Day 169: Across Katwalks, Around Lakes, and Aside Ridges
Wednesday, September 5, 2018 6:53 pm
Location: Campsite 2407.9 (2407.9 miles)

Today was a beautiful day for hiking, only a little cool out, with mostly clear skies. After a short detour to drop my cousin’s daughter off at school, my cousin brought CareFree and I back to Snoqualmie Pass so we could begin our next section to Skykomish.

Getting started a little after 10, we quickly ran into Caveman at the trailhead on the north side of I-90. A “most difficult” sign on a tree near the trailhead set expectations, and from there, we began a five mile uphill that started in a forest that gradually thinned as we gained altitude, until we climbed above the treeline.

After climbing up and over the ridge near Kendall Peak, we passed through the Kendall Katwalk, a short, narrow pathway blasted out of the steep cliffside. At its north end, we ran into a group of around eight or so very chatty day hikers, and we stopped to talk with them for about ten minutes or so. Somehow, the conversation got turned to politics, which I strongly prefer to avoid while on the trail. Though we had roughly the same political beliefs, I was quite happy when someone (who hadn’t been participating in that discussion) cut the conversation short by deciding the group needed to get moving.

Kendall Katwalk
Kendall KatwalkView of the Kendall Katwalk, from the north end facing south.

CareFree and I continued on, stopping for a break about a mile later at Ridge Lake, a tiny lake just below the ridge, and just past the 2400 mile marker. While we were there, another hiker passing through reported that a woman had fallen off the Kendall Katwalk not too long ago, and that search-and-rescure had been called. CareFree and I were concerned, and hoped it was not someone from the group that we had just been talking to, but the hiker didn’t have any further details.

CareFree at Ridge Lake
CareFree at Ridge Lake

For most of the afternoon, the trail remained above the treeline, and so while it was exposed, there were hours of great views. Almost like when the trail was in the desert, you could see where the trail was going miles ahead. The mountains themselves had a pretty striking character: not quite reminiscent of the Sierra, but rugged, beautiful, and impressive in a way that the Cascades hadn’t previously been.

View towards Joe Lake and Huckleberry Mountain.

After a half-hour break on the side of the trail, near a saddle of the ridge at the head of valley we’d been hiking around for several miles, we continued on, following the exposed trail above the treeline for an extended period going through a talus field. It was a hard couple of miles, though the views served to give us something to do other than complain about the hard terrain.

I recalled another hiker back in Oregon mentioning that the section out out of Snoqualmie Pass was a rough section, and it certainly seems like it’s started off that way. Eventually, though, the trail crossed over the ridge and dropped down, vegetation returned, and the trail got a little less rocky.

A view ahead. Tomorrow morning, the trail goes along the left side of the mountain in the middle.

We decided to stop at a pond, a short side-trail off the PCT. It took a little hunting around to find a suitable campsite that wasn’t already taken, and while it had a little more grass than I’d prefer, we had a great view of the water. With the sun setting, it started to get a bit cool, so we cooked dinner from inside my tent. While I don’t really like to cook from my tent or eat inside, lest my tent get coated with food smells, I’d much rather do that than sit outside on the ground in the cold and dark.