Aug. 18th. Distance 7.1 miles. Ascent 1810 ft. Descent 466 ft.
We were treated to another beautiful morning, and what promised to be a blue sky day. We managed to pack up and break camp before 9:00 am. For the next couple of days we expected to be hiking into the Goat Rocks, getting above the tree line.
We trekked through some forest, slowly climbing above 6000ft on the west slope, eventually reaching a pass and crossing over to the east slope. The contrast in vegetation was stark – on the west side it was green, with meadows and vegetation, while on the east side it was dry with scrub bushes. Its impressive to witness first hand how the mountain ridges affect moisture in the atmosphere. The trail traversed north along the east facing slope and below us the mountain dropped off steeply to a valley below where waterfalls dropped into creeks that collected into the Klickitat river drainage.
We slowly ascended to Cispus Pass (6473ft), where we once again traversed from east facing to west facing slopes. Here we met a hiker out for the day, carrying the flag of Palestine – as his way of supporting the cause.
From the pass, we had a small descent heading north, then turning west we stopped to fill our bottles at a waterfall.
From there we continued west, climbing again, then turned north, heading up towards Snowgrass Flats back to 6400 ft. There we stopped to take the requisite photo at a huge cairn.
Photo-shoot done, we continued up towards the Packwood Glacier and the ‘Razor’s Edge’ at a little off 7000ft. We found a spot in the rocks just at the edge of a snow field where we set up camp. As the day progressed, we were able to divert the snow melt sufficiently to create a little bathing hole – a great but chilly luxury up here. Our site was on the slopes below Old Snowy and we looked north west towards Goat Lake. As we set up camp, a chopper came up an over the ridge, circling then going back over the Razor’s Edge. Hikers coming south over the Razor’s Edge told us a hiker had fallen and Search and Rescue was working to extract her. We also heard that our Spokane compatriots had taken the lower ‘PCT’ route across and apparently had a lot of trouble making it up the final slope of the trail.
Having the better part of the afternoon to enjoy (again!) we decided to hike to the top of Old Snowy. We crossed the Snow Field and picked our way another 1000ft up the stony trail, to reach the peak at just around 8000ft. What better way to spend an afternoon after a good trek than with a hike to a mountain peak.
With that under our belts, we headed down the mountain back to our camp. With a wonderful icy bath, and some hot food and drink, we sat back and watched the sun set and stars fill the sky.
Not long afterward the moon rose, but because of Old Snowy behind our backs, we were treated to swaths of light to the north and south, split by the mountain. Being at the tail end of the Perseids, we were enjoyed a few meteors, a spectacle worth hiking for.
When I turned in, I felt this day would go down as one of the top scenery days in all of my Washington PCT hikes. Once safely in my sleeping bag, all was well until around midnight when the wind picked up. I leave it at the fact that I was fortunate not to be picked up by the wind, which howled all night, compressing my tent and trying to toss me down the slope!