Days 113-120: White Pass to Skykomish

August 24th-31st

White Pass to Snoqualmi

Apparently, my journey through Washington was about sleeping in and late starts. I woke up behind the market and had my things together by 6:55. It was a lovely, typical pacific northwest heavy mist and chilly morning. Luckily the store opened at 7, so I went in for coffee, a burrito and to hang out before starting my day. 

My biggest mistake here was sending a large resupply box for White Pass to Skykomish, instead of sending a smaller box halfway, to Snoqualmi too. I was regretting carrying so much food, though at the end, I did eat almost all of it. Since I had lost so much weight, I forced myself to eat even when I wasn’t hungry (8 oreos with my probar for first breakfast; yes thank you).

The next two days were rainy/misty. I was excited that it felt like home, but also a little sad, as I was worried it would be like this the rest of Washington. Luckily, it cleared up and was lovely!

There were so many trail angels and magic smashed into two days of hiking. When I got to the highway, there were a few people who brought donuts, sodas and other snacks (and supplies!). This was their first year trail angeling and were super stoked to meet everyone. After hanging out here for a couple hours and drying my gear, I continued on to Sheep Lake. It was mid-afternoon and I was debating on just calling it early to stay the night. However, after jumping in the lake, rinsing out my clothes and sun bathing, I was ready to put in a couple more hours.

Sheep Lake
Chilling at Sheep Lake

The following day I felt like moving quickly and pushed towards a cabin to have “brunch.” Here, I met Master Key and Hobbles, a couple guys who had went through the Sierra and were some of the few I met who had made it straight through the trail this year. There were a few people hanging out at the cabin, as you could drive a jeep up to it. We visited with a man and his son, and they made us coffee. A mile or two laters, we met Starburst and The Pope, a couple that hiked two years ago and were trail angeling this year!

I was so full of coffee, sweets, chips, everything! I thought I wasn’t going to hit my 30 miles for the day, but my new crew and I pushed on to Tacoma Pass for the night. There was an ultramarathon that had started early Saturday (today) and runners passed by us at 11pm. Tacoma Pass was the 75 mile mark of their 100 mile race.

Sunday morning I was, again, the last one out of camp. The race was still going, as the check station I camped at wouldn’t close until 1pm. It was great seeing the condition that runners were in, after running for 24 hours or more. About 2 miles in, there was a trail crew who invited hikers for breakfast burritos and beers. Of course, being on hiker-time, I stopped to enjoy a breakfast beer and burrito. I walked into the food tent and found Master Key, guess he wasn’t that far ahead of me! I chatted with some of the runners that stopped for a break. One mentioned that “you just walk uphill and run the downhill.” Well, I’m already doing that, with my pack on! It was motivational and maybe, one day, I’ll do a long distance run.

Master Key and I took off and four miles later we hit another race station. They were only waiting on a few more runners and pushed a ton of food (and a 2 liter of Coke) into our hands, so that they didn’t have to carry it all out. I was so full from eating the past two days and was dragging. I planned on camping just before Snoqualmi, but for as terrible as I felt, I made great time and pushed into town by 5pm.

While checking in, I ran into Godongo! I hadn’t seen him since Crater Lake and I was excited to catch up. The trail changes people in different ways and I could tell that he was a different man than who I had first met outside of Sierra City.

Snoqualmi to Skykomish

Sleeping in a bed is so weird, but I did like just relaxing. I went downstairs to the Pancake House for breakfast. Most hikers end up here, though the food was pretty mediocre. I planned on relaxing most of the day and hiking out in the afternoon. After checking out around noon, I went to the food cart for lunch (another hiker hangout). Haiku came strolling in!

As I ate my lunch, I realized how smokey it had become. The air was thick with smoke and it was hard to breathe, making me sleepy. It also became really hot. I just wasn’t feeling the motivation and did not want to make the climb out of town, sucking in this smoke. I split a room with Haiku and another couple, making my day a full zero and my only zero in Washington.

I slept like a rock! I got up a little later than normal, but still hit the trail by 8am. There was a lot of climbing today and the smoke was still really thick, but thankfully it wasn’t as hot. Most of the day felt like I was walking through the apocalypse; the dark brown smoke, the sun glowed orange, and ash fell all around me. I messaged Rafael on my InReach, double checking that the trail hadn’t been closed. By the time I got 27 miles, my lungs ached and mentally, I was done for the day. Godongo passed by me, waving, and continued on throughout the night.

Sunrise through the smoke.

The next morning, I was met with clearer skies. As I started up the trail, I realized that Master Key also camped here! We had no idea we were so close! The morning we leap frogged each other down the trail. By the afternoon, I had pushed ahead, this was the last time I saw him. It is still crazy to me how the trail happens like that; that you never know when or if you will see someone again.

I felt so much better and skipped along the trail. There were many weekend and section hikers out, it felt like there were more people on the trail than the first half of Washington. In the afternoon, I caught up to Godongo, this is also the last time I will see him.

At the end of the day, I made my way to Glacier Lake and quickly made camp before the sun set. There was a large group of weekend campers and a few thruhikers squished into this small area. The descent to the lake was beautiful and so cold.

Glacier Lake
Northern Washington had these pit toilets at every large campsite.

I finally woke up at 6am and was on the trail by 6:40! Still feeling great, I boogied my way to Stevens Pass. Only 14 miles into town! I did stop about halfway and have second breakfast, though part of me wanted to push hard all the way to town, where I would pick up new shoes!!!

Before second breakfast, I heard a terrifying scream! I yelled “go away” as loud as I could, backpedaling as fast as my little feet would take me. It sounded like a dying deer/elk/scary-large-mammal and didn’t want it to charge me. My heart leapt into my throat, heart pounding loudly, more screaming. I took off running back the way I came. My mind in panic, “You shouldn’t run, just back up, what if it starts chasing you!?” The only person I saw on the trail I passed 15-20 minutes ago. Luckily, he wasn’t as far behind me as I thought. Awkwardly, I asked if I could hike with him up the hill and told him about the crazy sound. As we passed the area I heard it, we ran into a couple other guys who seemed un-phased. “Maybe it ran away,” I thought.

As we continued down the other side, we met a trail crew, who were using power tools on the rocks…this, my friends, is what caused me to think a dying, threatened animal would sound like before it slaughtered me. I felt so stupid! But also, relieved. Ray and I continued hiking and chatting for a little while. Eventually, I passed by him and made my way to Steven’s Pass for lunch.

At the restaurant, I ran into Give-a-hoot. I didn’t realize I was this close to him, as I hadn’t seen him since White Pass. After lunch, I hitched a ride to Skykomish, to pick up my resupply AND NEW SHOES! It was later in the afternoon and I was kind of debating on what to do. There was a well known trail angel in town, but part of me also wanted to jump back on trail. Outside of the store, I met two other hikers whom I hadn’t met. They were going to get a ride to the trail angel’s place, so I just decided to join them. It was good to stop and rest, go through my resupply box and visit with these new hikers.