquitto infested lakes and ponds in a thick conifer forest until early evening when I climbed back up on the crest where I ran across several small herds of elk grazing in the green grassy meadows below. Then suddenly out pops the most magnificent close up view of Mt. Rainier yet standing so firm and solid above all other surrounding terrain. It was almost an overwhelming view. Shortly later I made camp under some tall fir trees at a trail junction. "
This is the Kracker Barrel store at White Pass and also where I picked up one of my food drop boxes. It was also a nice place to hang out for a while with a good hiker box.
|As I neared Chinook Pass the flower's were ablaze with color!||.|
From my journal (August 1, Day-98)..."As I write the light pinging of rain droplets have begun to fall on my tarp with metucked so snug inside. This was another very cool day and once again I was so glad to have some cold weather gear, mainly my ski mask and gloves. All day layers of clouds moved onto the crest, first very high then by late afternoon the clouds came in low as fog blowing in from the west as part of a pacific storm. As the clouds blew through the trees I felt so alive on a living, thriving planet and I wished that I could see a winter snow storm blowing. Anyhow, I set off on a beautiful morning trail just southwest of massive Mt. Rainier and followed the trail as Rainier came in and out of view all day as I hiked below, beside, then beyond this ancient volcano.
Chinook Pass was so ablaze with the full color of flowers and it was such a lively walk. The trail remained largely along the crest today as it wound in and out of gaps, passes, and saddles providing magnificent views of distant lakes down below in the valley's and Mt. Adam's back to the south. My right foot developed a new blister on the bottom which was very painful with every step, but not enough to not see the beauty of the day. "
And the color's just wouldn't stop coming at me!
Here's where the PCT bridge crosses the highway at Chinook Pass and also the entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park.