Day 4: Bear Gap to Arch Rock Spring (13 miles)
I woke up near Bear Gap to a beautiful blue sky morning. The sun was hitting my tent just before 7, which I took as my sign to get up. The air was also warming up quickly after the cold night along the ridge.
I had 5 miles to put in before my first water source of the day. I had a little under a litre in reserve to get me there.
The trail climbed gradually along first the west and then the east side of ridges, passing from one side to the other through lightly forested saddles. I was treated to wonderful views in all directions of the nearby ridges and of Mount Rainier. As I climbed higher I even got more views of Mt Adams. I reached my highest elevation for this section of the trail, a comfortable 6500 feet high.
Occasionally the trail dipped further down into a saddle, offering me the chance to gaze down into lush meadow-filled basins.
I was however quite grateful to reach the small stream that was my water for the morning. The hike along the ridge line had been quite exposed and hot. I enjoyed a long drink of the cold, crisp spring water. Way better than any bottled water you could buy!
The next few miles dropped into another basin and climbed gradually out again to a saddle where I stopped at a small campsite to have my lunch in the shade.
Near the end of my lunch break a pack train came moseying along, 3 riders on horses, 2 mules, and a friendly cattle dog named Pepper. We chatted for a few minutes. They were bound for a secret spot of theirs where they stash beer and get away for a few days.
I finally got going again, with a reasonable 4.5 miles to go before my chosen camp.
The trail climbed once more to gain another saddle and pass over to the east side of the ridge. After that, it was a pretty gradual downhill grade through thickening forest. The more scenic part of my week was complete. Going forward it would be more forested trail as I wound my way towards Snoqualmie Pass.
I reached Arch Rock Spring around 3. I briefly thought about pressing onward but the next site & water weren’t for 5 more miles. I had already done 13 and my feet definitely weren’t up for much more. Thankfully it was a sunny, big and open campsite and the bugs weren’t biting. I enjoyed a very chill late afternoon, and a delicious pad thai dinner, before tucking in with visions of Rainier to keep me company through my dreams.