Thursday 25th August
Start: Rainy Pass, mile 2589
End: Tatie Peak Bushcamp, mile 2613.8
This morning I was sitting on a wall in the trailhead car park cooking oatmeal when a white car pulled up. I felt conscious as I probably resembled a hobo trying to keep warm in front of a stove. It was only 6am. The car window went down and our old friend Mark who we had last seen in Trout Lake appeared! I do love a trail reunion.
Mark was dropped off by his friend Roberta to join us for this section. He came bearing the gift of raspberry pie, so he was instantly in! It was good to have some fresh blood with us today, even if Mark was carrying a new ridiculous ultra lightweight kit – his bag is only 15 pounds with food and water. My bag must currently be at least double that.
We timed it well because the early morning hours took us up to Cutthroat Pass. The views were expansive and incredible, with dramatic sculpted peak surrounding us. I love mounting a pass, because not only does it mean it’s finally time for some down-hill action, but once at the top a whole new set of mountains and vistas appear. On the other side we descended down briefly through Granite Pass, then was on a steady climb once again to Methow Pass. The trail was visible for a long way in front of us as we could trace it skirting up and around the mountain.
Not long before we stopped in a shaded forested area for lunch we passed a 2600 PCT sign. OK, so we haven’t personally completed 2600 miles from Mexico, but it reminded me that we are on the final countdown. The lunch of cinnamon rolls (ridiculously heavy but impossible to resist) was one of my trail favourites. Less than a mile after we continued on and a frightened-looking French guy hurried past us. He said a bear had caught him by surprise right next to the trail a few minutes ago. I wonder if it was the cinnamon rolls that attracted it?!
I kept my eyes peeled but was glad not to see any bears. By early afternoon some clouds had come over, providing the perfect hiking weather – warm but overcast. Unfortunately, and what we in England would call ‘sod’s law’, by the time we started our long afternoon ascent the sun was beaming. At already 18 miles in, we commenced a big 13-mile climb up towards Harts Pass.
Harts Pass is the last road that we will cross before Canada. It is unpaved, but for many PCT hikers unable to cross the border, it is the exit point from the trail. We made it 7 miles up the mountain in the strong afternoon sun. I don’t know how I made it, because with the exposure and the constant uphill I was really struggling. It felt like it took an eternity to reach camp. It was particularly tough because we had been told conflicting information about the reliability of the stream there, so was hauling litres of extra water. It turned out the stream was flowing fine.
Tonight Conrad and I are camped in a meadow at 6500 feet, with imposing cliffs above us. Both Dan and Mark are nearby. We are surrounded by a landscape of scree and rocks, so the stream and small meadow is a little oasis. The local deer are rather put out by our presence here, as they nervously watched us whilst trying to graze. There is also a flurry of noisy critters in the rocks right behind us. I saw a number of pika, which are a rare tiny mammal with round ears and no tail. For the first time on the trail we rewarded a massive days hiking effort with 2 dinners – mac’n’cheese followed by chocolate oatmeal. Well why not?!
Miles to Canada: 36.3
Miles to Finish: 45