Snoqualmie to Spectacle Lake, PCT. August 28 and 29, 2016

On August 28, 2016, I packed up WAY too much gear and headed to the PCT parking lot on Snoqualmie Pass.  The lot was completely full, but after 30 minutes of waiting, someone left and I took their spot.  10 minutes later I was on the trail, it was noon and the weather was spectacular.

 

My pack was WAY too heavy.  I had packed for about a 5 day trip, thinking that if everything went well, I may just end up at Stevens Pass.  That didn’t happen.

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The trail was full of people heading home.  I caught and passed a few on the way up to Kendall Katwalk, which took just over two hours.  I was moving too fast.  But I kept going.  My plan was to end up either at Glacier Lake or Spectacle Lake.  I knew it was going to be a push, but I was feeling good.

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This is looking back towards Snoqualmie Pass/Alpental, just prior to the Katwalk.

 

This is the entrance to the famous Kendall Katwalk.  It’s pretty cool.  There were a few folks hanging out here- it’s a popular place to turn around and head back to the pass.

 

This is the ridge just to the NW of the Katwalk.  It’s pretty amazing.

I decided to just keep walking.  The views were beautiful and the temperature was perfect for a good strong walk.  I traversed the east side of the Collar Mountain and between Ridge and Gravel Lakes.

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This was a pretty common view.  A beautiful lake viewed off the edge of a steep cliff.  The PCT is not for someone who is afraid of heights.  It’s not particularly dangerous, but if standing above a 2000 foot cliff and looking over the edge is something you don’t like, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Looking at this for hours is not a bad thing.

 

Passed Alaska Lake, over Alaska Mountain and between Edds Lake and Joe Lake.  I believe this is looking north towards Edds Lake.

 

This is between Huckleberry and Chickamin Peaks.  It’s the furthest north I went and it seemed like a HUGE detour to get around the Gold Creek drainage.

This is looking back toward Joe Lake after traversing under the Four Brothers.  This was a pretty intense traverse- the trail was cut through a huge scree field.  I can’t imagine trying to find it in any snow conditions.

 

This is Park Lake.  By the time I got here, it was 6 pm and I had been hiking hard for 6 hours.  I was thinking I should probably stop at Park Lake, but…I kept going.

I descended to the trail that splits off the PCT and goes to Glacier Lake, but I wasn’t liking the look of the trail, so I walked over and took at look at Spectacle Lake from above.

 

It looked pretty great, and I figured I could get there in about an hour.  My knees were getting pretty sore, but I just couldn’t stop.

 

I arrived at the Spectacle Lake and found a nice flat (albeit hard) place to put my tent.  It had actually taken me about 2 more hours to get down there.  I was pretty hurting by then.  19 miles in 8 hours with some significant descents.  I set up my tent, filtered water out of the lake and ate some dinner.

The stars were unbelievable.  There was absolutely no light pollution up there and the clouds had cleared.  The only human influences up there were the other campers (sparse) and an occasional plane that flew overhead.  It was spectacular and I slept terribly.  The ground was too hard.  It wasn’t a great camping spot from that standpoint.  The view was spectacular though:

 

The next morning was gorgeous.  It was relatively cold, but as I sat and ate breakfast, I felt pretty happy to be there.

Here’s a screen shot of where my camping spot was:

 

 

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Based on the condition of my knees, I knew there was no way I could do 55 more miles.  So, I packed up my gear (again, WAY too heavy) and headed back up towards Park Lake.

I hit the head on the way out of the campground.  Yeah.  It had been used A LOT this summer.  Pretty nasty.

 

Heading up towards Park Lake, I grabbed this photo of Spectacle Lake with some amazing peaks in the background.

 

This is pretty much what a lot of the trail looked like.  It’s incredible to me that there are THOUSANDS of miles of this trail- and that people built them.  What an unbelievable undertaking.  I can’t imagine the amount of work it took.

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This was part of the traverse under the Four Brothers.  You can see that there are some portions of the trail that are a bit exposed.

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I believe that is Joe Lake with Mount Thompson behind.  I wasn’t exactly sure at this point because I was a bit knackered.

I arrived back at my car in pretty bad shape.  My knees and hips were killing me.  My toes were relatively trashed and I had some blisters, for sure.  38 miles with that much weight and all the vertical hiking made me realize that I’m no longer 25 years old.  But I can’t wait until next summer to do something just like it!  (Maybe I’ll take a few more days and only do 15 miles per day)!