August 4, 2016
Riley Creek (mile 2236.6) to bushcamp (mile 2256.9)
Our total miles: 1850.6
We had a slow morning. Given that we “only” had to walk 20 miles, we didn’t feel rushed. We said goodbye to Custard and Julie and started down the trail around 8 am.
The grass and flowers were covered by a layer of dew. We walked slowly through the meadows, admiring the fields of lupine. It was very hard to keep a steady pace today. Both of us were in awe of the beauty and kept stopping to stare.
The glaciers on Mt Adams were prominent; the snow glistening in the sun.
As we hiked on we came upon a major wash and Lewis Creek. We have read that this could be a tricky crossing. We agree.
The water was murky and fording it would be tricky since we couldn’t see were to place our feet. We looked and found logs on which to cross.
Andy went first. He took his time on the slim logs, making sure he placed his feet just right, using his poles for better balance. Once across he looked for better options for Laurie but didn’t see any, so Laurie went for it. She crossed safely too and we continued on.
We passed meadows with ponds and meadows with meandering streams. We stopped to get water at one such stream and met a man who was backpacking with his 2 llamas. He carries a day pack and they carry the rest!
Laurie pet the llamas as she asked questions about their lifespan and how much land they require. As we stood there talking the llamas got inpatient and started stomping their feet and moaning.
As we parted ways Laurie started fantasizing about where she could live to raise llamas. This way she could bring her mom backpacking or even backpack herself well into her 80’s.
From here we walked away from Mt Adams and wandered back into the woods. We discovered wonderful patches of huckleberries and ate until our hearts and bellies were content.
After about 10 miles we reached Lava Spring. Clear and cold water came pouring out of a large pile of lava rocks.
We ate lunch here, swatting away flies and chatting with a SOBO hiker named Grateful Red.
We walked on through the woods, subtly climbing and descending. We discovered wild strawberries alongside the trail. They were tiny but oh so sweet!
We crossed a beautiful creek around 4:30. As Andy stepped across 2 frogs jumped out of his path. We admired and watched the frogs for 15 minutes. We got water for 10 miles (5 today and 5 tomorrow) and a dry camp. Laurie soaked her feet and rinsed her socks before leaving.
We passed a handful of SOBOs as the afternoon progressed. Some were friendly, others inquisitive – asking things like- “where is the best place to do a 50 miler?” and others passed with barely a smile.
We hiked the remaining 5 miles to camp with our head nets on. We passed many small ponds and could see the layer of mosquitoes skimming the top of each pond.
We gently climbed up to our campsite. The spots didn’t look very level and we had seen a spot on a ridge mentioned in one of the guide books. We opted to keep going another eight tenths of a mile in hopes of less mozzies and a better view.
In 0.8 miles we found a flat spot on the top of the hill. Again it was grassy and will be wet in the morning but it is nice to watch the evening light reflect off the trees.
The mosquitoes quickly found us and we grumbled at them as we set up the tent. Laurie crawled inside as Andy cooked. We ate dinner watching the 30 or so mosquitoes stare at us through the tent.
Of course we couldn’t actually see their eyes, if they even have them, but we had fun taunting them and blowing them off the mesh of the tent.
Today the trail was mellow. We appreciated the soft ground and gentle climbs. Most SOBO’s tell us the trail gets steep after Snoqualmie Pass but the views are amazing. We can’t wait!
Tonight we are grateful for tough feet and gradual trails.