Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Day 143: Snoqualmie Pass to Park Lakes Basin

First stop?  The Summit Inn Pancake House, where we saw our friends Piia, Matt, Jennifer, Rachel, Masa, Kanji, and several other familiar faces.  After a delicious breakfast, we headed back to the trailhead (3,030 ft).

The trail climbed steeply through a forest still wet from three days of rain. Wet huckleberry bushes and other overgrown plants soaked our pant legs as we brushed past. We soon climbed to treeline and were treated to views of the surrounding peaks, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

Approaching the crest, we heard a day hiker behind us call "mountain goat!"  Sure enough, a bright, white mountain goat stood out in sharp contrast to the darker rock on the steep hillside. The goat raised his head for a moment, then disappeared into the low, scrubby alpine trees. We spotted a silverback marmot later that day.

The trail followed reached the ridge and narrowed as it traversed the steep hillside in a section the locals referred to as "the catwalk" due to the sharp drop off on the downhill side. The views were incredible, with deep blue alpine lakes set against a backdrop of rugged mountains dotted with snow.

We stayed high, climbing to almost 6,000 feet as we traversed ridges and steep hillsides all afternoon. But when the late afternoon sun slipped behind the eastern ridge, the temperature instantly dropped 10 or 20 degrees and we began to search for camp. We soon found a nice camp in a U-shaped grove of trees and settled in for the night.

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