Pacific Crest Trail, Washington (Day 3, August 2016)
Updated: Mar 27, 2019
Third day of an 80 mile section hike, from near the Oregon border north to White Pass, Washington, August 2016.
Day 3: Beginning at PCT MP 226, ancestral lands of the Yakama.
We woke at sunrise feeling rested and ready to hike. My migraine from the day before was gone, but the migraine hangover caused my thoughts to move sluggishly. Luckily, all we needed to do was pack up camp and hike north. I knew the endorphins of a day on the trail would help me recover and feel like myself again. Elu was as enthusiastic as ever, and tugged at her leash for the first couple miles.
The trail passed over several flowing creeks, so I never worried we'd run out of water but always kept a spare liter to share with Elu. Unfortunately, the ponds and streams also meant a flourishing mosquito population. For the first couple hours of the day, we couldn't stop for longer than a quick drink of water before the swarms descended on us, buzzing and hungry.
The landscape changed from densely wooded forest to burnt skeletons as the morning progressed and we hiked steadily uphill and into Mount Adams Wilderness. Elu and I heard a dead tree fall over and crash into its neighbors and we both jumped, startled and worried. It went against my instincts to slow down, but I tried to enjoy the beauty the wildfire brought to the area. Just below the trees was vibrant green life and bright pink and purple flowers.
Every hour brought us closer to Mount Adams, aka Klickitat, glaciers shifting near the top, and lava flows visible surrounding the base. I imagined what the land must have looked like when the volcano last erupted a few thousand years ago: lava spewing, flowing, roiling in waves down the mountain; taking out trees, deer, bears, and frogs. I saw the lava cool unevenly, breaking and bubbling, exploding as some parts cooled faster than others.
Elu led me along the black sand trail towards spectacular views of the mountain and a startlingly blue Mutton Creek. We made our camp near the creek where the water ran a chalky light blue that matched Elu's eyes. We took off our packs, set up camp, then went for a rambling walk and a quick dip in the creek. I swam in the stream blue with glacial slag and my hair filled with grains of the volcanic rock, the way it used to teem with krill after a hull inspection dive. As we dried off in the sunshine, Elu settled in for a nap and I listened to an audiobook and planned the next day's hike.
We always hike in the early morning and rest through the hottest part of the day, so Elu won't overheat. I try to have our camp set up by 1 pm most days so she can take a nap away from mosquitos. We live in southern California where it's warm year-round, so she also wears a coat at night in the tent and sleeps on a lightweight eggshell pad and a home-made sleeping roll that I bought from a woman in a hiking group online. I plan our schedule around her needs, and in turn she's the most enthusiastic hiking buddy ever.
Day 3: Hiked 11.5 miles into Mount Adams Wilderness to a campsite by a lava field and stream at PCT MP 2238.
Elevation change: up 2657 feet/ down 614 feet.
Camped at 5,878 feet