Wow! August is almost over. I’m a little bit sad about this. The Hike-a-Thon has given me a thirty-one day excuse to get out and go. Pretty much whenever the desire has made it itself and that’s pretty much any time. Today, for instance, I’m going to mow the lawn (because it looks jungley) and then possibly head up toward White Pass for some south end trail action. But, I’m a little sad that there’s only two more days of August left and soon I’ll be picking up all those little things I’ve been putting off.
Yesterday Tess and I took some friends up into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Matt Amend, a buddy from my paragliding days, and his girlfriend Lorie Drabant came over from Seattle Friday evening and stayed with us. Much tasty fish and crab was consumed and Saturday morning we woke up and made plans for Matt’s first trail run. I used ancient well-worn classical trail running tools to choose something special and memorable. The dart landed squarely on the Pete Lake region below Polallie Ridge. Off we went.
Matt, clad in brand new trail running shoes, and I took off up the trail. The Ohwi section was predictably full of people and dogs. We pushed through as fast as we were able and soon arrived at the Pete Lake trail head (#1323). Matt was setting pace for much of this segment as we rolled over the slight hills on our way up to the lake. At one point, while I was in the lead, there was a great yellow something off the side of the trail that made me pause. This fungus grew all over deadfall in the area and there were bigger patches than this one.
As we worked our way up the trail we could really make out the smell of smoke although we couldn’t really tell from which direction it was coming. When we arrived at the lake there was a Backcountry Wilderness Guard named Billie waiting at the crossroads of various trails that split off at this point. Spectacle Lake was closed to us because to get there we’d have to run right through the fire. We could climb up to Waptus Pass via Escandillo Creek basin or head on up to the real views along the rest of #1323.2 to where the PCT (#2000) climbs up and over an eastern arm of Summit Chief Mountain. We chose switch backs because it might get us out of the smoke and up high enough to see something.
Off we ran. We passed another ranger monitoring the fire’s progress, but kept on our way. We stopped for a bit to eat and both of us hooted at the scenery. Then on to the switch backs, oh yeah! This here is a certified collection with papers from the State demonstrating their authenticity. Soon, I mean really soon, Matt and I were well above the tops of trees and able to look out over the valley toward the Cascade Crest. Lemah Mountain and Chimney Mountain would poke out from under the smoke from time to time, the two of us would stop and gawk for a moment and then continue up the southern side of this arm of Summit Chief.
Just shy of a mile from the top Matt decided that it was probably best if we turned around and headed back down the trail. We’d already run further than he had in a day, we just had to turn around and get back to the cars. On our way down the switch backs we ran into Tess and Lorie marching happily up the trail. We joined up and began marching together down the trail. Re-watered and fed we made our way back to the lake stopping briefly to cool off in the creek.
Once everyone was back in the cars a couple of hours later we took a moment to review our shoes. Remember Matt’s were new, out of the box when we began this thing. Then off down the road where we ate vast plates of food and drank large glasses of cold beer at the Starlight Lodge. Fun times were had by all.
Lemah Fire (~600 acres) Diverting PCT traffic on Section J
Just wanted to let you all know that there is a pretty serious trail closure underway right now on Section J north of Snoqualmie Pass because of a long burning fire that has recently started to flare up again. Looking at the maps the detour to get around the fire will probably add at least a day onto most hiker’s passage through this section. This closure extends high enough that you cannot approach Spectacle Lake as best as I can tell. It was really smokey most of the day and the fire is creating its own weather.
Be careful out there, but enjoy the views. Incredible world we live in for sure.