August 8, 2016
Kracker Barrel Store (mile 2292.4) to Dewey Lake (mile 2318.3)
Miles: 26.5 (25.9 PCT miles + .6 along Hwy 12 to trailhead)
Our total miles: 1912
We had planned on leaving at 7 am but then Laurie found the Olympics on TV and we stayed up until midnight last night.
We were enamored by the swimming and gymnastics and couldn’t bring ourselves to go to bed.
The 6 hours of sleep that we did get was heavenly. The bed was super comfy and we could hear the rain outside. Neither of us could open our eyes when the alarm went off. So we decided to leave at 8, and then 9.
Our only hurry was to catch Nemo who had left the night before. But we both know he is a faster hiker than us so unless he slows down or takes an on trail zero we may not see him again.
It was raining on and off and a low layer of fog covered the tops of the trees. This kind of weather does not encourage hiking. We would have preferred to stay cozy in bed with hot tea but we had already postponed our departure one day and had miles to cover and mountains to see.
We went to say goodbye to a Toaster and Smudge before walking to the Kracker Barrel store for toothpaste.
Once in the store we fell into the vortex. We exchanged stories from the Knife’s Edge and caught up with So Far and So Good, a couple we last saw in Northern California. Before we knew it it was 8:45. We really had to get going.
But then Laurie discovered granola and banana chips in the hiker box while Andy took some olive oil from another hiker.
There was decent looking food in the hiker box; at some point we will remember to look there first before buying food for dinner. (There was toothpaste in there too.)
At 9 we forced ourselves to leave the warmth of the store. We walked down the highway wearing our raincoats and pack covers, Andy quickly devouring two thirds of a bag of granola.
The trail was a wet and sandy mess. Plus this seems to be a very popular horse trail because there was horse poop everywhere!
We hiked through the dripping, foggy forest, carefully placing our feet to not slip. It was quiet and super peaceful. For the first 2 hours we saw no one.
After a hour of mist it started to rain. We put on our rainpants and placed latex gloves on top of our glove liners to make them water proof.
We walked through a green and foggy enchanted forest. Periodically sunlight would illuminate lichen hanging off the trees and it glowed bright green. We listened to birds chirping and other than wet and soggy feet we were dry and comfortable. Our bodies felt great.
We met about 5 SOBOs today. We chatted with each group before continuing on. Because of the rain and surrounding sogginess we never took an actual break. We ate lunch on the move and stopped to put on and take off layers and go to the bathroom, but we never sat down.
The trail was pretty mellow most of the day. Initially we climbed and then the trail flattened as we cruised past many lakes. Unfortunately we only caught glimpses of them through the fog.
We walked past green and yellow meadows with meandering streams, then descended to Bumping River which had no bridge.
We crossed on slippery moss coated rocks. Andy slipped causing him to step into the water. Since his right foot was now soaked, he just walked through the rest of the creek. Laurie, who learned from Andy’s mistake, choose a different path and managed to keep her feet dry.
Well, dry may not be the right word. Our feet were already soaked from the rain and wet bushes so she essentially avoided getting her pants wet.
From here we climbed up to the boundary of Mt Rainier National Park. It was a 6 mile climb and we gained 2200 feet. We were mostly in the trees which was nice since it poured. We waited out the heavy rain under the protection of one of the many evergreens.
Towards the top of the climb the trail emerged out of the forest. We traversed along the base of rocky cliffs and walked through wet meadows.
The flowers looked particularly vibrant. Reds, yellows, purples and whites all mixed together amongst a sea of green and gray.
We stopped periodically to watch the fog roll in and out of the green mountains. We joked that the beauty was being obstructed by the beast (fog). But really, it was all beautiful – fog included.
As evening approached there was some clearing of the clouds and even a few patches of blue sky.
We got to Dewey Lake around 8 pm and started to look for campsites in the trees for protection from the rain and potential thunder and lightening.
The first one was taken, second one not big enough and by the third it had started to drizzle. We finally decided on a spot around 8:30pm and set up home.
Laurie dug a moat around the tent to prevent the swimming pool effect we experienced in Oregon.
By time time we got to camp we had been on our feet for 11.5 hours. Surprisingly though, nothing hurt. We suppose the two 16 mile days followed by a very short nero were restful.
We ate dinner and quickly fell asleep. Tonight is our first night on new sleeping pads and we hope they are comfy!
Tonight we are grateful for minimal rain when setting up our tent and dry sleeping bags.