September 25th; 24 miles
Cowbell Lake to Chinook Pass
Rained all through the night, so it wasn’t fun putting away a wet tent, but when I finally got packed up, it actually looked like I might get an actual clear day of hiking.
Barrel Roll had another friend from work who lived an hour from the trail at Chinook Pass. Apparently he had offered to take all 9 of us in to his home and host us for the night. So we aimed to do the 24 miles by 6 o’clock.
The weather did actually stay clear all day, and we actually got our first views of Mount Rainier, a gorgeous, snow and glacier covered volcano. It was impossible to miss as it just shot up from among the evergreen covered ridges that surround it (and cover most of the wilderness of Washington state).
BR’s friend Jon and his family were incredible. We managed to get all 9 of us and our packs into his Explorer. We were greeted by Jon’s wife, 2 kids (a 2 year old girl and 4 year old boy), and some friends and their 5 kids, not to mention an amazing pasta dinner with pumpkin pie for dessert.
We all talked for a while around the dinner table, introducing ourselves, our backgrounds, and talking about the trail. Soon it was time for laundry, showers, and, finally, sleep. In the morning, another incredible meal: scrambled eggs, bacon, fruit, bear sausage (yes, the animal, sausage from a bear), and homade coffee cake, with fresh OJ and coffee.
After all that, it was time to pack up. Jon actually works as a rep for the pack company, Jansport. At one point, he pulled out some prototypes to show us. Turns out they could use a test run and asked if anyone wanted to try it out and hike the rest of the way with it. So, after the wonderful stay, I even got a new pack for the rest of my hike!