I slept until sunrise because I was planning a short day. My pack was heavy with all the extra food I’d just picked up, plus I wanted to cross the Goat Rocks knife edge ridge, said to be the best bit of trail in Washington, in the day time. So it only made sense to stop just short of the ascent to the ridge.
As I packed up, the camp robbers returned several times, this time joined by chipmunks, but they couldn’t steal anything from me.
I got a bit confused hiking out because, although there had been only one trail coming into camp, there were two going out, and I picked the wrong one. It led to another small campsite and a large object wrapped in a tarp. I decided not to mess with it, whatever it was. I backtracked and found the other trail. Ten minutes later, I was back on the PCT.
I stopped for lunch at Lutz Lake and took off my headphones to talk to an elk hunter camped there. One of the earbuds (newly but cheaply bought the day before) promptly came apart. I tried to fix it with some help from the hunter while we chatted, but it was a lost cause. The other earbud still worked, so I could still have a few days worth of private listening.
The hunter said he had been stalking the same bull in a nearby bog for three days straight, and had almost gotten close enough to shoot before it randomly spooked that morning. (It was muzzle-loader season and he was very proud to say he had never failed to deliver a clean, killing shot on the first try, so he needed to be very close.) He was going out again after lunch to give it one more try because it was his last day out. He didn’t seem too worried even though he was hunting for his table because he could always come back for cow season.
He wasn’t the only hunter I encountered that day, though he did seem the most savvy. In fact, you’ll hear about several more elk hunter encounters throughout the next week.
A couple of miles later, the trail finally emerged from the trees and entered the Goat Rocks area proper. After a steep climb straight up the side of a waterfall, I found my campsite just off trail with a stream flowing right through it. Although the site itself was rocky and lacking in flat sites, there was a path through the trees to a grassy bowl just perfect for a tent. The wind kind of funneled through the area, and there was nowhere to put a tent that wasn’t directly in that wind, but it wasn’t particularly strong or cold…yet.
Meanwhile, up on the ridge, the goats chewed placidly on the choicest grass and looked down on me uninterestedly.
Total distance: 13 miles