October 2nd-6th; Skykomish to Stahekin, WA
This was a very difficult stretch between town stops. As usual we weren’t able to get a good start of town. We were on the trail by 11:30 and had 18 miles planned to do. Part of the difficulty was also the Esther. We had checked the forecast and it loomed like we had some rain for at least the first night but it was very cold, foggy, and rainy for most of those two days.
The other thing was the elevation gain and loss. Everyday we had at least one 3,000 foot ascent and descent and often two. These can be very draining and rough on the body over extended periods (especially the down), so even on 23 mile days we’d be getting in at or after dark.
All that said, we were luck enough that rain, for the most part, held off, amd when the clouds cleared, we had some really spectacular views. Every time we’d crest a ridge and see snow topped mountains and craggy ridge lines covered with he autumn colors od he huckleberry bushes, it really made it feel worth it. You also realize how lucky you are to be out there thinking how there are probably no more than 10 people around within 20 miles in every direction.
One of the hardest days was probably the last before hitting town. There was only one big climb but the first 3 miles had a lot of blowdown of some massive trees (someone had counted the rings ok one and it was over 600 years old) and also a couple hair river crossing across logs. So by 10 o’clock when we’d finally gone across the last crossing, we still had 23 miles to do including a big up and about 10 miles of down.
This stretch in Washington also presented a whole new problem to deal with: mice. The establishes campsites we were setting up at had major rodent problems, and the last two nights, one managed to get in my tent in the middle of the night. The first time resulted in a pretty epic battle as I attempts to get it out. The first time I woke up and heard it was at 2am after jumping out and shaking the tent, I thought it was out. But then, an hour and a half later, it woke me up again. So this time I chased it around trying to scare it out the screen door flap until finally, when it didn’t seem able to to figure out where the door was, I put on mu left glove and reached out and was able to actually grab it and then throw it out of the tent. It wasn’t until the next night, when the same exact thing happened, that I was able to find the whole it had chewed in the mesh of my tent to get in.
After finally getting the mouse our and patching the hole with duct tape, I thought I’d finally get some sleep. It wasn’t until about 1 or 2 hours later though that I woke up and realized with a sigh that during all the commotion, it seemed that there was a small puncture in my therma rest air mattress. Luckily it was small enough that it took a long time to deflate, so I blew it back up and get try to a least get at least a couple hours of sleep before heading to town in the morning, but this was only a temporary solution…
Despite how tough it was, the views in this are, Glacier Mt National Wilderness, really made it worth it, and according to the rest of the group that had hikes from Mexico, they’ve been some of the best on the trail. I was also lucky because I had new shoes for this part since the Merrells I’d been using had been giving me so much trouble. The Vasque Velocities that I ordered from Snoqualmie have really been treating me well and saving me some blister and foot pain issues.