Today’s 21-mile trek was brought to you by – water! Water is scarce in the first 60 miles of the southbound hike from Snoqualmie to White Pass. Throw in that we are also avoiding some water sources for various reasons and it all adds up to dry camping and water carries.
As crazy as this may sound, we have made a southbound friend and have been hiking with her for the past few days. I originally met PBR (puked before rallying) at a camp spot by a few ponds, we were both filtering water. She is from Wisconsin, now living in Colorado. My affection for people from Wisconsin and her ‘midwestern nice’ attitude made for a fast friendship. We aren’t hiking together on the trail, but are leapfrogging each other on breaks and always taking an extra 5-10 minutes to chat when it happens.
Early Camping is Too Late
Today was filled with short steep climbs that we handled like bosses for the first 75% of the day. Our pace was fast enough to get us to where we wanted to camp by 5pm… unfortunately, the northbounders must have arrived by 4pm and the place was packed. Despite our effort to make it to camp early, we were still too late. Despite our efforts to avoid popular water sources, this one could not be skipped.
Beyond the frustration of arriving somewhere that is already overfull and not knowing where to go, there is another bothersome thing about this thing PBR refers to as “camp wars”. In some ways, it’s a lot like grade school. Some people have their tents up and their gear in the spots next to them, saving for a friend who has not yet arrived. I’m in 3rd grade again and we have walked into a cafeteria, all the tables are full, but many of the seats are still empty. Instead of eating our lunches at the tables with empty chairs, we have to walk 2-3 miles to the next cafeteria and hope for the best.
In the end, everything turned out for the best. We hiked southward for another half mile and found a single ridge site with a beautiful view of Mount Rainier. We didn’t want to spend the night around 30 other people. It was a good thing we didn’t have any tent site options to try.
These past few days are a cautionary tale to anyone hoping to hop on the trail for some solitude. These backwoods places can be just as populated as a nightclub on a Friday night. With only a few more days left in Washington, we are attempting to make the best of it. Hopefully, California will be around SOME people but not ALL the people.