Friday, August 3, 2018
Day 0. Miles hiked: 5. Elevation gain: not much. Elevation loss: 0 ft
Trailhead to Goldmyer Hot Springs
A lovely day at the Goldmyer Hot Springs.
Last night Mark, Jared, and I spotted a car at Stevens Pass in preparation for our hike from Snoqualmie Pass to Stevens Pass – a trek that will be somewhere between 70 and 80 miles, depending on side trails and whether or not we have to hike from Goldmyer or can get a ride to pass to start. That’s cutting it pretty tight – we’re hoping to finish the section by Wednesday night or Thursday morning which equates to 16ish or more miles per day. We’re going to have to hustle. I’m just recovering from a bout of giardia – my first experience with the lovely bug. Turns out my stomach isn’t made of steel after all and I, too, need to filter my water in the backcountry. Damn.
The three of us make the drive from Stevens to Snoqualmie, via the Sultan Bakery which has the most delicious buttermilk bars and the largest breakfast sandwiches I’ve ever experienced. Along the drive, we formulate our plan: since Jared has to get up at the crack of dawn and drive home for a maker’s space commitment on Vashon and Tyler’s car is full with him, Amy, Megan, and Sam – Mark and I are going to hike the extra 10 miles down the Middle Fork Trail, up the the Rock Creek Trail, and down the Snow Lake Trail to arrive at Snoqualmie Pass and begin our Section J hike in earnest. We’ll add one more alpine lake to the total, making it 24, not 23, lakes we’ll see as we weave across the crest of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
We drive down the pothole-filled dirt forestry road and arrive at the trailhead for Goldmyer Hot Springs/Dutch Miller Gap Trail around 1pm. Tyler’s Subaru is already there, which means our four companions are already there and on their way. Mark and I rearrange the 6+ days of food in our heavy packs and the three of us set off down the trail. It’s a dirt road that’s ever-so-slightly uphill and easy, if not boring, walking. We sample the many thimbleberries along the way. Mark forgot the giant Sultan Bakery cookies in the car – damn! Two-thirds of the way there we catch up to Sam, Megan, Tyler, and Megan and all walk and catch up. Jose, Heidi, and Dean sadly could all not join us so it’s just the 7 of us.
We show up at the Goldmyer Hot Springs office and check-in with the friendly caretaker, Eric, whose wide-eyed at-peace look can only be attributed to the month spent at these idyllic hot springs nestled in the dense green Washington forest. Once in our campsite, we eat snacks, set up tents, and visit the river bank to smoke what must be smoked off the Goldmyer grounds. Then to the hot springs! An easy 15 minute walk up the trail to the pools: the hottest and biggest in a cave, a small Goldilocks pool, and a slightly cooler and bigger pool with little foot washing station. And of course, the cold plunge pool for a little contrast hydrotherapy. A handful of other folks are there and/or join us. At dinner time, we head back to camp to cook our assorted trail dinners – mac & cheese, ramen, mountain house meals, etc – and drink some of the Bandit wine (whose trail marketing is really on point because it really is perfect for backpacking). Back to the hot springs around dark for an evening soak. Then to bed, not long after 10, for a restful night of sleep…