Around 11 AM we headed to Aardvark Express, a hiker friendly food truck/trailer in the parking lot of the gas station. I set my pack down in the adjacent shade tent and before I could even utter a word to the owner he handed me a Rainier beer. He then gave me another for Roadrunner, who hadn’t even finished walking up yet. I ordered the Hurry Curry and a few minutes later was handed a huge carton of chicken panang curry over rice, topped with spinach, cilantro, and some kind of slaw. There was even a slice of pineapple devil’s food cake on top!
I ended up chatting with a local who rode his bike up. His trail name was “Hey Local” and he was a friendly guy. I hung out there for too long, but finally got on the road back to trail. Hey Local followed me to the trailhead, gave me a giant blueberry muffin, and said he was passing out the rest of them on trail to hikers in the opposite direction. So after a huge thing of curry, a big blueberry muffin, and all the resupply food I bought, I was ready for the big climb ahead.
But after the first big climb, I was not ready for the views. I had heard this area was scenic but I had no idea. It was stunning. The rest of the day continued with amazing scenery and I found myself glancing around for views. The terrain was also arguably the hardest in Washington so far. It was steep at times, rocky (both large unsteady rocks and small gravely rocks), and there was a lot of variation to the trail.
This meant I hiked much slower than usual. The views and the terrain kept me from going on autopilot. One one hand, that’s a good thing because the hiking is rewarding and interesting. On the other hand, I do have mileage goals and only so much food to last me. I was shooting to get to Stevens Pass on Saturday by noon, but at this rate I was slowly losing sight of that. I should have expected it as well. Everyone said this is the best section–and toughest–in all of Washington. And I agree.
By the time 8 PM rolled around, I was still a few miles from my targeted camping site. I got my headlamp on and figured I would take the first spot I saw. But for the next hour and a half, tentsite was taken. Because of the long weekend, and the popularity of the area, some of the sites were jammed with people. One spot was like a clown car packed with six or seven tents in a tiny space.
I eventually made my way to the Lemah River and found an empty spot. I was only 0.7 miles from my goal, but this would have to do. I couldn’t see but I knew it was cloudy and there was a chance of rain. But I was too tired to pitch my tarp, so I laid out my stuff and collapsed. It was a long, long day, but it was very satisfying.
Oh, and I saw a wild mountain goat today.
Main Photo: Just a random view past Snoqualmie Pass in Alpine Lakes Wilderness on August 29.