I turn off my alarm at 5:30, register some awareness at 6, but it’s not even warm enough to move until 7. The sun’s out, though, thank goodness, because staring at my wet clothes, I know there’s no way I could put them on. After chatting with A-Game, Undercover, and Cookie Scrambler to stall, I load on my jacket and head out into the morning to hang everything to dry.
Over the next three hours, everything does slowly get drier, though we nervously eye the sky every time a cloud covers the sun. Undercover checks the Delorme to soothe our fears, tells us there’s like a 40% chance of rain today, but it seems to be holding off so far. Meanwhile, we’re enjoying each other’s company, chatting animatedly about whatever comes to mind. Mostly about how awesome the sun is. Starburst passes by, tells us he fell in, got swept downstream a bit at one of the crossings yesterday. It was a rough day for everyone, then.
My tent dries, my clothes mostly dry, until I can stand stillness no longer and have to start packing. Putting on a wet, cold bra leaves me growling in almost-pain, but it’s the hardest part, and we’re all commiserating as we shrug on mostly-dry clothes and head out into the morning.
The plan is at least 15 – it’s not optimal, but it’s what we’re likely to be able to manage between now and sundown. There’s no sense wishing it were different. Particularly since I’m already terribly grateful that the sun keeps shining.
So it’s down into a valley and back up again, warming up the legs and drying my clothes from the inside out.
I run into Ambulance at the bottom, drying all her things – she had quite the day yesterday, and is pretty happy to be standing afterwards. We chat for a long while; I’m really glad she’s okay. I don’t know that I would have been, in her situation. Just after, on a nice ridge, run into A-Game and Undercover having lunch in a sunbeam, and then it’s four of us – Cookie Scrambler was close on my heels – in that beautiful afternoon light. Ambulance comes by too, joins us, and then it’s a party.
After lunch, we’re cute little ducks all in a row, up up up the up.
The terrain levels off for a moment at a creek, where we gather water and stretch for the last haul. The sun seems to be hiding, but not so much as to make us nervous. Just wisp after wisp, teasing, threatening, as we’re sent upwards once more.
Then, the top!
We’ve lost Ambulance, but we’re sure she’ll catch up. Especially since it’s immediately down, down to a ford that Guthook says is kind of sketchy – and which we’re kind of worried about after the rain.
The ford is more confusing than anything, but once we get our heads wrapped around a proper route, things go relatively without a hitch – some slippery rocks, some wet feet, but all in all a successful crossing.
Then it’s up just a wee bit to our camp for the evening.
We’ve made 17.5 miles – more than we anticipated – which leaves us 22.4 into Stevens Pass tomorrow. As we munch on dinner, we talk plans for tomorrow and the rest of our hikes. I settle into the idea of not being able to plan for tomorrow, not really – I’d hoped to get into the Skykomish post office before it closed, but given that it closes at 3:30, and I still have to hitch down there, it seems a little out of reach. I plan on getting up early tomorrow regardless.
Ambulance and G-string pass by in the recently-fallen darkness as we’re cleaning up, and I wish aloud that I were brave enough to night hike. I’m not, though, and my sleeping bag, when I get in it, is oh-so-warm and inviting and dry that it makes up for everything. Curling up inside is second nature now, and sleep comes quick as a wink.
Date: September 17 • Start: 2421.9 • End: 2439.3 • Day: 17.4
Notable Accomplishments: Dried stuff out! • Bonded with people! • Tried to practice acceptance