Saturday, August 6th, 2022, 0610-1930
Chuchuwanteen Trail Camp to Devils Pass, WEBO mm 725.6, Section 6 Pasayten Wilderness
28.8 miles, Gain 7070′, Loss 6510′, elevation 6120′
The Pacific Crest Trail was a dream. It’s still, to this day, my most perfect trail and the only one I can confidential say I would re-hike. This day I got to relive that dream, if only for 13 glorious miles.
We got an early start and were shortly at the top of Frosty Pass. It was cold in the valley we came from (a record low for the trip of 33 degrees!) but warmed up nicely once the sun hit…so the pass didn’t quite live up to its name. The trail was in much better shape than I expected, if just a bit overgrown in a few spots. I had to find some small fault with the first trail, because the one after it was a perfect superhighway…one that actually goes from Canada to Mexico. We met up unceremoniously with the PCT at a bland junction in the woods. It was just shy of where I camped my 2nd night on the PCT and 3 miles south of the border. Our side trail was blocked with several crossed sticks…as if to say, for the love of dogs, don’t take this trail!
I promptly turned south and began charging. The side trail had been great coming down but nothing compares to the tread of the GOAT trail. It was immaculate…barely a rock or root to get in the way, allowing a hiker to look around and enjoy the views as they walk. I was tempted to go north to tag the border again but it was too long an overall stretch and I was already low on food. I couldn’t afford to add 6 miles. Plus, I’d already been to the border crossing before. This was in fact my 3rd hike through this section. I’d had to hike 60 miles round trip as a SOBO to reach the border and begin my PCT hike. Hikers aren’t allowed to enter the US via the trail and the closest access on this side is Harts pass (30 miles south of the border).
We shortly learned that all the finishing NOBOs were having to retrace their steps to Harts Pass (just like we SOBOs have always had to do). Canada was still not letting hikers in via the permit process, post-pandemic. So we met quite a few PCT hikers coming and going… somewhere around 16. It’s early for them to be finishing but with so many starting and such a long season (year-round almost), there’s a steady trickle.
I was overjoyed to be back on the PCT. I could barely contain my enthusiasm and must have been driving poor Wolverine crazy with all my reminiscing and gushing over the trail. The views were almost immediately grand as we ascending towards Hopkins Pass. There was the beautiful blue lake below, a last sighting of Cathedral Peak, and the full line up of the western Cascades, including Mt Baker, still heavily clad in snow and glaciers. So gorgeous. I hadn’t even known I was looking at it 4 years ago. My Peakfinder app is such a treasure. It gives me so much more meaning to know all the peaks I’m looking at, especially since I’ve now hiked past so many of them.
The trail stretched before us for miles that we could see, sweeping along the ridges, flat as could be. Oh how I love that. It’s such a prominent feature of the PCT. We could see little figures moving along, like cars viewed from a distance in an airplane, everyone just cruising this spectacular superhighway. We descended into the valley of Rock Pass. I gawked at all the impressive switchbacks, one of my favorite displays of trail engineering. In 2018, I’d had to cross a scary patch of snow along one of the switchbacks. This pass had been the crux for SOBO’s that year. This day, there were no snow obstacles, just splendor and happiness.
We took a lunch break at a tiny spring, spreading out some of our gear to dry and ruining everyone else’s photos. About 7 NOBOs cruised by…it was weird to see so many thru-hikers at once. Several asked if we had just finished and we explained that we were doing the PNT. There’s always a moment of recognition when you say the trail acronym, then confusion. Everyone’s mind goes straight to the PCT, thinking that’s what you’ve said. Then they ask, when did you start from Mexico? I didn’t…I’m going east to west on the Pacific Northwest Trail. More confusion. Finally people just give up and keep hiking. The PNT is all about giving up rational thinking and just keeping on hiking. Truth.
I started a conversation with one guy and immediately felt there was something familiar about him. We chatted for a good 10 minutes before the topic of the Triple Crown and the CDT came up. The minute he said he’d hiked in 2019, I knew we’d met. It was Two Forks, a hiker I’d run into first at the trail wedding and continued to bump into for hundreds of miles after. It was so awesome to see him again, especially on this day when he was finishing his Triple Crown. Yay, way to go Two Forks!
I was on such a high after these reunions. The OG’s caught up and we all hiked off and on around one another the rest of the afternoon. I think everyone was trying to steer clear of me after awhile, because I was just so elated, I couldn’t shut up. All too soon, we turned off the PCT and were met with blowdowns and overgrown trail. But even this didn’t get me down. I met a really nice Forest Service lady, Victoria, who was almost as chatty as me. She’d come up the Jackita Trail, which was an alternate route we wanted to take the following day. I’d hoped to meet someone that might be able to provide beta on the trail, and here she was, with details galore. The trail provides.
I also met another PNTA trail crew that were working on the blowdowns. Their big saw had broken so they were at least cutting the side branches…which actually helped a ton. The trees were nowhere as big or dense as previous sections, so they didn’t really slow me down. I took an afternoon dip in a cold stream, then had to fast-hike to warm up. We made camp at a saddle with an ominous name. We had another great night talking shop with the OG’s. It’s been nice to have company the past few nights. What a great day…one of the best.