A ten mile long climb aside, today started off nice enough. But the first rain (and lightning!) in almost two weeks was not as much fun, and my tent once again failed to perform its key function of keeping the rain out.
The warm temperature from last night, not surprisingly, didn’t last, but it was still warmer overnight than it had been recently, and it wasn’t too cold out this morning. While we didn’t start hiking much earlier than we have been (around 8 am), it didn’t take us much more than an hour to get started from when we got up.
Leaving our campsite near the Waptus River, CareFree and I continued through the forest, heading eastward along the north side of Waptus Lake, though far enough away that we never actually saw the lake through the trees. After a few miles, the trail turned north, away from the lake and up a valley, beginning a long climb. The morning was fairly uneventful; the trail was mostly forested, though as we headed uphill, the forest gradually thinned.
Around seven miles in, we stopped for a break alongside the trail near Deep Lake, in a flat area shaded by trees. Somewhat hungrier than usual, but also with a surplus of snacks I was getting tired of carrying, I ate two breaks worth of snacks.
Deep Lake’s outlet stream was the next “obstacle” on our way. While not very deep, the stream was probably about thirty feet wide. Fortunately, the trail maintainers put stepping stones in the water, and it was easy to cross and keep our feet dry.
A few more miles of switchbacks took us to a shoulder below Cathedral Rock, moving us from one mountain valley to the next. A sign warned of a possible difficult creek crossing a few miles ahead. An alternate route, several miles longer, would allow us to avoid the crossing, but since we’re now late in the season, there didn’t seem to be any compelling reason to go far out of our way to avoid a water crossing. We continued on, taking in more views before we descended again into the forest. At one point, we thought we could see Mount Baker, the northernmost of the Cascade volcanoes in Washington, though I’m not confident of that; I think it’s still too far away to see.
Around 2:30, we stopped for a break at that “difficult” crossing. It was a little tricky, but not really that bad. Earlier in the season with more water, though, I could see it being very difficult. Clouds were starting to roll in, and, being slightly worried of the possibility of rain later on, and knowing where the upcoming water and campsites were, I decided to turn the snack break turned into a dinner break. This took longer than I wanted, though; there wasn’t much in the way of tree cover near the creek, so all I had to hang my water filter from was a fallen log that was only a few feet off the ground, so filtering took much longer than I would have liked.
We continued on after dinner, mostly under tree cover, and again heading back uphill. The clouds continued to blow in, and eventually completely covered the sky, bringing with them a light rain.
Around 6:40, we reached a campsite near the Deception Lakes, and tried to decide what to do. We didn’t really want to hike further, but while hiking in the rain isn’t terribly much fun, stopping and setting up a tent while it’s raining isn’t great either. So, one option was to go another 2.4 miles to the next campsite on the other side of the mountain; we’d get there around sunset, but since we already had dinner, all we’d have to do is set up the tent and then hide inside. But, according to the guide, it was a small campsite, and we’d run the risk of getting there and wind up having to go further to actually get a campsite.
But, with it raining, we almost were about to continue on, when the weather made our decision for us. As we were discussing, the rain intensified, and then the rumble of thunder filled the air. That ended the discussion; we weren’t going anywhere, not with thunder and lightning. Fortunately, the rain briefly slowed for a few minutes while I was setting my tent up, but the nice thing about having a one-piece tent is that the inside isn’t going to get wet while setting it up if you’re at least a little bit careful.
With our packs outside the tent, though, there was no way they were going to stay dry, since neither of them fit cleanly within the vestibules. CareFree’s tent’s rainfly came to the rescue. With it not otherwise in use, we wrapped our packs inside her rainfly, so even though they stuck out from the vestibule, they were covered and didn’t have to sit directly on the ground.
We made it just under 19 miles today, which was nice, but that still leaves us about 18 to go to get to Stevens Pass tomorrow. So, we decided to try and get to sleep early so we could get up at 5 am tomorrow to get an early start on getting into town.
We were interrupted, though, by water dripping on the foot of our sleeping bags. The light rain still falling was enough to find its way into some hole around the attachment mount for the guyline for the back wall of the tent. I grudgingly went outside to put sealing tape around the mount, though with the tent damp from the rain that had already fallen, I have my doubts that the tape is going to hold, and I’ll probably have to re-seal it when my tent is dry, but at least for now, it seems to be doing the trick. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do that in Skykomish tomorrow. At least, though, roof didn’t seem to be leaking; the the tape I put over the roof after the last time it rained seemed to be working.