Day 142: The Natural World at its Finest 

142. August 30: Mile 2262.10 Campsite to Mile 2284.20 Hidden Spring
What a day. Probably the most beautiful day of hiking I’ve ever experienced. The hike to Cispus Pass was surprising. We crested a ride and wham! Just breathtaking views of this gorgeous valley with weathered rocky cliffs. As we continued on we spotted a massive black bear darting down the slop of the pass! We’ve seen bear before, but not been able to look at them for long periods of time. 

After cresting pass we were treated to even more great views. I can’t even begin to describe them with my limited vocabulary so hopefully these pictures can partially do them justice. We climbed and descended multiple times today. Each ascent resulted in wondrous scenes of mountains and valleys. At one point we could see both Mt. Adams in great detail along with St. Helens off in the distance, then just around the corner we were treated to our first view of Mt. Rainier. Spectacular! Everything here is so stunning. 

In the shadow of Rainier, we followed the sketchy ride trail that was made up of loose skree with occasional short snow traverses. We then hiked along the top pf this jagged ridge with really steep uphills and downhills. It felt like we were on another planet. At the base of this ridge top trail we met a few other hikers and one of them turned out to be the famous Optimistic Turtle. Well, she’s trail famous. She has been putting comments on both the water report and on all waypoints on the Guthook app. So we have been heeding her advice and using her updated information this entire hike. 

Shortly after beginning our descent from the ridge top, we had enough service to check the fire conditions around Mt. Rainier and sure enough, the PCT is closed basically between White Pass where we’re going into town tomorrow and for all purposes, Snoqualmie Pass. It’s actually only a 52 mile closure, but without looking too much into it yet, the easiest place to get back on would be Snoqualmie Pass by way of skipping about 100 miles which is equivalent to roughly five days at our pace. It sucks, but it’s just the hand we’ve been dealt. This whole year has been a shit year to try to hike this thing. The insane snowfall this past winter obviously caused the havoc in the Sierras, making that section a nightmare or undoable depending on who you are and it also has made basically Northern California on up through Oregon and Washington a pain in this ass too with all of the fires. It’s counterintuitive, but what happens is the higher than average snow generates higher than average water runoff which grows higher than average amounts of vegetation. So when the late summer hits and the land hasn’t received rain fall in months and everything is dried out, it burns easily and will decimate larger than normal portions of the forest. So not only have we had to deal with an enormous snow year, we’ve had to deal with excessive amounts of fires too. Bleh. At least this may give us a chance to catch up with Dr. McDirty and Cougar. 
Once we got to camp we were both ravenously hungry. This section has taken a bit longer than either of us anticipated so upon opening up my food bag I was left with a packet of ramen, a quarter cup of Chex mix, some sun dried tomatoes, and a Belvita bar. I was able to add a few tablespoons of ranch dressing Glowworm had leftover as well as a Nature Valley bar she was willing to part with, but needless to say, I’m going to bed hungry. All I have now for the eight mile hike to White Pass tomorrow is the 230 calorie Belvita bar. I am going to devour, unhinged, everything in site at this convenience store once we get there around lunch. 

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