Monday, November 2, 2020

Day 66: Chuckanut, Chuckanut, Chuckanut....

August 14: I woke up to a beautiful sunrise over Mount Baker. Once again, condensation was an issue during the night and I had thrown my tarp over me like a blanket and it was quite soaked by morning, but except for that minor inconvenience, it had been a good night.

Sunrise over Mount Baker

The morning hours were spent crossing near the top of Anderson Mountain and down the back side. The trail was about evenly split between following gravel logging roads and actual trails, the trails were a bit overgrown and could have used a little maintenance. But! It wasn't bad. Not bad at all... I did have to consult my GPS several times to make sure I was still heading in the correct direction, though, since the PNT wasn't well labeled and I couldn't always be sure of the correct direction to go when trails and roads intersected.

The hiking was pleasant but dull, until I reached the base of Anderson Mountain when the road walking began. Well, logging roads are roads too, but this time it was along busier and paved roads. "Real" roads.

The road was busy but had a nice wide shoulder to walk on so it wasn't too bad or particularly scary. Along the way, I had to cross the street because crews were working on utility lines and had blocked the side of the road I had been walking on, but that wasn't a big deal either.

Then the trail re-entered the woods on a gravel road which eventually turned into a real trail that led to Squires Lake at which point I gave Carianna a call, a friend and fellow letterboxer who lived maybe a 5 minute drive away in the town of Alger. She had told me years ago to do the PNT so she could provide some trail magic when I went by, and I told her that was very unlikely. I didn't have an interest in the PNT because it had so much road-walking and figured I'd probably never get around to doing it.

Hahaha! Oh, sometimes I wished that were true... Being a pandemic year, I wasn't even sure if she had the time or inclination to come out and meet me on the trail, but I knew I'd be in big trouble if I hiked by without at least giving her a head's up so I did. 

And she arrived a few minutes later with a homemade lunch consisting of an Italian sub, potato salad, snickerdoodles and a couple of ice-cold Cokes in a Ziplock bag with ice cubes. =)

A truly magical feast for lunch that could have fed a couple of people =)
 

And it was delicious! And really way too much for one person to eat, but by golly, I made a pretty good attempt at it and actually did manage to cram it all down over the better part of an hour.

My guidebook mentioned something about a spigot for water, but if it was there, I couldn't find it and asked if it was possible to get my water bottles filled up with potable water since she lived so nearby. I didn't want to drink the surface water around these parts--too much farming and civilization. And the water in Squires Lake itself seemed rather stagnant. Nope, I definitely preferred not drinking surface water in this area if I could help it.

She called her husband and asked him to bring some water, and I felt a little bad having to inconvenience him--but clean water was more important. (I did get sick from bad water last year, after all!)

We had a nice time chatting, but keeping our distance from each other due to the pandemic. Carianna wore a mask, but I had to take mine off to eat. I can't thank her (and her husband) enough, though!

But eventually she had to leave--she had made plans earlier to take a trip starting today and needed to get going. And I still had some miles left to hike, so we parted ways. It was fun to have a visitor on the trail, though, even if it was for only an hour or so.

I left so full, I ate absolutely nothing else for the rest of the day and then skipped dinner in the evening. I did eat a cheese and beef stick and a few Skittles near sunset, mostly out of habit than because of any real hunger.

Then I continued my hike, this time following a paved road for a few miles, passing under Interstate 5 until finally getting back onto gravel logging roads.

 

The bridge up ahead is Interstate 5. Somehow, passing I-5 seemed like a major milestone to me, and this was pretty much the closest I would get to Seattle on my hike. There might be other places where I'm closer (as the crow flies), but driving time, I think this marks my closest approach to Seattle. Now I'll be hiking away from home.

The logging roads eventually led to actual trails, which led up and around Chuckanut Mountain, and I really enjoy how the word Chuckanut sounds. Chuckanut, Chuckanut, Chuckanut.... =)

So anyhow.... after I stopped saying the word Chuckanut over and over again, I got back to hiking. At the end of the day, I detoured off the official PNT for a side trip to the top of Oyster Dome that everyone seems to rave about. Amanda did, Carianna did, and my guidebook did.

And the views from the top really are breathtaking! It's a viewpoint overlooking Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands, and in the distance rose the Olympic Mountains. The end of the PNT, I thought, is just on the other side of those mountains. 

And I decided to set up camp right there at the viewpoint. It was busy with people when I arrived, and a steady stream of people continued to arrive throughout the late afternoon. Often times the people arriving are huffing and puffing and complaining about how much the hike was hurting them. I wanted to joke, "Well, at least you didn't have to hike in from Montana!" but I figured that would probably lead to more questions than I really wanted to answer so I kept my mouth shut. =)

The view from Oyster Dome is awesome! There's definitely a reason it's such a popular hike.

The hour or so before sunset, the hoards of people started to thin out. For a brief while, I thought I had the mountain all to myself when three guys with large backpacks arrived. Are they planning to camp at the top too? I decided to start setting up camp just under the trees and grab my spot before anyone else could.

But there was nothing to fear. They weren't planning to spend the night, but rather were training for a Wonderland Trail thru-hike in a couple of weeks. Having done the Wonderland Trail (more than once, no less), we talked about that and other great trails in the area.

They stayed around to watch the sunset, then pulled out their headlamps and started hiking back and I finally had the mountain all to myself.

After it started getting really dark, two mice tried to sneak up on me. It didn't work, I was reading my Kindle and wide awake at the time so I heard their approach from a mile away and I shooed them off, but for how long? And what would happen once I fell asleep....? Hmm....

 

The trails down Anderson Mountain could have used a little TLC.

The trail is entering civilization again.... There's going to be a lot of civilization for the next several days.

Crews working on a utility line.

It's always nice when I come to a marked trail with actual PNT waymarks! =)

Squires Lake

Letting lunch digest a bit.


I actually saw an owl on Chuckanut Mountain. So I snapped this photo of it. If you can find it, then you did better than I could because I have no idea where in this photo that owl went. It was deep in the shade and my camera just couldn't snap a clear shot to save my life.

Lizard Lake

Always a good sign--it's code for "beautiful views ahead." =)

Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands, and the Olympic Mountains in the hazy distance

A beautiful sunset! I'll also point out, I believe the sun is actually setting over Vancouver Island from this point of view, so that's actually Canada in the distance. But I can't go even if I wanted to because the border is closed due to the pandemic.

I'm enjoying the sunset. =)
 

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