Saturday, August 4, 2018
Day 1. Miles hiked: 13ish. Elevation gain: apx 4000 feet. Elevation loss: apx 1500 ft
Goldmyer Hot Springs to PCT Section J just north of Snoqualmie Pass
I wake around 5:30am as Jared wakes and packs for his crack-of-dawn departure. I go back to sleep and wake again at 8:30am and eventually get out of my tent. We all rise, enjoy our coffee and mostly-oatmeal-dominated-breakfasts, slowly pack up, and leave camp at 11:50am, just in time for our noon departure. Group selfie. The 6 of us hike to the Dutch Miller Gap/Middle Fork Snoqualmie trail junction and part ways after a small discussion about getting B.O. out of hiking shirts (try Oxyclean and/or Techwash from REI?).
Mark and actually hike back past our campsite, and after only mild confusion, find the old busted up footbridge across which we hobble/scramble with our enormous packs to cross the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River. Somehow we manage to not fall in or get swept away. Success.
The next 3.5 miles is along the somewhat overgrown flat section of the Middle Fork Trail. Over a handful of blowdowns. Up, up, up 3,000 feet and many switchbacks on the Rock Creek Trail. Over 4 miles. After the forest we are met with sunshine and heat. A few snack breaks. We see one woman on the trail. “Good luck at the Zoo” that is Snow Lake, she says. Eventually, through the overgrown brush and blowdowns, we reach the Gem Lake Trail junction and immediately see a half-dozen hikers – several of which are blasting music from their bluetooth speakers. Entering the Zoo. Snow Lake may be crowded, but it is beautiful. Our first of the alpine lakes. We fill our water at a stream where two women take pics and selfies with their dogs. Up to the overlook. Down, down, down the 3+ miles to the Alpental Parking lot. Small trail traffic jam.
Thumbs out. We catch a ride with a nice family – mom, pop, kid, dog – in their truck. They deliver us to the Chevron where we promptly buy gatorade and V8. We eat a burger-filled dinner at the Aardvark Express food truck in front of the Chevron, momentarily overtaken by our fleeting cellphone reception. The friendly assistant manager of the Summit Inn inspires us to get back on the trail to escape his chatter.
A short road walk brings us to the spur to the PCT. We’re on the PCT for a few hundred feet before taking an immediate left – a shortcut down the abandoned-but-well-maintained Commonwealth Basin Trail – to cut off a few switchbacks. Shorter = steeper 😦 We pass a few people including a family set up camp by the river. Back on the PCT. It’s approaching dark and we snag a spot just in time to set up our tents and for me to dig a cathole for my first woods poo. We’re tired and we crash at 9:30pm, just past “hiker midnight”.