Aug. 19th. Distance 10.2 miles. Ascent 1895 ft. Descent 3285 ft.
The nights howling wind made for poor sleep, so getting up early was not difficult. We packed up relatively quickly, and with a fill of oatmeal, we started trekking onward, with the goal of reaching the top of the alternate PCT route before the sun crested the slopes.
The alternate route requires an extra 600ft of climbing, retracing the steps we took the previous afternoon en route to the top of Old Snowy. Once we reached the high point, the Razor’s Edge stretched out towards the north east. Many through hikers recognize this stretch of trail as one of the highlights of the entire 2650 miles of the PCT, and on this cloudless blue sky day, the reason for this billing was clear. The pictures below just give a glimpse of this amazing place.
We were also fortunate to spot a few of critters for which the wilderness is named.
We picked our way through the rocks along the ridge, eventually meeting up with the regular PCT coming up from below. This trek along the edge was truly amazing – Incredible views in all directions, sweeping drop offs down snow fields, meadows with flowers, great rock formations and only a little wind. Having hiked across the state on the PCT, and experiencing the amazing stretch from Hart’s Pass north and hiking around Glacier Peak, this 2-3 miles of trail has been the greatest experience of them all. If you have a chance to hike in even for a day or two, I would urge any one to take advantage!
We continued north on the trail, chatting with through hikers going north and weekenders heading south. After Elk Pass, the trail turned west for a while and we descended around 1000 ft, and crossed a glacier melt creek. The water was so cool and clear, I just couldn’t bypass the opportunity…
After a short break, we continued to wind our way down, passing several groups headed up to enjoy the weekend. Some folks were even carrying up their rods in hopes of doing some fishing in the lakes.
Eventually the trail turned north again and we hiked through to Lutz Lake, where we decided to stop for lunch. We fired up the stove and made a pot of Miso Soup, a supply I always carry, somewhat in honor of the trek from Rainy Pass to Manning Park, where I maintain that I made it through powered largely by Miso Soup, Oatmeal and Oranges. Refueled we donned our packs, which were significantly lighter by this time, and continued on.
The rest of the way to the turn off for Hidden Springs was a slow rolling climb, primarily walking through the forest. We found a great camp just above the springs, which included a well developed kitchen area. Once again we had the benefit of clean running water, and took the opportunity to be able to climb into our sleeping bags clean and refreshed. For our last night on the trail this year, it was a peaceful setting, with the creek quietly burbling in the background. Sleep came easy.