Chug had decided that he was going to skip to Stehekin, as his knee wasn’t feeling good and the next section is meant to be a tough one. Possibly the toughest on the whole trail. So I found myself by the side of the road hitching to Steven’s Pass alone. I was pretty lucky and caught a ride quickly with Rick and Nathan, driving to Chelan from Seattle. They gave me their number and said I should call if I was in town and needed anything. Great guys.
I was surprised to run into Doc and Colin at the trailhead as I had thought they’d left the day before. They asked after Chug and we chatted for a while until I left them to finish their beers and hiked off up the hill around 1pm. A late start! They had talked about getting 15-20 miles in, but I was doubtful about even hitting the lower end of that before dark.
I met some new people; I was leapfrogging with Foxtrot for part of the afternoon and ran into PopTart and Trout Sniffer at my only water stop before heading up and over Grizzly Peak. Passing over the summit of a mountain is unusual for the PCT, which usually skirts round the side of a hill below the peak. However the efforts to get up there were rewarded by great panoramic views over the Glacier Peak Wilderness.
I passed Shades, Pogo and Chia Pet resting at the top, but knew I was running out of daylight so hurries down the other side without pausing. The campsite I’d spied on the map was very grassy and I rejected it thinking there would be a flat spot by a trail junction a couple of miles further on. I had enough daylight to make it a couple of miles.
Unfortunately the trail junction flat was full of people on a three day backpacking trip, and there was no space for me to pitch a tent. It was getting dark, but I knew Pear Lake was close and I could make it just as night fell if I hurried. It was uphill and I was hiking frantically, so couldn’t feel the cold setting in.
I finally made it to the junction to Pear Lake and could barely make out the letters on the sign in the dark. I dug around in my hip belt pockets and had a moment of fear when I couldn’t find the headtorch that normally lives in there. Luckily Pogo came along with a decent headtorch and I followed him using his beam as I was only a tenth of a mile from camp.
It is a bit of a tent city at Pear Lake with Pogo, Foxtrot, Sketch, PopTart, Chia Pet, Shades, Trout Sniffer and Topper. But I have a flattish spot for my tent and I made it much further than I’d imagined when I left Stevens Pass so I’m pretty happy with life.
Camping: Mile 2494, Pear Lake