June 24 (~11:00 – ~18:30)
FS Road 23 / Trout Lake – Killen Creek (15.7 mi / Total: 2245.0 mi)
Total PCT miles: 1145.0
Weather: The air is cold but the sun is warm. It’s sunny but gets more cloudy in the afternoon.
I have a relaxing start, eat breakfast at the café with Raili and RonForNow, pick up a coffee from next door and find myself standing next to an empty road just after 10, to hitch back to the trail. It’s so quiet I’ve just started calling trail angels when James stops his van, his young daughter in the back. They’re about to go camping next to a lake with the family. It proves to be another great ride back to the trail, and I get going again at 11. I’m planning a 15 mile day, of which about 10 should be through the Mt Adams snow.
The trail starts the same again. A consistent ascend through the forest. As I get closer to Mt Adams, the forest is burnt, silver trees creating an ever-present vertical presence. It’s sad, and repetitive, and I keep on climbing higher and higher, but the snow doesn’t start. According to the snow map, a thick pack should follow the trail for about 15 miles as it skirts around the mountain, but so far there’s nothing. I climb higher, over 5000 ft, over 5500 ft, over 6000 ft. Then small patches of old snow appear, randomly covering the trail. Clearly more snow has melted since the last satellite images, and I wonder what that means for Goat Rocks.
I’m starting to think I’ll be fine to get through this entire section, that the snow is on its way out, when I receive a message from RonForNow. The hiker who went in some days ago apparently never made it through Goat Rocks, and had to abandon his effort due to exhaustion. The message is unclear, and the story about the hiker himself also seems a little strange. I can’t fully trust this but still, maybe I won’t be able to do it after all. I’m annoyed. A detour would add another day to my itinerary. I just want to walk.
RonForNow adds that he and Raili have decided to flip around this bit for now, and they’re getting a car up to White Pass. I’m alone on this trail now. I like to hike solo but I’d love to run into some people now and again, to know I’m not out here completely on my own. All I have are two footsteps that I’ve been following, and I don’t know how far they’ll go.
I have a quick lunch and continue through the high land of rocks and trees and burnt forest. It’s beautiful up here, and everywhere are meadows – they are my favourite. After some time the snow patches get more regular, and they grow. I use my poles, although I never put on my microspikes, threading across carefully, as fast as I can.
Despite my late start, I can’t wait to finish. I feel as though I have walked a long day already, even though I really haven’t, and I struggle to finish the day. I wonder why this happens, is it mere boredom? When I finally reach the meadow where I plan to camp I take ages to find a suitable spot. I set up under some trees, and hope the grey skies don’t grow thicker and dangerous during the night. I can’t help but kind of worry about the coming days.