WA PCT Section J – Part I, Day 2 – Kendall Katwalk and Getting Sick


Sunday, August 5, 2018
Part I, Day 2. Miles hiked: 11. Elevation gain/loss: +3975/-3520 ft
Just north of Snoqualmie Pass to 3 miles shy of Spectacle Lake

(See the great Instagram pictures here)

I wake at 6:30. I had to pee twice in the night. I always wish I could sleep the whole night through… I was woken once in the night by the headlamp of a night-hiker shouting “Hiker coming through!” In my sleepy delirium I was convinced he was walking literally through our campsite. But alas- he was on the main trail. He must of mistaken the reflective bits on our tents for night-time animal eyes because he added “Sorry to wake you!” and continued on down trail. Our goal today is Spectacle Lake, 14 miles away, or beyond if we’re feeling good.

I wake Mark by throwing sticks at his tent. We pack up and are out of camp a little after 9. Much more ambitious than our noon start the previous day. Up to the Kendall Katwalk. Very beautiful. The real start of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Snack at the view. It’s a warm day with lots of sun and exposure. Great views of the aptly named Red Mountain throughout the morning. Gravel Lake, Ridge Lake, Alaska Lake. Some steady climbing, ups and downs, then Joe Lake. A break for lunch in the shade. The alleged “seasonal creek” is nowhere to be found. Damn. Note to self: read the Guthook app notes about each water source before running out of water. Mark runs hot and the heat does not make him a happy camper.

We continue on up through the exposed terrain. Another shade break. Very low on water. Mark is too kind and shares some of his with me. Just in time we find a tiny alpine lake where three other hikers are hanging out and we grab one more liter of water each. The landscape is beautiful and dramatic. Ridges, mountains, and alpine lakes for miles. We wind our way inside the ridge just below Huckleberry Mountain, Chickamin Peak, and the Four Brothers. A few sketchy drop-offs make me nervous (maybe a new trail name for me: Nervous Nelly? Will have to think on it…)

At a snow patch we take the opportunity to cool off. Mark is officially not feeling well. We eventually cross over the pass into the Parks Lake Basin and wind our way down, down, down. Lovely views of the Park Lakes. Three miles to go to Spectacle Lake. Why don’t we stop at this pond and camp for the night? It’s been a long day. We pull off the trail around 5pm and take a dip in the cool-enough pond. Feels great. Relax for a minute, then we set up our tents as escape from the ravenous mosquitos (the dark side of so many alpine lakes). Mark crawls into his tent and promptly falls asleep. He feels like garbage.

I chill the last of the wine – leftovers from Goldmyer which we’ve been toting around for too long. Look at maps. Get situated. Write. Sip wine. Cook dinner – Good-to-Go Thai Curry – which is pretty good and incredibly filling despite it containing only 750 calories. Poop in the woods at dusk. On my way back to my tent I startle a deer, which startles me. Mark is not feeling very well but manages to eat a few snacks between his naps. Asleep between 9 and 9:30pm…


Kendall Katwalk – October 2015

A blog post only a week behind! I’m catching up…

Tuesday. July 28, 2015. Hike: Kendall Katwalk. Distance: 12 miles. Elevation gain: 2600 feet. High point: 5400 feet.

I hiked Kendall Katwalk for the first time in July. You can find pretty pictures from that hike HERE. I didn’t carry my phone/camera so no pics this time around. But to give you an idea, imagine the pictures from July only more gray. It didn’t really rain on me, but the Seattle gray has settled in and now most days are just kinda gray now.

This time around I was going for a trail run. So I made the Katwalk part of my half marathon training. (I’m running the Grand Ridge Half Marathon in less than 2 weeks from now!) 2,600 feet elevation gain is a little more than I want to run, but the Katwalk is a good distance and importantly close to Seattle.

I drive out to the trailhead and park in the half full lot. I start my run sometime between 9 and 10am. I’m not timing myself really. Just running to run and cover the miles that I’ll cover in the race. I wont be setting any records. My race goal is to finish and run the entire time. If I finish under 3 hours – a slow and completely attainable goal – I’ll be happy.

Temps are around 50. I’m decked out in running tights, a t-shirt, my houdini windjacket, and earband. I have a handheld water bottle, which holds only 10 oz, so I carry another 1L water bottle – somewhat awkwardly without a strap. Without a running vest, this will have to do. I take a few gels – okay, packets of honey – for energy and experimentation. The first time I ran a long run (about 90 minutes) I did it without food or water and felt like total crap. Rookie move. It’s worth it to carry a little something. There’s an entire science behind when and what to eat and drink, but I’m fine approximating it. I realize I forgot my watch so I’ll guess at the best time to eat the gels – around 2/3 of the way to the top, then again 1/3 of the way down.

I set off on the trail. It’s a gradual climb. Steady but not too steep. I run the entire way up, aside from a few slightly steeper patches and spots with terrible footing where I walk. I pass a few people – some going up, some coming down. I eat a honey packet 2/3ish of the way up. According to WTA, it’s here “at 4.25 miles, cross a nearly flat ridge top where large fallen trees bear evidence to a past storm”. Swigs of water here and there. I also stash the bigger water bottle after refilling my handheld from it and continue uphill.

The wind picks up in gusts near the top. Brrr. I hope the exposed Katwalk isn’t windy. I can always pop my hood for a little more weather protection. I climb a little higher and pop out onto the “katwalk” where luckily there is no wind. The scree here is slower going but I take the opportunity to walk when I can. I turn around at the first switchback on the katwalk. I think that must have been about 6 miles.

Whew running down is more my speed. I have to watch my footing and I’m concerned about getting cold, but it’s great. I pass a few people I ran by on the way up as well as a lot more people coming up now. I understand the trail etiquette that those going up have the right of way, but it’s really nice when people move over for me to run past. (Or do trail runners automatically have the right of way? Hmm I should look into this.)

I eat my second honey packet and pick up my rogue water bottle. I contemplate not eating honey, but convince myself that it’s better to have a tiny bit too much sugar in my system than not enough. Running down is so much more fun. My knees feel fine, which I’m actually surprised by. I would have thought my knees would hate me, but they seem pretty happy. Sweet.

Two miles from the trailhead I get passed by 2 horses and their riders – the first time I’ve actually seen horses on the PCT. I manage not to fall on the way down, too. Score. And I make it down to the trail head just in time to use the stinky outhouse a few hours later. (I forget how long it took me – not fast for sure but not horribly slow either.)

I immediately change into wool pants, wool shirt, and down jacket. The only way to stay warm is to not get cold, so they say. I gobble down a little rice and veggies I brought to get some food in my body. I’m not hungry, but I can’t really eat and drive so it’s now or when I get home. Drink a little more water. I drive home to Seattle but not without stopping. Ugh I feel sick. I’m nauseous. Was it the run? The slightly sketchy leftover rice? Getting too hot in my wool and down duds? The bumpy highway? Yes, probably all of the above. I pull off some random exit, pull onto a cul-de-sac, recline my seat, and powernap. I manage to doze off for a few minutes and somehow feel better. Back on the road again. Race, here we come!