August 18, 2016
Lake Sally Ann (mile 2491.1) to Bushcamp (mile 2516.9)
Our total miles: 2110.6
Andy woke up with a startle at 2:22am. He smelled something funny. He yanked out his earplugs and grabbed his headlight looking around the tent for a creature.
He saw nothing.
The smell was probably one or both of us farting in our sleep. Ha!
A diet of primarily dehydrated food and bars lends itself to lots of gas.
He went back to sleep laughing.
Today we managed to get going at 5:15. After a water and bathroom run we stepped onto the trail at 6:30am.
We watched the sun poke over the horizon as we stretched. We hope that even 5 minutes of stretching will help our bodies.
It was already hot when we hit the trail. There was no wind and we could smell smoke. We had no reception and didn’t see any signs of a fire so we kept walking.
We walked up and down many rolling green hills. The climbs were short and relatively gentle. The sun was hot and intense but it nicely lit up the surrounding green mountains.
We walked through grassy slopes with corn lilies and white wildflowers. The views continued to get better and better as the morning progressed.
It looked and felt like we were walking through the Swiss Alps. All we were missing were the cow bells and the voice of Julie Andrews singing.
We saw a lot of people today. Similar to the Goat Rocks, this area is a destination. Near White Pass we gazed down on a little tent city. People set up basecamps and explored from there. Someday we may be two of those people. This area is absolutely spectacular in good weather.
We walked through hillsides of lupine and paintbrush until we got to Red Pass.
Here we stopped for a snack and shoes off break before a long 3200 foot descent. The 270 degrees views were amazing, but the flies, not so much.
Some guy we passed in southern Washington asked if we knew the secret to Washington. We both shrugged.
“Just keep walking.”
We weren’t sure what he meant but now we do. The biting flies are almost as bothersome as the mozzies. But nothing has been as bad as what we experienced in Oregon. So we are still happy!
We crossed over Red Pass and dropped into a beautiful basin. We meandered down the alpine tundra taking in the views.
We continued to drop down into the trees, crossing a number of creeks – some with logs, some with rocks and others with bridges. The trail just kept going down. Both of our knees were sore when we finally bottomed out at Kennedy Creek.
We crossed a raging glacier melt river on a broken bridge. Andy remembered seeing pictures of said bridge in blogs over the years. It was a fun challenge for both of us.
We made it across easily and climbed and climbed and climbed.
The trail initially went straight up – so steep in fact that our calves burned. It eventually mellowed out. Just in time too because Andy’s Achilles were beginning to burn.
We climbed switchbacks and wound our way around hillsides. We walked up Kennedy Ridge, a 4 foot wide spine with major drop offs on either side into deep canyons and rivers. Thankfully there were trees and other types of foliage around us so the drop off wasn’t as obvious or scary.
Around 6 o’clock we reached the top of the climb. We took a short break and enjoyed our daily chunk of cheese with fantastic views of Glacier Peak.
From here we descended down to Fire Creek. The trail lead us through swamps. Stagnant water lay on either side of the trail and we carefully stepped to avoid getting wet shoes.
But the mud was unavoidable.
When we reached Fire Creek three people were already set up. We chatted with them and went back and forth trying to decide whether to push to Mica Lake, go partway there, or stay.
Mica Lake was only 3 miles away but by this time it was 7:15pm. We prefer to get to camp sometime between 7 or 8. This allows us time to eat, digest and get ready for bed before 9. If we get to camp later we stay up later, energized by food.
Guthook (one of the apps that gives info about the trail) mentioned a tentsite 0.8 miles up the hill. We decided to shoot for that.
But we couldn’t find anything flat that slightly resembled a tentsite.
So we kept walking.
Andy’s left knee had been sore all day and was making him grouchy. He was tired and willing to keep going but was tired. He later said “that was the first I felt like the trail might break me. This section is really kicking my ass!”
Many thru hikers talk about pushing themselves past exhaustion. We have never done this and don’t plan to. We are here to enjoy ourselves.
For Andy, this evening had moments of pain and lack of enjoyment. But once we got to a saddle his pain dissipated as he was distracted by views. Glacier Peak shone in the evening light.
We walked on, stopping periodically to soak in the views.
The trail took us out of the trees and we walked along a ridge staring at the mountains around us. This may have been our favorite evening on the trail.
We found a flat spot which probably used to house snow or at least was a drainage route. But given the clear skies and warm temperatures, we were not concerned about getting wet.
We set up our tent and enjoyed dinner sitting on the nearby rocks. The rocks were warm, almost like sitting in a car with a seat warmer, and felt good against the increasingly cool and windy air.
Laurie was giddy. She ran around taking photos and oohing and aweing. We are not sure if this sudden burst of energy was from excitement or a sugar high from the sour jelly bellies she ate while hiking uphill.
We watched as the sun dove behind the horizon. The golden blanket of light faded off the mountains behind us but the orange and pink sky remained.
The fire that we smelled yesterday is more obvious tonight. We can see the smoke coming from the east. It is very unfortunate but makes for a more dramatic sunset.
We fell asleep to the whapping of the wind against our tent.
Tonight we are grateful for stunning panoramic views and campsites not listed on any maps.