We left the strangely well-populated Dewey Lake early, and soon came upon highway 410 at Chinook Pass, a major route into Mount Rainier National Park. There were already lots of cars there and we could see where the weekenders had come from. It also had an outhouse. Luxury.
Not far along the hillside we came to Sheep Lake, also popular with day hikers. We stopped to eat second breakfast and enjoy the views before climbing steeply out of the lake bowl. Once on the top of the ridge we could see ski runs across the valley to one side, and thick forests and lakes to the other. However the ridge was dry and we kept hiking until we hit a small spring before stopping for lunch. The spring was one of the slowest I’ve found on this trail, but the water was cold and clear so it was worth the wait.
Under a nearby tree we saw Doc back on trail after 10 days off in Seattle. He wasn’t feeling it, having enjoyed his rest and jumped straight back into a tough section, but it was nice to see him again. As we ate lunch I confused myself with the mathematics of water bottles. It was possible to fill a 1l bottle from a 1l bag, and still have some leftover. And it was possible to fill the 1l bag twice from a 2l bag and still have some left over. Someone has their sums all wrong.
In the afternoon the trail tracked along the hill then back into the forest. As I rested briefly on a log, I noticed the sunlight illuminating a spider web hanging between two trees. I looked again a moment later and it was invisible again, the sunlight having shifted, and I was reminded how things can so often be a product of fortuitous timing.
We stopped for the night at Urich Cabin owned by a snowmobile club but commandeered by trail “devils” Josh, Jake and Matt. They had been firefighters and helpers in New York for 9/11 and every year they come to the cabin for a few days on the anniversary and help out hikers. They had stories of camps held at Forest Road 70 (the “lost goat camp”) and at Urich Cabin (“Camp Vortex”) and offered to make us dinner. Josh cooked up French Onion Soup and his experience in a restaurant was evident. There were 5 hungry hikers who had mostly already eaten their own dinners, but there was no soup left at the end of the evening. They offered breakfast as well but it is late so we aren’t planning on staying. It is called Camp Vortex though…
Camping: Mile 2356, Mike Urich Cabin