Pasayten Camp to Spring Camp – 9.7 miles
It was so nice to wake up amongst friends. Our internal clocks were all set to the sun and it seemed that we all stirred at about the same time. Even better, today was a day that I got to move slower. I’d decided to stick with my friends for the day and only hike about 10 miles. So I stayed in my tent a bit longer in the morning and eased my way onto the trail.
My warm-up for the day was a short climb to pass over the northwestern shoulder of Tamarack Peak. The trail then crossed the north slope of the peak before dropping a few hundred feet to Foggy Pass. Unfortunately it was another smoky and hot day though not quite as bad as the day before. I was most upset that I couldn’t see Mount Baker, which is a peak I often see from home.
Instead I got to enjoy the nearer sights of the forest, and the joy of hiking gradually downhill. Over the course of the morning the trail descended about 1500 feet over 7 miles. My friends and I spread out a bit over the trail. I hiked for a little while with one or another of them, but inevitably ended up ahead of them.
The trail got particularly boring once I started the long descent into Holman Pass. The forest was thicker and the trail seemed interminable. Plus there wasn’t much of a breeze to break up the heat. I was glad to reach the Pass, which is a junction for the Pacific Northwest Trail.
Of course after Holman Pass the trail started to climb. A mile on I stopped at Goat Creek to have my lunch. There was another hiker relaxing there – a Brit who was hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail. We swapped stories about our experiences along the trail. Turned out this fellow had just completed a long remote section in the Pasayten Wilderness. He hadn’t seen people in days until he joined the PCT. To him, these brief miles where the trails follow the same path seemed liked a highway of people.
I hadn’t been sitting there too long before my friends caught up. It was social hour at the water source!
Eventually the PNT hiker pushed off to complete his miles for the day and we got ourselves moving to hike one last steep mile to our chosen camp for the night. That last mile felt harder than usual, reminding me again why I’d decided to hike a shorter day.
We rolled into camp in the early afternoon. It was a large camping area with lots of options of where to set up our tents. There was a lovely spring coming out of the hillside nearby – wonderful, fresh water for us to enjoy.
Earlier in the day, as my friend Torrey and I were looking at my map, we’d noticed that there were a couple lakes just south and at a similar elevation to our campsite. After we’d gotten our gear settled a few of us went exploring. We followed a narrow track through the beautiful meadows and then dropped down into a small basin to find Goat Lake. The lake was warm and deep enough to swim in. It was a relief to finally rinse off after so many dry and dusty days on trail.
Back at camp we all took some time to rest and relax. By late afternoon we were all getting hungry and so cocktail hour was declared. This was a fun routine that my friends had established. They were a large enough group that they could share the weight of some alcohol and extra snacks. We also had one of the best venues possible, surrounded by meadows and high peaks. We chatted, laughed and relaxed, watching the clouds shift and the light change on the peaks around us. I also learned of another tradition of theirs – a daily haiku!
Here’s mine for that day:
Imagined views through the smoke
Find ease, take your time
We had our dinners and eventually headed back to our tents just as the sun dropped behind the western ridges. I’m so glad I decided to take this day to relax and enjoy the company of others. It gave me energy to tackle my last couple days on trail.