WA – PCT Section K . . . as in Kaleidoscope (of weather)

Dates Hiked:  September 4-13, 2016
Direction: Northbound
Section K: Stevens Pass to Rainy Pass
-Miles: 127
-Elevation: Gain 31,815′ (269 feet/mile), Loss 31,013′ (254 feet/mile)

What a great way to start our day. Thank you Anish for sharing our first few miles of Section K. It was so much fun chatting and getting to experience YOUR favorite section of the PCT with YOU!

Another new wilderness for me . . .

I’m not really sure what happened, but it appears I didn’t take any additional photos on our first day of this section. I can’t imagine it had anything to do with our Anish distraction 🙂  According to my notes this was one of the best berry picking areas, so in honor of that, here’s a visual of the way we spent many miles hiking. Swoop, swipe, eat, repeat . . .

Morning dawned a day of fog and clouds, but NO rain! 

This section had a LOT of BIG house sized rocks. 

I absolutely LOVE the visual impact of a meandering trail. Where am I going? Where did I come from? 

Ut oh, those sure look like rain clouds. Not easy to forget you’re in Washington with active sky reminders.

Definitely a bucket list destination for this cherry picker. I could only hope for clear skies . . . 

As suspected, those clouds indeed held rain and around midnight I awoke to the first drops. Although a clear day was a fantasy not be be realized, I preferred the fog to drizzle and downpours. 

This 7:30am tease of blue sky gave me optimism. 

The swirling mist gave me more optimism of clear views in the coming hours. 

The 7:45am view cemented my belief in this bluebird day.

At 8am the sun spotlighted this view, one of the highlights of this section. 

By 8:30am, we were left to imagine what we were missing, and my optimism quickly waned. 

Without views, I could still appreciate the wildflower displays. 

After bushwhacking through berry bushes and playing in the downfall jungle gym, I’m always appreciative of a well manicured trail. 

This mountain was HUGE but we only got this one glimpse before it disappeared again. Who are you? Glacier Peak by chance?

The moodiness of this creek suited the day. 

Can you imagine witnessing the collapse of this mountain? Notice the bridge at the bottom left of the photo.

Earlier in the season, this would be a quite treacherous crossing. 

This was a HUGE active nest next to the trail. I’d say it was 6″x12″. Wasp nest? Hornets?

Oh glacier how I want to see you. 

Both Joan and I are feeling a bit grumpy about the weather. Being wet and chilled takes the fun out of backpacking. Thankfully, we’d both successfully kept our sleep systems dry despite the back-to-back days of wet dank conditions (tips will follow in a future post). 

Guess swimming is out today. 

In these conditions, the reds really pop.

A tiny bit of sun, makes me and my feet happy. 

We came upon two thru-hiker gals working to put out a smoldering campfire they’d come across. We gave them all our water since our next water source was nearby. THANK YOU!!! It was ironic that this incident was directly below a sign indicating a fire-related trail closure. 

BLUE skies and the yellow orb really do exist! 

FROST! The price for bluebird skies is colder temperatures. I’ll take cold over wet any day. 

I’ve always called these glacial cirques, but when Joan used the term amphitheater, I thought how much more perfect. This area is home to the marmots and pikas, two of my favorite furry creatures. 

The natural resupply for this section is Stehekin. This was my third time in Stehekin over the past month (more details to follow). Just like Skykomish, I can’t say enough positives. I truly loved this area, especially the Ranch where Joan and I spent a night in this cute little bungalow. 

We met lots of hikers and other visitors. One thru-hiker who really stood out was No Skip who thinks my new trail name should be HighLighter, since I’m a self-declared cherry picker and all. It fits me, but it’s so hard to change after all these years. I’m considering it though. What do you think? His blog post about Joan and I is worth a read. We also had time to chat with two gals we’d been leapfrogging with on trail, Alexandria and Christina. We both regretted not getting their contact info (please contact us if you are reading this). Meals are served family style at the Ranch and we had the best visit with Doug and Mary-Ann, a couple from Bellingham who we’d both like to connect with again in the future (hope you got my email).

As we said goodbye to Section K, we were greeted by Brian, a trail angel and hubby of a thru hiker. He was providing early morning trail magic. THANK YOU Brian!

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

 

 

 

 

Related Links:

Photo credit: Joan

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