The weather today was a little better than I expected. It was supposed to rain most of the morning and clear up in the afternoon, but when I awoke the rain had stopped, but clouds were still making dew drops in the trees and every piece of vegetation was soaking wet until after noon. It has been pretty cold all day, but no more rain, and I even had a few hours of honest to goodness sun.
I woke up a little late as expected and did not get.on trail until 7:15, the latest start of the entire trip. It was not as cold as I was expecting, but it was still chilly. I knew everything would be wet so I went ahead and suited up in the rain gear. I had some climbs to warm me up and I got into the groove quickly.
Right from the start, the trail was enveloped in clouds and it was breezy, but not windy. By 9 am I could start to see isolated patches of clear sky, but no sun. I could hear elk bugling at me fairly close by, perhaps 100 yds away. It’s a very eerie sound that’s hard to imagine it comes from an animal. By 11 am I was getting large patches of sky and actual sun.
I stopped for lunch at noon when I found a log in sunlight. I took off my rain pants and pack cover and let them.dry in the sun while I took my shoes off and let my feet and shoes dry out a little while I ate. Clouds kept rolling in front of the sun, so it was not a good drying session, but I was warmed and that’s what really matters.
After lunch, the trail made its way to a trailhead on the highway that leads into Rainier National Park. A few miles from the trailhead the number of people skyrocketed. About one mile from the trailhead I must have seen thirty people at one time on the trail. Once at the trailhead I could see why. There was a gigantic parking lot and overlook, and most importantly… pit toilets. A coke machine would have been nice, but the toilets were welcomed at the moment.
The trail climbed along side the road for about a mile before shooting over the ridge line. And as it did, it also went back into the clouds and the temperature dropped noticeably. Late in the day I ran into a hiker coming towards me that I knew. I had hiked with him a few days in northern California. We both recognized each other immediately. He had flipped up to Canada from Crater Lake and was now hiking South towards Crater Lake again. We chatted a bit, then moved on.
I was hoping to make a campsite that would put me just short of 25 miles for the day before it got too late and too cold. The trail lately has been quite high and exposed, and this campsite looked lower and protected. I got there just after 7 PM and found several good places for the hammock. Clouds were still rolling in and it was breezy, so I may get cold in the night. I will wear my fleece just as a precaution. I have two pairs of dry socks, but I was a bit peeved that my shoes never did dry out. I guess it’s too cold and my feet can’t generate enough heat to warm and dry them. I will still wear a pair of dry socks tomorrow even though they will probably get wet from the shoes fairly quickly. Maybe I can get them dry tommorow.
As I was cooking, my pot spilled over and I had just enough water to fill it again with only one or two ounces to spare. I will have no water for the morning, so I will have to see where the next source is. I passed one a few tenths before the campsite, so I may have to go back there in the morning. Theres nothing worse than having to hike backwards. At least it’s short.
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