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PCT 2015 Day 129: Goat Rocks and Wildlife Failures

  • Start: 2,263.4
  • End: 2,287.4
  • Miles: 24.0
  • Camp: After Tieton Pass Junction

It was cold and damp first thing, and I’m getting to know that this is the new normal now we’re in Washington. I walked extra quietly through the forest listening for elk since hearing Andy say yesterday he’d seen fifty before breakfast. No elk.

After a very short flat section, we started to climb up towards Cispus Pass and I was able to warm up again. As we climbed, we had a mixture of mountain meadows and wide open views of Mount Adams. The rocks above our heads looked like the columnar basalt of Devil’s Postpile but much paler. In a way far more enjoyable than the Devil’s Postpile for the remoteness.

The rocks also reminded me that this is prime marmot territory. As we walked, I looked up and down the hill in the hope of seeing at least one, basing my hopes on the hundreds we had seen in the similar landscape of the high Sierra. No marmots.

At the bottom of a short descent, we came to an open bowl with rivers and rocks. A beautiful spot for an early lunch, with a view of Mount St Helens in the distance. It doesn’t have snow on it, being only c.8,000ft tall after the eruption in 1980.

Climbing up to Old Snowy, the hill became steep and exposed so it was hot but thankfully it also remained breezy and the ascent was fairly fast: we took an alternate route near the top and scrambled almost another 1,000ft up to Knife’s Edge where we were rewarded with 360 views to Mt Adams, Mt St. Helens and Mt Rainier. It was completely breathtaking and I saw clearly why people rate the Goat Rocks section so highly. We sat to eat lunch and enjoy the view, despite the wind. Jaywalk and Thinmint had taken the alternate as well but added to it and went all the way to the summit of Old Snowy. I watched instead.

The descent off the ridge was knee shattering but stunning. I watched birds soaring beneath me and listened to the rushing of the water melting from the glaciers flanking the peak. Jaywalk has been to Goat Rocks many times before and had told us earlier about the goats that live in the area. We saw poop on the ground and looked all around for goats as we came down the ridge. No goats.

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