|The weather looked threatening when I woke up in the morning.|
Noga and Daredevil caught up with me about an hour later, which surprised me. Noga I knew was somewhere in the area since we got into Snoqualmie Pass the same day, and assumed she was behind me somewhere since none of the southbound hikers I passed had mentioned seeing her. I figured with my early morning start, though, it seemed unlikely that anyone would catch up to me.
But I returned the surprise when I snuck up behind them. I was off to the side of the trail doing some "important business" and they passed by not even seeing me. (Definitely a good thing!) So when I caught up with them again, they couldn't figure out how I got behind them. They knew I was just up ahead--they stopped to talk to Ed from Issaquah at the ridge top where I camped and he told him I was up ahead. They expected to catch up to me--they didn't expect me to sneak up behind them! =)
I passed Noga and Daredevil a couple of times throughout the morning. The trail was steep, rocky, and muddy, and views were few. I told the girls that I was going to contact the PCTA to complain about the conditions. "I explicitly asked for no mud and no rain, and there has been huge quantities of that!" Noga got into the spirit and added, "Yes, and not enough trail magic!"
Take that, PCTA! =)
We passed the AmeriCorps workers, one of which had offered me up a lighter the evening before, and they appeared to be building a turnpike. It was hard to tell, though. It was either a turnpike, or they were mud wrestling. The two activities seemed largely interchangeable. We didn't stop very long to talk and distract them, though. We pushed on.
I plopped down and drank a Coke, and started making phone calls and checking e-mail--I could get a signal! I had hoped Amanda was in Seattle and could drive out to visit me. Stevens Pass isn't that far out from Seattle, and I would have loved if she could pick me up and drive us down to Leavenworth to the east. I'd never been to Leavenworth before--a Bavarian village about 30 miles to the east. Most hikers hitch down to Skykomish to the west to resupply. Leavenworth was a little further away in the opposite direction, but it also seemed more interesting. In any case, Amanda was in North Carolina trying to clean out their mom's house before the sale was official, and she wouldn't be around for another visit.
I didn't want to bother with getting a ride off of Stevens Pass and back, so I planned to hike through. Absolutely everyone I had talked to recently planned to resupply at Stevens Pass, but not I. Nope, I'd push on. If Amanda was around, though, I'd have gotten off for a side trip to Leavenworth. Another day, another time.... (Amanda and I did drive out to Leavenworth a month or so later, after I had finished the trail, but that's another story....)
While drinking my Coke, making phone calls, and checking e-mail, Rising Sun and Em arrived. Another couple of people I had no idea were so close behind me. And finally Epic arrived, but I knew he wasn't far behind me.
They worked on getting rides down to Skykomish, and I dared the weather gods by pushing on.
I crossed Highway 2 and followed the trail along what appeared to be an old railroad grade. A few years ago, Amanda and I read a book, The White Cascade, describing the worst avalanche in American history killing 96 people, right here near the summit of Stevens Pass, a hundred years earlier. The original Cascade Tunnel, four miles long, lurked somewhere under my feet, and a newer Cascade Tunnel still in use today, seven miles long, lurked somewhere below that. But before either of those tunnels, there was another track that crossed the very summit of Stevens Pass, and I wondered if the PCT was following that original track. It could have been an old logging road, but it had such a gentle grade, it made me think that it was built for trains.
|Daredevil (in front) and Noga (in back).|
And look at how muddy this trail is!
After the disaster, they build a concrete snow shed to protect against future avalanches, along with several dozen miles of wooden snow sheds along the train route. The exorbitant cost of maintaining the sheds finally led to the second Cascade Tunnel a thousand feet lower through the pass and bypassing the town of Wellington completely. The old railroad line has since been turned into a hiking trail with interpretive displays--an absolutely fascinating hike. The concrete snow shed is still standing, but the wooden ones have long since fallen into a jumble. The first Cascade Tunnel is still there, but is no longer safe to enter. And all that is left of the town of Wellington are foundations of where building used to be.
Pinnacle Lake Trail murders. A mom and her daughter, off hiking for the afternoon, and shot to death for no apparent reason. Those didn't happen on the PCT, but I wasn't hiking that far away from where those killings happened either, and those killings were still unsolved. The killer could still be out there, hiking the same trails.
And I started wondering, what would I do if I discovered the bodies of two women, dead on the trail, still warm, with bullet holes in them? My cell phone worked at Stevens Pass and I could call for help there, but it could take hours to hike out to cell phone reception. And would it even be safe to do so? If I knew there was a killer on the trail, following trails didn't seem like a good idea. And it was starting to rain. Would that wash away important evidence before the police arrived? Would it be better to cover the bodies with my tarp, or would that screw up any evidence that the killer might have left behind? I should probably be careful not to disturb any footprints that were in the area. Given how muddy the trails were, some of them undoubtedly would have belonged to the killer. Oh! Of course! I should take lots of pictures! If I left to contact the authorities, animals could move the bodies around and destroy evidence. The rain could destroy footprints. I should use my camera, take photos of everything, then go for the police.
Wow, my mind was really running morbid today, and I started freaking myself out a little. This is just the kind of weather a killer would like. Dark, cold, and wet. Around every turn, I started thinking I'd run into a killer. As it turned out, I ran into absolutely nobody. Probably just as well. If I did bump into an innocent hiker out for the day, I might have screamed. =) Nope, once I left Stevens Pass, I saw absolutely nobody.
So I stopped at Janus Lake for the day, at 4:30 in the afternoon--in extraordinarily early end to the day. Because of my early start, though, I still pulled in a solid 21 miles of hiking for the day, and didn't find a single dead body that entire distance. =)
That gave me several hours light to read, and I hunkered down under my tarp to whittle away the rest of the afternoon. I read Agatha Christie all afternoon, which did not help my morbid state of mind at all. In particular, there was a story called The Dressmaker's Doll, and it would give me nightmares all night long. I still get goosebumps thinking about that story. Creepy, evil little doll.
To say I was a little on edge would be an understatement. Then, a little after sunset, I felt something jump onto me. I was in my sleeping bag, writing in my journal, and something alive jumped onto my legs. I about wet myself, kicking hard. I tried to aim my headlamp to see what mysterious creature of the night would attack me while I was still awake, but I didn't see anything. It was out there, though. It was watching me. It probably wanted my food.
I didn't sleep well at all.....
|The trail passes the ski resort at Stevens Pass.|
|Skid Road, or Crest Trail? Decisions, decisions...|
I'll take Crest Trail for $400, Alex! =)
|Stevens Pass, here I come!|
|I'm absolutely baffled why there was a metal plate in the trail here.|
|This was my view for an hour or so as I tried to wait out the rain|
under the protection of a large, overhanging rock.
|Janus Lake, and the view from my campsite.|