Wednesday, August 29, 2018 – 10.70 miles
I woke up to the reek of smoke. Rays of the rising sun formed distinct lines in the haze and thick, bruise-coloured streaks clung to the horizon, shielding the base of Mt. Rainer as I walked along a section of trail with views of the mountain. I don’t expect to ever receive a clear view of Rainier.
Shortly after starting out, I climbed down to Kenny Spring. There wasn’t as much elevation loss as I was expecting, but the only water was stagnant puddles. Skip. The next water source was three tarns in a meadow. One had water, but also horse droppings. Skip. When the path started climbing, I noticed a user path up to a potential basin that I thought might have a pond. I checked the map and there was no indication of water there, but I was curious, so I climbed up anyway. Snow patch but no running water.
The above activities were an attempt to avoid collecting water from a lake. After the user trail I figured that I was doomed to the lake, but just in case, I asked a SOBO hiker who I took a break with whether there was any running water before Delate Creek. She replied in the negative. She had a good personality but terrible sense of direction – she left before me and started walking back down the mountain in the direction she had come from. I stopped her and told her that she was going the wrong way, but she was certain that she had been heading downhill. Eventually I gave up and said that she should do what she thought was right, then she was convinced and went in the proper direction. She was wrong about the water too, since a few miles after our meeting I reached a small stream. It was a pleasant surprise and I took a long break to filter water and cook potatoes.
Unusually, the smoke improved in the afternoon and I received incredible views down to Spectacle Lake.
The views remained lovely throughout a long descent into the valley.
Just beyond Delate Creek was a burn area with flowers blooming between the trees.
I reached an established campsite around the time I wanted to make camp but it was windy, not particularly scenic and had a critter hole. Yogi’s book mentions ‘aggressive and unafraid’ mice in this PCT section. I didn’t see a mouse, but as I lifted my pack to leave I heard a rustling noise and turned to see an extremely sketchy deer that retreated one metre and began lurking in the bushes. Do Washington deer steal your stuff? Maybe this one moved here from Marble Valley. We’ll probably never know.
I ended up camping in a stealth spot a short while later. It was one of those situations in which the spot looks decent but as soon as you begin clearing and defining the boundaries of the space, it becomes evident that the space is really too small for your tent. I made do anyway and will have another tilted night. An owl is hooting nearby.