Dearest perusers of this blog…as promised, Northern Washington has been quite remote. I’m happy to report that I’ve found some cell service finally and hope to start posting once again! My apologies for the delay. All is well though and my journey continues…
Blueberries For Stevie
Beginning Elevation = 4,000 (On PCT) Ending Elevation = 4,850
Elevation Range = 3,800 – 5,550
Weather: Mostly sunny, turned cloudy, high 80°F, cooled down in evening
Our morning activities were somewhat split amongst the group. I joined TW at the Renaissance Cafe for some delicious breakfast wraps and coffee, but Calzone and Cheer each did their own thing. After having a difficult time finding an inexpensive breakfast joint (Leavenworth isn’t exactly hopping in the morning hours), we were both quite impressed with the restaurant we’d discovered once there and sitting down. I also beat TW soundly in a skirmish of Connect 4 whilst waiting for our food.
One of the great things about hiking along with Cheer and Calzone, apart from their joyous companionship, is that they’re great at planning ahead. They usually have a solid idea of what’s coming up with the trail and where the best tent sites are and such. This morning, it was their planning for a ride back to the trail that helped us out big time! They’re very apt at reaching out to trail angels (mostly via Facebook) and Cheer found someone who was willing to give us a ride back to the trail at 9:45am. This allowed her time to pick up her resupply box from the post office and for all of us to pack our things up.
TW and I visited the grocery store prior to departure. I intended to get a sandwich to pack out for my lunch, but instead opted for the very nutritious and energy intensive options of a donut and cherry strudel.
Our driver Mike was awesome. This was the first time he’d volunteered assisting hikers and told us that not many hikers seem to come into Leavenworth. They either stay around Stevens Pass or go west the other direction for resupply. He works as a rescue paramedic and told us some interesting stories about his experiences. Upon arrival, after many thanks, we said goodbye to Mike and started our final preparations before hiking onward.
We went for the ole 10:52am start time. The terrain for the start of our hike was wonderful. A very gradual descent that allowed for quick walking. We stuck together and were like hiking machines. It stayed this way for a mile and a half before our first big climb.
We all sort of separated on the hike up. My pack felt as though it were full of lead and thus, I put on the earbuds to get the Led out, assisting me up the hill with great momentum. It was just over 1,000 feet elevation gain up to the gorgeous Valhalla Lake. I’m quite certain Valhalla means “Valley filled with water and of virtues,” as first named by the Spanish conquistadors that made their way into this Pacific Northwest wilderness. Pretty sure at least.
At the lake we had a parting of the ways. TW kept pushing on without going down the side trail to its shore and the rest of us found a beautiful spot on a rock outcrop overlooking it. We meet some ladies there doing a section who had hiked in some zucchini bread (unfortunately for me, it had walnuts…I passed) and some date bars that they offered to us. I couldn’t resist even with my pack weight at extreme levels after filling up in Leavenworth. It was delicious! I had some of my snacks as well and got going after a little while. Cheer and Calzone were the wisest of us all and stayed to take a swim! Such a pretty lake.
I walked solo for most of the day through some beautiful stuff, down from Valhalla Lake and then back up again. I caught up to Mr. Warhorse at the top of the 5,550 ish elevation Grizzly Peak where he was taking a break. We then went down together and experienced our first marmot whistling. They and the smaller pika’s (that’s at least what we’re calling them) would become quite abundant throughout Washington.
Blueberries too! They’re everywhere. The bushes are basically the groundcover here, so at any moment I can take a pause and pick some blueberries 🙂. I’m more of a sparatic picker, one here, one there, but the girls strategy is to get a handful and then eat all at once. It eliminates the risk of the occasional sour tasting berry…
Here’s going up to Grizzly Peak…
And this is actually afterwards, starting on our descent, but it gives a feel for it. Sort of open and rounded at the top…
Here’s our marmot whistle encounter. We had no idea what it was at first until later we later actually saw one making the noise.
I was a fan of this guy. King of the rock!
Here’s a little pika. We tried pretty hard to get a video of it squeaking, but he was tricky and only did it when we put our phones away.
TW and I made it to Pear Lake and did a scouting mission to find a camp site for us all. I failed, but once again TW came through and found us a beautiful spot at the far side of the lake. Gorgeous setting for our dinner and evening. Calzone and Cheer joined as it was becoming dark, so we were united again.
Led Zeppelin – IV (Remaster)