Glacier Peak Wilderness to Stevens Pass – Day 2

For every terrible day of hiking spent going uphill in a heat wave with no water, there are also perfectly divine days on the trail; today was one of those days. Overcast skies, cool temperatures, mostly downhill, and beautiful views.

Late Mornings

Brianna, Townie, and I stayed up chatting til past hiker midnight last night and woke up for coffee together before hitting the trail. All of us had set alarms, and none of us woke up to them. We talked about life and hiking, and upcoming trail info.

Townie quit her job to come hike the Washington section of the PCT this year, which is a section she did not get to do when she hiked the PCT in 2019, because of a foot fracture. She may come back and hike in California after a friend’s wedding in Sept. I would be stoked if our paths cross again, she is a social butterfly. We go to town with her once and we’d walk away with a dozen stories.

Even with the late start, we knocked out 19.6 miles today. The day was so easy that we could have done more, just chose not to. 

Blow Hard

Lots of blown-down trees towards the end of the day, but all of them had clear paths over, under, or around. Every NOBO we saw mentioned that 400+ down trees lay ahead of us and how terrible the trail was. If you hate blowdowns, then I guess it is terrible. If you accept blowdowns are just a part of life, it is just a slower version of normal.

Something I have to constantly remind myself when looking at trail maps is that an uphill or downhill is never just an uphill or a downhill. There are always other unknown factors that come into play, like loose rocks, sun exposure, sandy paths, storm exposure, heat waves, water carries, a bad night’s sleep, bugs, snow, ice, heavy packs, water crossings, down trees, and the list goes on. Every thru-hikers is managing 3, 4, or 5 of these things all at once. It’s a fluidly rotating situation of challenges to be underestimated at peril.

I used to think, “oh, a downhill, we should be able to make up time” and now I think, “oh, a downhill, this should be interesting.”

Tonight’s camp is by another creek, tucked away in the corner of many down trees but not near anything dangerous. As in life, things on the trail are more complicated than words could ever convince. We all think we can handle specific situations in a certain way until they happen to us. Afterwards, the veil of misconception lifts and we begin to appreciate what our forebears went through to get us to where we are today.

When I think about all of the hot pans I had to touch before understanding what my mother meant when she said, “don’t touch, it will burn you,” it reminds me how crucial firsthand experience is. “Save the rainforest,” they tell us, “protect the national parks.” But what does land a thousand miles away mean to me today when I have a mortgage payment due tomorrow? There is no bankruptcy program for deforestation, strip mining, or pollution.

What would the United States of America look like if everyone had to enlist in the military for their first 2 years out of high school? What if their 3rd year was spent hiking or doing trail maintenance in remote areas of the country? The idea freedom, wildfires, and drought would become less abstract and more real life. “All gave some and some gave all,” could apply to so much more.