Leaving Snoqualmie Pass was harder than I imagined it would be. Despite the patchy sunshine there was a definite chill in the air and the damp I associate with autumn hung over the valley. We delayed the inevitable as long as possible: had a lazy morning, a late breakfast and did a good amount of lounging on the sofas in the lobby of the Summit Inn. We also had a great lunch from the Asian-inspired food cart across the parking lot, possibly the best place to eat in this tiny ski village.
It was good to catch up with Doc and we talked about reentering the real world, getting jobs and finding places to live. It’s going to be strange to leave this motley bunch of wilderness-seekers. The people who understand the need to escape, to eat questionable food and experience both mental and physical pain in order to reach the quiet places in the world. We spoke of the extraordinary nature of this journey. I’d never have considered anything that I can do as extraordinary, but looking at it through the eyes of others I have come to appreciate it in a new way. Anybody could do this. It’s hard, for sure, but with enough effort and support almost anybody could do it. But few would. And that’s what makes the people I meet out here extraordinary.
Eventually we got moving, heading up a substantial hill on the opposite side of the interstate. We ran into a number of day hikers returning to their cars at the end of the afternoon, as well as Tank hiking with his cat. He started with her on a leash for the first year but now she just trots along in front of him or sits atop his pack.
The evening got chilly as we approached the top of the ridge, and not for the first time I found myself hiking into camp in my sweater. Reaching the ridge, we got new views into the wilderness and lost the sounds of the highway leaving us with only the wind and the wildlife. The terrain here is much more rugged than the past few hundred miles. The peaks are sharp and jagged and much of the trail is above the tree line. It’s stark but beautiful, some of the most stunning wilderness I’ve seen since the Sierra Nevada along with the Goat Rocks.
We set up camp in an established site by Ridge Lake, and I was disappointed once again to see trash and toilet paper everywhere. Someone had clearly attempted to collect some of the trash but had left the bag tied to a tree where it had been chewed by rodents and the contents had been scattered on the ground. There was too much for me to carry out, but I took what I could.
Camping: Mile 2410, Ridge Lake