This state continues to amaze me. I was a little worried last night about finding a spot to hang my hammock since I was above treeline, but today above treeline was orders of magnitude better than yesterday. I felt like I was in the Sierras all over again. The views and vistas seemed to go on for a hundred miles in every direction.
I got up at the usual 5:45 and we on the trail by 6:45 but it seemed lighter than usual because I was above treeline and there actually was more sun than usual. The views of Mt St Helens were as good as they have ever been and in the morning sunrise they were extra special. The views of Rainier were impressive in the sunrise as well. And the trail keeps getting closer to it.
It was still early in the morning when I hit my first snowfield going up to the knife edge trail. The new shoes I got for Washington worked fantastically on the snow. It was still out of the sun and was rock hard. I jabbed my shoes across the snow and they held like glue. I was able to walk across the snow as fast as if it was dirt.
Once up to the knife edge trail, I looked at the lower bypass and it looked pretty scary itself. It was on the side of a very steep slope and had a snow field across it. I found out later from another hiker that it indeed was pretty scary to walk across. I had already decided that I wanted to do the extra 600 ft of climbing to go up and over the knife edge.
The climb up went pretty quickly other than stopping to check for cell signal and wish Karen a happy birthday. I had good data, but could not make calls, so email was my only option. I was so enthralled with the scenery that I had not noticed that I passed the knife edge trail and was hiking up to the peak of Snowy Mountain. Yikes, I was high. But the view was incredible. I could see all of Ranier and St Helens and could even see Mt Baker off in the distance.
I scrambled off of Snowy and back to the knife edge trail. Once across knife edge, the descent back down to the bypass trail was steep and slippery. The talus just gave way under your feet at nearly every step. It was like a rock glissade. The trail afterwards was quite sketchy as well. It was very narrow, very steep on either side, and had small landslides all over the place. There were road apples all over the place. I was amazed that people were actually brave enough to bring horses up here. I never would. In the picture, you can see the trail snaking up the next ridge heading towards Mt Rainier.
Eventually, the trail turned off the ridges and headed east down to the valley below. Seeing the snowfields high above was just as impressive as seeing them from above looking down at them. I filled up with water at the first chance in the valley and hiked until noon to stop for lunch. At noon I had gone only eight miles instead of the usual twelve to fourteen. I had taken so much time on knife edge (two hours) and stopping to take pictures that I was way low on mileage but every minute of delay was worth it.
After lunch, the trail was much more familiar trees and woods for most of the afternoon until we had to climb another pass to get to the next valley. It was above treeline for about an hour and had good views of Rainier. The last six miles were downhill through forest to get to White pass where my next resupply box is waiting.
I got to the pass trailhead parking at 6:30 and there was a trail angel set up cooking burgers and handing out beers. Rainier beers. I had to stop, of course, and discovered that the store closed at 6 PM so there was no use in going any further. I will have to wait until morning to get my box and it will probably be raining by then.
The forecast shows rain from tonight until midday two days from now. Tommorow will be crappy and forty degrees all day long. I had toyed with the idea of hitching into Packwood and taking a zero tomorrow. Depending on how miserable tomorrow actually is will determine if I hole up or just head out after resupplying. One inch of Washington rain in mid September. How bad could it actually be?