We start the day with the satisfaction of being the first ones up in camp and the first ones out, at 7:30AM.
Everything is stunning. The crashing torrent of water at the river, a dozen different types of tiny white flowers, blue-green lakes, the changing views of the mountain as we work our way down and around the circuit. We see more—like, thousands if not millions more—of the graceful yellow-hearted white flowers we started noticing yesterday. (Andrea mentions a similar flower in Italy, called bucaneve, literally “snow hole,” but it turns out these are avalanche lilies.)
It’s good everything’s beautiful, because DAMN this is physically strenuous hiking. We have three rounds of climbing and descent, steep in both directions. I decide that “mileage index” should be a thing, like “heat index”—as in, here’s the distance you’re walking today… but here’s how many additional miles it’s gonna FEEL like you’re walking. This roller coast up and down is subtracting easily 30% from our usual hiking speed and adding what feels like 30% more distance. I take some Vitamin I after lunch.
But the views, y’all. The views are worth it.
We stop to chat with a hiker who says she’s done the trail every summer for fifteen years, taking a photo of the same glacier every year. The glacier is disappearing.
We cross a 150-foot-long, 200-foot-high suspension bridge over Tahoma Creek, the kind that recommends that only one person cross at a time. It. Is. Bouncy.
As much as I chafe at the idea of designated, mandatory campsites in principle, in practice it’s great to have a guaranteed spot when stumbling into camp at 6:30PM, ready to collapse. The bear poles and decent pit toilets are welcome bonuses.
What a day. Over 5,300 feet uphill and 4,170 feet downhill, almost 14 miles.
Monday, July 19, 2021
13.9 miles: 5,320′ up, 4,170’ down
North Puyallup Camp to Devil’s Dream