Day 162: A Steep Detour Back to the Trail
Wednesday, August 29, 2018 5:45 pm
Location: Pipe Lake (2302.0 miles)

I took my time making my way out of town today. Between getting up late, breakfast at the coffee shop across the street from the hotel, and repacking my pack, I wasn’t done and out of my room until 11 am — checkout time.

While I was packing, I took the opportunity to call one of my cousins, who lives in Auburn, about an hour west of Snoqualmie Pass. We’d been in contact since Cascade Locks with plans for her to pick me up at the pass when I got there, but now, we confirmed the date. I haven’t seen her in a while — and I’ve never visited her since she moved to Auburn — so this’ll be a nice opportunity to catch up.

Sadly, while repacking my pack, I noticed that my tent bag, which I got brand new in Cascade Locks only a week and a half ago, already has a small hole in it! While it’s a thinner material than my tent, it seems pretty clear to me that cuben fiber is a poor material for this purpose, and I suspect that my next tent is quite likely not going to come from Zpacks.

I returned to the post office and sent my bounce box on to Skykomish, about 170 miles ahead, with a few small items added. It’s not a significant weight savings, but why carry more than I need?

While at the post office, I ran into Mamma G, who agreed to give me a ride back to the detour trailhead since it’d be harder to get back there instead of hitching to White Pass. (Most hikers would be going back to White Pass, rather than follow the rest of the detour to maintain a continuous footpath, and getting back to that trailhead would ideally need a driver familiar with where the trailhead is so they don’t overshoot it.) Since it was now late into the morning, she offered to pick me up after I got lunch.

I returned to the pizza place I got dinner at yesterday, and got a medium-sized pizza (instead of a small), and nearly at the whole thing. When I was done, I gave Mamma G a call, and she gave me a ride back to the trail. I also got an updated weather forecast, calling for a chance of rain over the next few days. Hopefully it won’t be too bad, but it’s supposed to be dry tonight.

We got back to the trailhead around 1:30, and I resumed hiking the fire detour, taking the Sand Lake Trail #60 up the mountain. This was one of the steepest — if not the steepest — trails I’ve been on on my PCT hike, and it was slow going, since I had a weeks worth of food to Snoqualmie Pass. (I certainly wouldn’t blame anyone who opted to skip that part of the detour and instead restart hiking from White Pass, breaking a continuous footpath; it was far steeper than the PCT would have been.) Though the trail was well defined, it was also clearly not used frequently, with small trees and plants growing in the tread, and the debris on the trail showed few signs of being crushed by significant hiker activity. After the trail crossed a dirt road, though, the trail became more visibly worn.

The steep climb leveled out into a burn area on a plateau, and I was able to get another great view of Mount Rainier before the detour re-entered the forest.

Mount Rainier
Mount Rainier

A little before 4, the detour returned me to the PCT, near Sand Lake. While there was plenty of sand, there was also a small flock of ducks swimming around the lake. Shortly before, the detour passed by a quite dilapidated shelter. While it’d be still functional as an emergency shelter, I wouldn’t want to use it if I didn’t otherwise need to.

Sand Lake
Sand Lake

The trail also passed 2300 miles today; the miles are quickly running out; there’s only 350 miles left until I reach the terminus and the Canadian border!

2300 Miles!
2300 Miles!

Mostly because of the steep climb from the highway, I stopped around 5:45, after only about seven miles, at Pipe Lake. Since it was early, I took the opportunity to add a strip of tent repair tape I got from Zpacks at Trail Days along the top ridge of my tent. It was a bit cool and windy out which complicated the process a bit, but hopefully, this will patch the ridge leak, and I won’t have to worry about that anymore.

Pipe Lake
Pipe Lake

Being cool and windy, I again cooked my dinner from my tent, and realized then that I forgot to get rid of my empty fuel can while in Packwood, so I’ll have to carry that dead weight through to Snoqualmie Pass.

Between breakfast at the coffee shop, and having most of a pizza for lunch, I almost felt like I ate too much today once I finished my dinner. That’s pretty rare on the trail, though it’s no less uncomfortable on trail than off.

The winds eventually died down before bedtime, though it was still cool out.

Tomorrow: Now out of town, a regular-length day on the trail.