WA – PCT Section J . . . for Jan and Joan (together again)

Dates Hiked:  August 28 to September 2, 2016
Direction: Northbound
Section J: Snoqualmie Pass to Stevens Pass
-Miles: 71
-Elevation: Gain 19,128′ (269 feet/mile), Loss 18,068′ (254 feet/mile)

While I was thrilled to share some more trail miles with my adventure buddy Hemlock, I was more than a little nervous pairing up with my friend who floats up the climbs while I suffer and slog. What was I thinking? I’ve heard this is the most challenging up/down section of the entire PCT, even more than the sierra section. This sign at the beginning of the trail did little to alleviate my anxiety. 

The first stretch is known for two things, the Alpine Lake Wilderness (ALW) and the Kendall Katwalk. After my recent Chiwaukum Circumnavigation trip in the ALW, which was a stark contrast to my Enchantments trip, I was extremely curious as to what I might find on the PCT. 

Why hello Mount Rainier!

Hemlock showing how to walk the Katwalk. 

Although it we were nearing the end of August, fall foliage seemed to indicate the end of September.

This is the scene I’d expected in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. There were plenty of lakes easily accessible via the PCT and thus we happily took a dip in several.

Are you the Four Brothers and Three Queens? 

Hello Ms Grouse. 

Weather be a changing?

Hmmmm . . . (yes, this crossing made me very nervous, especially the transition back to the trail)

Maintaining the PCT is a huge job. I can never give enough kudo’s to all those who help make our travel safer and more enjoyable. We never take it for granted. THANK YOU trail crews!!!! 

Photo credit: Joan

Overgrown and eroded trail in the berry areas is a constant battle for the maintenance crews, where the season is short and the growth the phenomenal. 

Sure enough the weather changed, and we got rain in the late afternoon of our 4th day. I’d come prepared! 

It rained nearly all day our 5th day. 

Occasionally we caught glimpses of what we were missing. See the lake? 

I hiked this section for the spectacular views . . . but sometimes it’s okay to settle for moody images. 

Are we having fun yet? 

When you’re already wet, why not swim? 

The benefit of mucky trails . . . who walks here?

Possibly the most beautiful lake in this section. Oh how I’d like to spend a day there. 

A welcome sight, the Steven’s Pass ski area. 

I can’t say enough positives about the community of Skykomish. From the the hiker friendly Cascadia Inn, to the library with computers, to the deli that not only had yummy food and friendly staff, but even provided a hitching sign (thanks for modeling Delta!). Thanks also to my friend Carol for making our reservation. Gotta love InReach texting!

For more details of our adventure, and more photos of ME, please check out Joan (aka Hemlock) blog posts: 





Special thanks to Taryn, our personal trail angel who stored my car for 3 weeks as well as provided transportation to the trailhead. The logistics of section hiking can be very challenging and Taryn made it easy and gave me peace of mind.


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