DAY 5: Crag Rock Spring to Blowout Mountain (17 miles)
Today I hiked 17 miles. Seventeen!!! That’s the most I’ve ever hiked in a day. I’m definitely getting my trail legs. It’s too bad I only have three more days on trail for this segment.
I was quite strategic with my miles today. I wanted to see if I could push a bit further as it will allow me to spend my last night at the more scenic Mirror Lake.
I woke up early with the birdsong in the forest. I figured I’d make the most of it and was on trail by 7, having just had a ProBar for breakfast. My first goal was a cabin site in Government Meadows, 5 miles along. I figured I could make oatmeal and coffee and likely have some socializing (something I’m still craving along this section.)
I made it there a bit before 9, and got to meet and chat with Eric, a southbound thru-hiker. I also chatted a bit more with a trail family I’d met between Chinook Pass and Sheep Lake. Turned out their night at the meadows hadn’t been terribly peaceful, thanks to some colourful locals who drove the gravel road out in the middle of the night, making noise, shining flashlights over all the tents and lighting off firecrackers.
My next goal was a spring another 5 miles along. It would be my last water source for a section of 12 miles. The trail between the meadow and the spring crossed a handful of forest roads, as well as passing through an old burn, and some logged forest.
There was a lovely shaded campsite right by the spring. My plan was to relax, make dinner for lunch (chili!) and drink lots of water. I stayed there for nearly two hours. It was a really peaceful spot.
My last segment of the day was a 6.5 mile stretch climbing from ridge to ridge. I split it into mini goals. My first mini-goal was a campsite high on a ridge 2.5 miles along. The campsite was at a forest road junction with great views west. I took a short break there and even had a couple fighter jets zoom over me.
My next mini-goal was a trail junction 3 miles along. The trail meandered up and down, through varying forest, and across old roads. I finally got to the trail junction, which was my indication that I only had one more mile to go.
The last mile was the longest (of course!) I had to climb (again) to gain a ridge, and then drop a little bit down to a saddle. The first campsite I came to was right alongside the trail in the saddle. While it had great views, it was quite exposed and I could see weather moving in. I wandered another few minutes along the trail and tucked myself into a grove of trees below the ridge.
It had been a good, strong day. I was surprised at how little tiredness I felt. Of course I was tired from my day, but it wasn’t any worse than previous days. I enjoyed my snack dinner in full view of Mt Rainier and then tucked in for a well-earned night’s sleep.