Overview of our adventureIn August 2009 a couple friends and I went out for a trip on the Pacific Crest Trail. The planned route was to take one of our cars to the Pete Lake Trailhead and then drive back to Snoqualmie Pass where we would park and start the hike heading north on the Crest Trail.
Let's just say it was an adventure!
Day 1 August 4th 2009Leaving from Renton we got to the Pete Lake Trailhead in good time around 2pm and my friend parked his car and gathered his things. While doing that I decided to turn my car off (bad idea) to conserve gas. I however forgot that my car at the time had starter problems and would not start when the engine was very hot. When he was ready and packed into my car we thought we would be on our way but my car wouldn't start. Remembering now that my car did that I knew we just had to wait a half hour for it to cool a little and we'd be on our way. Great, so we are a half hour behind schedule but nothing to bad.
After waiting it started and we left. We got to Snoqualmie Pass around 4:30 and were ready to start hiking. We wanted to get to Gravel Lake to camp and watch the sunset from the Kendall Katwalk on our way.
We started on the trail though the forest under sunny skies. The forecast was looking great for the whole trip.
We passed the Commonwealth Basin trail junction and continued climbing. The sun began setting on us just as we started approaching treeline.
It started getting dark and we missed the bilk of the sunset and by the time we got to the ridge near the Katwalk it was dark enough we had to break out the head lamps.
Being the trickster I am I suggested to the two guys with me that we sleep at the top of the ridge right next to the Katwalk without tents under the stars and watch the sunrise from the Katwalk the next morning.
They were skeptical at first about sleeping with 500 foot vertical cliffs to both sides of us but agreed as there was an area large enough for three sleeping bags.
Was a beautiful warm night under the stars.
Day 2 August 5th 2009About 4:30 in the morning we awoke to spectacular twilight. The sunrise was going to be amazing. We waited around slowly making breakfast and taking pictures of the sunrise. The mosquitoes were awful but we managed to avoid the worst of them with the deet we had.
Here are a couple photos of that spectacular sunrise taken from the Katwalk.
By 6:30am we were ready to start hiking. We walked over the Katwalk and made it to Gravel and Ridge Lake pretty quickly and stopped to fill water bottles.
We continued down the PCT passing by Edds lake to the north and Alaska Lake to the south. The ridge separating them was beautiful. Rounding the ridge we saw Joe Lake next and got a great view of Alaska Mountain. I'll be back to climb that thing!
We then turned north to a flatter area with some beautiful tarns and spectacular views of Huckleberry and ALaska Mountains.
We were feeling pretty good and enjoying the scenery. We continued down the trail on the west slopes of Chikamin Peak and the Four Brothers. Chikamin Peak was actually my first real alpine summit I have ever done. I was hoping to re-climb it this time as I didn't have a camera the first time but lack of route knowledge was a limiting factor. We finally rounded the corner and saw down to the Park Lakes. There was so much haze and glare though that I didn't get a photo of them.
When we got to the boot path that takes you to Glacier Lake and beyond into the Stone Kingdom we dropped the packs and started heading for Glacier Lake. We were getting a little worn out. This area is of rare beauty and I could come back here over and over again. When we got to Glacier Lake we relaxed for awhile and even took a nice nap on the lush green grasses at the outlet stream.
I was hoping to climb Chikamin Peak but since I was a little unsure of the exact route I told my friends (I was the trip leader) that I wasn't 100 percent sure of the route and I wouldn't want to lead them astray.
Since it was a few years prior that I climbed it when I was an outdoor noob just getting started, and I was led by adults, I didn't remember the route at the time.
I will be back to the area many times though. My heart lies in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
We started making our way back to the Crest Trail but went very slow to take in the scenery.
Upon getting back to the packs we were on our way to head to Spectacle Lake to camp the night. We made the final climb up to Chikamin Ridge and took a long break to overlook Lemah, Chimney Rock and Spectacle Lake.
From here it was a long switchbacking hike down to the Lake. We found a nice camp spot on the SE side of the lake and went for a nice swim in the swimming hole to wash off. The water was surprisingly warm. I estimated it to be around 70 degrees.
We saw the first people on the whole trip at Spectacle Lake. Up to this point we had complete solitude. There were two other groups at the lake with us that night.
After a big dinner we went to bed right as the sun set.
Day 3 August 6thWe awoke to one of the better sunrises I've seen. The lake was perfectly calm and the reflections were superb!
As the sun came up we knew it was going to be a beautiful day.
We started down the PCT to the Lemah Creek crossing. This was the creek that ate me a few years back on our way to Chikamin. I managed to face plant into the creek both times! Not this time though. I took my shoes off and waded.
The water was very refreshing. The rest of the hike was uninteresting as it was mostly forested. We took a nice lunch break at Pete Lake but the glare was very bad. The Cooper River looked very nice along the trail just before getting out.
We had talked about whether the cars would work once we got back as a joke. When we got to the Pete Lake Trailhead, we loaded up my friends car and it started (whew!).
However, right as we got back to the pavement and over the Cle Elum River bridge onto the Salmon La Sac Road, his alternator died (WHAT!)...yes the battery wasn't getting a charge and the car died!
We had to figure out what to do. My car was at Snoqualmie Pass.
We decided to have one stay at the car and have my fiend who owned the car and I try to hitch a ride to Roslyn where we can get phone service.
After numerous attempts at trying to flag a car down from the Salmon La Sac road (there aren't very many cars) someone finally agreed to take us down to Roslyn. So we hopped into the bed of the truck and called for a tow in Roslyn.
The tow came very quickly from Cle Elum luckily and it ppicked us up in Roslyn after we took a stop at the pizza parlor there.
We directed the driver to the location of the car. We were swiftly able to get it hooked up and were on our way to Cle Elum in the tow truck.
However we needed a way to get from Cle Elum to Snoqualmie Pass.
My friend had called his dad to come out and get us (lol)
He was nice about it though and dropped us off at Snoqualmie.
My friend later had to return to Cle Elum to get his repaired car.
Once we got to my car it was off to Olive Garden to finish off the trip!
SummaryThis was a turning point in my outdoor career. I found out on this trip that I can control what I do in the wilderness. Before this trip I was being led, either by scout leaders or older friends. My photos on this trip are also fairly mediocre which had now changed.
On this trip I was the leader. I realized on this trip that I can do what I want and know how to deal with risks and be safe in the outdoors. It was also in September and October of 2009 shortly after this trip that I got my first introduction to cross country travel in the Colorado Rockies from my new college roommate.
I slowly got more and more knowledge and experience in the outdoors throughout the western US. In 2010 I hiked an estimated 1000 miles and gained irreplaceable experiences and got better and better at photography.
Now in 2011 I consider myself good at landscape photography and very knowledgeable in the outdoors.
I am very excited for my plans this year; starting with 9 days in Utah over spring break coming up in about a week and a half!