The weather here has been just spectacular, and on Wednesday, I played hooky and accompanied Mrs. Perils and a rock-climbing friend of hers on a day hike. Their agenda included a round of rock-climbing, so Wednesday morning found us leaving the house at an un-Perils-like 5:30. We drove up I-90 to Snoqualmie Pass and hiked into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness on a section of the Pacific Crest Trail that includes Kendall Katwalk, pictured below. The Katwalk was blasted across the face of a sheer rock face. You can see the trail itself in the upper right part of the photo. It looks narrower than it really is (about 3 feet), but it still gives the scrotum a tingle when you walk across it.
(Click any photo to enlarge)
The trail starts at 3000-ft Snoqualmie Pass and ascends 2700 feet over the 8 or 9 miles that I hiked. There are still lots of wildflowers at that elevation, and they’re real abundant once you break out of the forested part of the trail.
It’s called the Alpine Lakes Wilderness for a reason! (Ridge Lake below):
At about the 6 1/2 mile mark, Mrs. Perils and her companion peeled off the trail to scramble up to Mt. Thompson for their rock-climbing adventure. I thought I might accompany them up to the base of the mountain to photograph them a little, but I got off-track on the precipitous scramble and decided to go back down to the trail. I’m not really acrophobic, but in certain situations where the footing is sketchy and the trail (or non-trail, in this instance) is steep, I get paralyzed and, even though others have successfully proceeded before me, become convinced that gravity is not in my corner. I usually pull myself forward, whether on all 4s or gingerly walking, but on this day, I wasn’t going to be climbing anyway, so I just bagged it.
The bad thing was that I had most of our food in my pack, and they had gone so far beyond me when I turned back that they weren’t willing to come back for it. Lunch that day was one of the most guilty meals I’ve ever eaten. That’s the peak (Mt. Thompson) that they went climbing on in the righthand photo below:
Once back on the trail, I hiked a couple miles farther along, as Mt. Rainier to the south revealed itself more and more fully as I ascended.
My goal was to get to a point where I could shoot the mountain framed by the Gold Creek valley, lower right. I got to a ridge saddle where the trail turned back and descended in a different direction, so I couldn’t actually get the mountain centered in the valley. I don’t know why nature won’t cooperate with my photographic tastes.
I settled for a lunch stop on the ridge, with its panoramic views off each side, and lingered to read from George Eliot’s Middlemarch. The idyl was punctuated all too frequently, however, by waves of vicious biting flies and mosquitoes. I zipped on the leggings of my convertible pants, pulled on a long-sleeved pullover and wrapped my head in a polypro shirt I’d brought in case of a chill. They still found ways to bite through the two shirt layers. Turned out Mrs. Perils had all of the bug repellent in her pack. I think I would have traded her even for the food at a couple points.
While I was on the ridge, two pairs of back-packing hikers passed by on their way to the interior of the Wilderness. One was going to spend the next 6 days on their way to Stevens Pass on Route 2; the other couple was hiking the PCT up to the Canadian border. In the left-hand photo below, you can see the PCT traversing the face of the mountain about halfway up from the lake.
Sick of the photos yet? Didn’t think so…here’re a few more: