Mileage 26.5 (42.6km)
Pondside camp (2264.2) to Lutz Lake (2290.7)
Miles to Canada 369.4 (594km)
I failed to mention yesterday that I made a cheesecake at camp which I shared with Crunchmaster. The sweet sugar rush strangely made me very sleepy. But In the morning the great nights sleep had me bouncing out of bed.
It was a strange morning. Not a breath of wind. The sun was unable to break through the thick layer of wildfire smoke. It was like a scene from Mars. There was a strange red glow to everything. As I climbing into the Goats Rock Wilderness I was greeted with horrible visibility. Only about 1-2 miles when looking east and about 5-8 miles when looking west. I could smell the smoke with every breath for the whole of the morning. It started to rain ash on me.
After crossing a ridge at Cispus Pass and dropping down on the other side the smoke became less. I was still getting ash raining down on me as it had been doing all morning. The trail continued over rocky terrain and climbed towards the steepest and most dramatic section of trail known as ‘the knife’. To get there I had to cross a snow field. I hadn’t walked in snow since Sonora Pass, I remember it just like yesterday. That was back in the northern Sierras, but I can’t even remember how many days ago that was! After the snow the real steep hiking commenced. The rewards were worth it. I would have to say that despite the smoke and poor visibility the views were equal any of the best days I’ve had on the whole trail. They were stunning. The photos I took, and there were many, do not do justice to the vast beauty of the place. I was impressed.
The hike down from the knife was just as slow as the ascent. There were many stops for photos. Not just of the scenery but of the 3 separate herds (if that’s the right word) of mountain goats. Maybe 40 goats in total. Then there were the marmots. I haven’t seen them since the sierras. And the moonrise and setting sun in the evening was also stunning. I haven’t had a buzz from the scenery like I did today for a long time. Only a day or so ago I didn’t even know if I would be able to see this area or finish the PCT. Washington, despite the fires, I’m impressed.