First published on The Trek.
I’ve been keeping a journal of daily highlights while I’ve been hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail and I’d like to share the entry from a very memorable day.
Goat Rocks Wilderness Sunset.
19 August 2022
Mims and I planned a 26 mile day into Packwood but didn’t get up or leave camp particularly early so had quite a chill morning entering the incredibly beautiful area of Goat Rocks Wilderness.
More beautiful than the Sierra with it’s flowers, green valleys and meadows, grand snow capped mountains surrounding us as far as the eye can see. We traversed several ridge lines including a small section of snow.
Water sources were in abundance from snow melt flowing into creeks, streams and straight over the trail. Waterfalls next to the trail forcefully pushing water down the mountains and into huge green valleys showing how much water is streaming through creeks.
There was some kind of alpaca camp on a terrace within a valley, surrounded by mountains. I later found out this was a camp to make hiking and outdoors more accessible for children with autism. This brightened my day to imagine how lovely that experience would be for that group.
The terrain changed throughout the day with lava columns, lava rock, scree, sand, mud, snow, shingle, and then scrambling over larger rocks. Ascending upwards towards Old Snowy Mountain we took the PCT alternate with Detour (the older guy, not my friend from many weeks ago). We didn’t summit as we were feeling tired and knew we had many more miles to do that day although we sat and enjoyed the views for some time.
Knifes Edge Ridge forms part of the PCT and has steep drops either side with quite a narrow loose rock trail. It wasn’t as sketchy as some mountain ridge experiences I’ve had either on the PCT or prior, although very beautiful and perhaps I had become used to heights.
We continued further over and around more ridges, following narrow paths made on the side of rocky mountains. We could see Mt Rainer in the distance and had already passed the view of Mt Anderson in the morning. Back down we went through valleys and green forests. There were many hikers about, only a few of which are PCT thru-hikers. I can now notice the difference between a thru-hiker and a weekend hiker.
Realising we were not going to make the miles into Packwood that day, we settle to find an unmarked campsite on a ridge line facing the sunset over Mt Rainier. WOW. What a view. The clouds were magical and fluffy as the sun cast pink and orange hues above the clouds. Rainier summit was not visible as it was topped with clouds, only its many snow covered ridges could be seen glistening pink in the sunset. Rainier mountain is prominent and huge in the skyline with countless smaller mountain ranges near the cloud line. The clouds are flowing like candy floss waterfalls over these smaller mountains. It was an astonishing sight, like something from a science fiction planet.
We ate our meals in awe at the view and went to sleep with feelings of gratitude for our experience on trail.