Friday, August 17, 2018 – 16.50 miles
Today was frustrating. I woke up, began walking, encountered a ledge and saw a view of blue sky and Mt. Adams! The visibility had cleared for the first time in nine days, but who’s counting. Grey streaks of haze were hanging ominously in the distance, but I hoped they were retreating rather than approaching.
Five minutes later, the trail plunged back into forest. I started considering whether I could reach the Knife’s Edge, which eTrails describes as one of the most dramatic and scenic sections of the PCT, by the end of the day. An hour later, I just wanted to see any view at all as the trail continued through forest. And continued. For ten miles. By the time it finally emerged, the haze was back.
Putting aside how frustrating the tease of clear skies was, I did see a handful of interesting things in the forest. A plant that I think of as ‘mosquito plant’ because I first saw it in the Sky Lakes Wilderness was in fruit. There were huge mushrooms with tops like pancakes. As I unknowingly approached a sea of huckleberry plants, I surprised a bear in a grassy clearing. It crashed away into the forest so quickly that I only saw its rump, but that looked fat and healthy. I felt bad for scaring it, maybe because I’m not used to bears being scared. I’m always making deer crash away into the forest but I don’t feel bad about that.
When the trail finally left the forest, it was to pass the Goat Rocks, which were close enough or otherwise prudently located to be free of haze. The Cispus Basin (the resemblance to Sisyphus is appropriate for today) was haze-free too, so there were views to end the day.
I also saw the first marmot of my trip! It was more timid than the delightfully fat, complacent marmots that I’m used to from the Canadian mountain parks. I radiated love towards it anyway, of course. It seemed annoyed and vanished into a crevice.
I made camp at a beautiful established site on a ledge with views of the basin and Mount Adams. The basin is busy with campers but none are close enough for me to hear.