PCT WA Section I

Oct. 1: Chinook Pass and Rainier NP

I woke up well before dawn. Morning twilight was just beginning as I hiked out past the lake. Everything was perfectly still and quiet. A single bird glided over my head and the sound of its feathers vibrating in the air stood out enough in the silence to startle me.

Even though I was the first out of camp that morning, I wasn’t the first on the trail. I met two hikers coming up from the parking lot in some dashing trail fashion. I arrived at the parking lot a few minutes later to see that there were already a number of visitors. Sometime had even car-camped in an SUV with an infant.

I took advantage of the clean and well-stocked Chinook Pass toilets, of course, as any thru-hiker would when faced with such luxury. They even had trash cans inside so I could lighten my load. Moreover, they had been stocked with so much excess toilet paper that it could not all be secured on the lock bar. Which is another way of saying that there was somehow one less roll when I left than when I entered. I wonder where it got off to?

I met a woman in the parking lot who was setting out to run the entirety of the section of the PCT between there and White Pass.

“It should take me about 7.5 hours. At least, that’s when I told my ride to go me up.”

“29 miles in 7.5 hours, huh? That’s…a pace. Is that going to be enough water or do you have a filter with you?”

*adjusting the small bottles on her running vest* “It should be enough. I’ve done this before. But I’ve got a Steri-Pen just in case.”

“Wow. I think… I’ll be happy getting there tomorrow.”

I should note that, judging from her face, this woman was probably 20 years my senior. Something to aspire to, I guess.

Anyway, I crossed the highway on the hiker bridge and entered the national park. I issued myself a backcountry permit at the self-permit station and set off down to the lakes. There were a number of other folks hiking that day, but none with any interest in chatting. There were plenty of views and plenty of camp robbers watching me closely every time I stopped, particularly when I stopped for lunch.

I finished my day near Snow Lake, picking an established site in the woods far from the trail and the water as per regulations.

Total distance: 21 miles

Sheep Lake before dawn

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