Day 116 – July 28, 2022
Mile 2224.8 (Trout Lake Creek) to 2229.9 (FS 23/Trout Lake, WA)
5.1 trail miles | 4.9 tracked miles | 1,350 ft elevation gain | 73.4 F / 23 °C
Today was a “nero” day, which stands for “near zero miles hiked.” I woke up early and covered a quick but steep 5 miles to reach Forest Road 23, where I caught the first shuttle to Trout Lake, WA. Trout Lake is known for being extremely hiker-friendly, and a group of local volunteers graciously runs a convenient shuttle service to and from the trailhead.
Although Trout Lake is my first resupply point in Washington, the town is actually situated 13 miles south of the PCT. I’m already further north into WA than it might seem by looking at a map!
Trout Lake, WA, is a rural community with approximately 1,200 permanent residents according to the locals, or 696 according to the 2020 census. The small town center is surrounded by a sprawling residential and agricultural area.
Naturally, my first priority was to enjoy a second breakfast at the town’s sole café, which also happens to double as a coffee shop and gas station—it’s an all-in-one establishment!
Trout Lake has only one grocery store, but it offers superb resupply options. The owners are incredibly welcoming and have put a lot of effort into understanding the needs of hikers. In fact, the REI store I visited in Portland almost pales in comparison! I found a wide range of backpacking meals and snacks, along with typically hard-to-find items such as Grenbelly lunch bars.
The grocery store also holds hiker packages, and I picked up my fifth and final pair of shoes for the journey. The owners also offer laundry services and have a couple of rooms for rent, though I had rented a room at the one-and-only local motel.
My accommodation, the Trout Lake Inn, is located almost a mile away from the town center. One mile on the trail is nothing, but it felt like a considerable distance while carrying a full grocery bag in addition to my backpack! On the bright side, the views of Mt. Rainier were lovely, and I was in high spirits and excited for the next few weeks ahead.
The Trout Lake Inn is a quiet and tidy property with convenient on-site laundry and charming little touches like a rubber ducky in the bathroom.
After washing my sweat-drenched attire, I organized my resupply for the next segment, caught up on world events, and relaxed while enjoying a peach and huckleberry pie (a tasty local specialty) that I washed down with a Frappuccino—a bad habit I picked up in trail towns and intend to kick as soon as I get home!
I had been looking forward to visiting the pizza restaurant located right across from the hotel for dinner. Unfortunately, it was closed today, so I had to return to the café in the town center, adding another 1.6 bonus miles to my day. Fortunately, I had the foresight to check the opening hours in the afternoon, as restaurants in rural towns tend to close early.
I strolled back to my hotel as the sun was setting on another blessed day. I walked the 0.8-mile stretch slowly, savoring the ever-changing color palette as the last rays of sun touched Mt. Rainier.
Tomorrow, I’ll leave Trout Lake and head back to the trail immediately after breakfast. While the heat promises to be intense, I’m excited for the final 400 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, which will showcase the best of what Washington has to offer.
A few SoBos I chatted with on the shuttle this morning informed me that there’s hardly any snow left on the next two sections, which bodes well for the success of my adventure. The conditions beyond Stevens Pass are still a wildcard, but the snow is melting fast.
On to White Pass!