White Pass to Trout Lake

This trail crew rocks: they built a freestanding wall through a scree field

Saddle tree, been there awhile
Toenail fungus
The white one had an empty saddle and obviously implored me to fill it

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I had been looking forward to Goat Rocks and the Knife’s Edge for 100’s of miles.  Last year on the NOBO, this stretch nearly broke me.  It rained for days, I was cold and wet, and I couldn’t see a thing which made the endless uphill trudge even more pointless than usual.  When I got to White Pass I hung out at the White Pass Village Inn for days waiting for the rain to stop.  I hid from other hikers in my little condo trying to get warm and summon the will to live and hike on north. I understood how thru hikers could quit when so near the end.  I am glad I didn’t.

Our daughter, Sarah, Catwater’s Kid, drove up from Seattle to White Pass. Nick drove up from Grant’s Pass with his and Jackie’s dog Daisy and cat Gracie in the camper: the whole famdamnily. All 5 of us drove down to the nearest restaurant 20 miles away in Packwood and had a feast.

In the morning we hugged Sarah, Jackie and Nick goodbye.  The dog and cat heaved big sighs of relief that they had Jackie in the truck with them for the long drive home to southern Oregon.  Slide Rule and Catwater shouldered our packs for a short day.  We camped about 6 miles below the Knife’s Edge.  That day I had the best ride offer, ever, on the trail.  A guy came riding a horse with a saddled spare behind him.  They were all training for a longer trip a few weeks in the future.  He said he would put my back in front of him and I could ride Magic.  Is it continuous footsteps if the feet are hooves?  I considered the ride, but adding saddle sores to my other miseries?  Not.

The Knife’s Edge had about 4 snowfields left, the first we’d had to cross in a long time.  And the trail and views were spectacular!  Tons of day hikers and short haul backpackers and NOBOs, all pretty pleased with themselves and the fine day.  It was a challenging day with lots of uphill and I wound up camping a few miles ahead of Slide Rule.  I waited in the morning to make sure my murder plot had failed and we continued together.

Near PCT Mile 2248, a NOBO woman warned me that just ahead was a truck on the trail “with a bunch of moms and kids berry picking next to it.” “Are you f*ing kidding me?” I said. “That’s what I wanted to say.” ” Thanks for the heads up, I’ll be calm when I get there.” Later Dan told me when the NOBO warned him, he asked if she’d told the woman in pigtails (me) and when she said yes, he told her I’d take care of it. Am I so predictably confrontational?

When I saw the truck, I asked the first woman if she was the driver and asked “Did you know you’re on a National Scenic Trail, no motorized vehicles?” “We didn’t know, we just kept picking and driving a bit ahead.” I walked on as she yelled “Andale, andale! To the truck!”  Maybe it’s the hat I wear, it has the very official looking PCT logo on it, although combined with a filthy and faded turquoise button down shirt and my equally filthy but beloved black Purple Rain hiking skirt, I hardly present as an Official. Anyway, I hiked on and a few feet later saw the jeep road access and a few feet later another jeep road access closed to the trail with pilings. Pretty sketchy road access and the PCT where they drove on was obviously single track, but a sign or rock block might be a good addition here.

Two minutes later I crossed lovely gravel road 5603 and just beyond that, my first trail magic of the PCT SOBO: I drank a Rainier in 45 seconds, woot woot! 15 minutes of excitement all bunched together within 500 miles. Thanks Hayduke for the beer!

We booked it downhill to the paved road leading to Trout Lake and got a ride from a family in about 6 cars.  Amazing!  I did not go into Trout Lake last year, thinking it was too iffy of a hitch.  Wrong. What a great trail town, everybody relaxed and friendly.  Bev, and everybody else at the store go above and beyond to help hikers.  Since the motel had a fire and is closed, rooms are scarce.  Bev made some calls and found that wonderful Jean and her dog Max, just up the road, would be happy to have us, showers and laundry too.  What a lovely time we had!


2 thoughts on “White Pass to Trout Lake

  1. Hi Catwater,

    Thanks for all of the beautiful photos and the vicarious wonders. Fall Work Week got cancelled and several of us are bummed big time.

    Trek on,



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