Saturday, September 5, 2009

PCT, Day 1: These Boots Are Made For Walkin' (Not)

After our last significant breakfast for several days at the Squirrel Tree Inn, Kelly, Lupe and I proceeded to Stevens Pass to begin the final portion of their trip down the Pacific Crest Trail from Canada. They have a cabin at Snoqualmie Pass, the southern terminus of their trip, and I would be joining them for this last leg.

Parked the Highlander (the "golf cart on steriods," as Kelly would say), with the requisite Northwest Forest Pass, at Stevens Pass at 10 a.m. Hiked up 2 miles through the Stevens Pass Ski Area over the ridge to the upper Mill Creek Valley where the 115 KV lines from Rocky Reach Dam provide the electrical lifeblood for Seattle and vicinity. Didn't take long for trouble to develop: the Vibram sole from my left boot came completely off as we crossed the upper part of Mill Creek.

These Montrail Moraines were rather expensive backpacking/climbing boots, and even though they were purchased back in 2000, I had worn them only a couple of dozen times. Despite the loss of the sole, the boot seemed serviceable, and I felt I could continue our trek. "Why don't you leave them here and come back for them later?" Lupe asked. "Nah," I replied, "I'll just pack them out."

Shortly after crossing Mill Creek, we passed the boundary sign for the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. I have looked forward to hiking this stretch of the PCT ever since I worked on temporary assignment as a writer/editor on the Alpine Lakes Planning Team at the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Supervisor's Office in Seattle in 1979-80. The 394,000-acre wilderness derives its name from the nearly 700 jewel-like lakes -- like Lake Susan Jane (above) and Mig Lake (below) -- nestled among high rock peaks and timbered valleys of the region.

After a delightful -- though taxing -- hike of 12-miles, a Pacific storm with a potential for lightning moved into the region, so we established camp at Trap Lake and called it a day. I set up my tent, rolled out the Thermarest and sleeping bag, popped a couple of Motrin and packed it in.

"REI is going to hear about these boots," I thought to myself, slipping into a deep slumber.

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