WA – PCT Section K . . . as in Killer Klimbs

Dates Hiked:  August 13-18, 2016
Direction: Southbound
Section K: Rainy Pass to Stevens Pass
-Miles: 127
-Elevation: Gain 31,013′ (254 feet/mile), Loss 31,815′ (269 feet/mile)

This section is said to have more elevation gain per mile than any other on the PCT. As one who struggles on climbs, why would I subject myself to such misery? Why the views of course! Anyone who reads this blog knows I LOVE killer landscapes. 

When I’m hiking south on the PCT (aka SOBO, southbound) it always takes me a bit to get oriented as most PCT resources are written for hiking north (aka NOBO, northbound).  Reverse arithmetic, reverse maps, reverse descriptions . . .

While working my way upwards toward views, I was happy to enjoy the wildflowers. 

Bridges were a theme in this section, some showing their age a bit more than others. Hiker gymnastics required!

In many cases the log bridges were in better shape than the more formal structures.

Other times . . . well you just gotta get your feet wet. 

Best sign? (no I don’t condone trail graffiti but you gotta admit it’s pretty funny) 

Speaking of signs, I’d been looking forward to hiking in the North Cascades National Park, so was excited to spend a few miles on those trails. 

While in the park, camping is by permit in established areas which also include a privy. The toilet signs are cute. But in this case, I think the privy was in need of replacement. I wonder if a bear tried to use it? I also want to know about the tradition of the crescent moon as the window on outhouses?

Stehekin is such a little treasure. Arriving at the road crossing, the North Cascades NP bus whisks you to town after first stopping at the famous bakery. I highly recommend the quiche. The general store provided a nice variety, including cold beer. The restaurant had homemade ice cream and yummy meals. There is nearby free camping, plus showers and laundry available, as well as lodging opportunities. Hikers can send packages to the post office or to the Lodge or Ranch if they are staying in those locations. It was hot during our visit, so cooling off in Lake Chelan was another convenient benefit. The ferry or float plane is an option for others to meet you or to escape the trail should the need arise.

One of the other places I’d been excited to experience was Glacier Peak Wilderness. Yippee, I can check that off my list. 

My first view was not of peaks however, it was a glimpse of this black bear.

And then . . . finally what I came to see. 

Experiencing the steep country gave me a who new respect for the North Cascades and for anyone who dares walk these trails under snow-blanketed slopes. 

Now this is my kind of hiking. Ahhhh, the reward of climbing, ridge walking and views. 

I learned quickly, I didn’t like the areas of trail with a lot of berry bush overgrowth as many times the trail had eroded on the downside. I lost concentration at one point and stepped on the edge and quickly found myself hanging off the trail. Thankfully my friend performed a quick rescue by using her poles to pull me back to safety. Yikes! 

Thank you for saving my hide! 

The ferocious biting flies weren’t nice this trip and made much needed breaks less enticing.  Anyone know about these white berries? They tend to be on the same bush as the red berries. Albino? 

This vine intrigued me. Anyone know what it’s called? 

My friend wasn’t feeling well so we turned around before Cloud Pass and didn’t complete the section. I enjoy seeing things from different perspectives, so experiencing the same on another day and time was all good. And as a bonus, I was able to take photos in better light and choose the best one for this post. Besides, I knew I’d be returning to hike this section in a few weeks with Joan and I’d get the opportunity to see it yet from another perspective.

One more experience I can add to my memory books was concluding our trip in style, cruising Lake Chelan. 

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