poop, celebrities and subalpine hanging on PCT - WA North Cascades
Last weekend, my wife and I and 2 dogs (Crazy J and Big D) hiked the Pacific Crest Trail north from Rainy Pass on the North Cascades Highway in northwest Washington state.
It was hot and sunny on the hike up. I was worried about the dogs. They need as much water as a Southeast Asia water buffalo. Luckily, most of the creeks were still flowing so the dogs had enough water to make it up to 6800 foot Cutthroat Pass. There were some wildflowers still flowering but not quite as many as 3 weeks ago.
This is the drier part of the Cascades. No big glaciers on this side. There was a little snow but none on the trail.
South of Cutthroat Pass the PCT levels off and stays high to a small gap in a rocky ridge. Wham! an amazing view at the gap above Granite Pass.
There's pretty much no water from Cutthroat Pass to about 1 mile south of the junction with Snowy Lakes. Crazy J's tongue was dry, cherry red and about a foot long but he hung in there with the blazing heat and sun.
We set up camp on the PCT at the junction of the boot trail up to Snowy Lakes. I pitched the Hennessy Backpacker A-sym between the thickest, most solid subalpine fir trees around. I tied the stock HH tarp over a Kelty Triptease ridgeline thinking that would improve coverage. I was wrong. It offset the tarp centerline from the hammock ridgeline. So I just tied the ends of the HH stock tarp to the tree in addition to the ridgeline clips. This seems to reduce tarp sag substantially.
Then we hiked further on the PCT up to Methow Pass.
We hiked back down to camp for nice sunset light on Tower Mountain towering above
and illuminating the peaks beyond.
This evening I noticed Crazy J disappeared for a little too long behind the subalpine fir, mountain hemlock and Engelmann spruce trees. Before bedtime my wife came back from the tent angry and disgusted. Crazy J discovered and dug up a cathole. She said his filthy mouth stunk up the whole tent with the foul, repulsive stench of rotten human feces. :eek::mad: For punishment, Crazy J was banished from sleeping in the LL Bean Microlight 2 tent with my wife and Big D to sleeping under the HH by himself. Too bad we left his wool sweater from Peru at home. We figured he'd get too warm with it in the tent.
Upon further inspection, we saw that there were a lot of catholes just on the other side of the trees, most of them poorly dug and close to water with protruding TP. :mad: People can be so lazy and thoughtless. All they had to do was go for a 5 minute walk, spend a few minutes digging and go away from water. :mad:
That night it stayed warm; probably never dropped down below 50 degrees. About 6 am I was re-awakened by gusty winds and a few drops hitting the tarp. The wind was so strong it blew around the subalpine firs my hammock was tied to. This wasn't so bad since it rocked the HH, kind of like rocking a baby to sleep in a cradle. We could also smell the faint smoke of a wildfire off to the east.
The weather improved after breakfast. There were some amazing views west to the peaks of North Cascades National Park which we could not see the day before due to glare from intense sun, heat haze and the sun's position in the sky.
Just a little north of Granite Pass, two thruhiker looking guys approached. The first said something like "I know you from somewhere. I'm Tattoo Joe". Nope, we've never met. But I knew who the other one was. It was Scott Williamson. They were about ready to break the PCT unassisted record for a PCT thruhike. They hike 35 - 40 miles a day! Their packs were tiny. I'm still perplexed on how they get their packs so small and light. My weekend food bag was bigger than their packs. They were really nice. We chit-chatted for a little bit then went our ways. They liked Crazy J. I had to mention how he digs up catholes. They chuckled.
It cleared up on the hike out and it was not as hot and sunny as the day before so it was a nice hike.
The whole hike was about 25 miles round trip with detours up to Methow Pass and Lower Snowy Lakes. The PCT has a pretty mellow slope so we only went from 4800 to 6800 feet elevation. If it weren't for all the poorly-buried feces, feces-eating dog and nearly-record breaking heat, it would've been a perfect trip.