Day 123 – August 4, 2022
Mile 2377.8 to 2394.1 (Snoqualmie Pass)
16.3 trail miles | 15.2 tracked miles | 2,556 ft elevation gain | 57.2 F / 14 °C
Today is my 4th trailversary. I embarked on my thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail on April 4th. It feels like both an eternity ago and just yesterday.
Mother Nature helped me celebrate in style: I woke up to the soothing sound of rain. Even though I was hoping that the rain would not materialize, it wasn’t a complete surprise. Considering the forecast, I had proactively stashed my pack and shoes in my vestibule.
Given the weather, I was thrilled that I had the foresight to hike 30 miles yesterday. With only 15 miles to go until Snoqualmie Pass and the prospect of a hot shower, a roof over my head, and the chance to do laundry in the evening, a little rain posed no obstacle. I set out at dawn and started hiking with determination.
The first five miles were easy. The steep climb south of Mirror Lake was tedious but not nearly as challenging as I had remembered, which is a testament to the strength I’ve gained.
Mirror Lake, which is typically the highlight of this section, was sadly all shades of grey this morning.
I’ve hiked the stretch between Mirror Lake and Snoqualmie Pass many times, mostly for training purposes, and I confess it no longer excites me. The trail in a poor shape due to overuse; there are lots of ups and downs; the trail crosses or follows numerous dirt roads; and freeway noise can be heard as far as eight miles away from Snoqualmie Pass.
That said, I’ve always had a soft spot for Olallie Meadows and Lodge Lake, though I didn’t linger today due to the weather.
My emotions ran high as I approached Snoqualmie Pass. Snoqualmie Pass is where I ski in the winter, and where I typically hike and often cycle in the summer. I used to own a second home there, and the area still feels like home to me. After exactly four months in the wilderness, I am home. I have walked home. I’m still wrapping my mind around that.
However, this time, the journey is not over. My destination is Canada. I found it challenging to reconcile the feeling of going home with the reality that I’ll still be hiking for a couple more weeks.
I’ll admit that the idea of actually going home, sleeping in my own bed, and leaving the trail did cross my mind. I’ve walked home, and I have nothing left to prove to myself. But then again, I’ve already shipped resupplies to Stevens Pass and Stehekin! Ultimately, I never seriously considered leaving the trail. I was simply grappling with a barrage of emotions.
Shortly before noon, Snoqualmie Pass came into view. I departed from the official PCT route and cut straight through the ski slopes down to the small village.
I passed my former second home and even spotted the new owners. It all felt very surreal and bewildering.
A few of my coworkers were waiting to greet me, which was incredibly touching and heartwarming, almost overwhelming. I guess this means I still have a job and am expected to return to the office in a few weeks!
We had lunch at the brewery. Monica was kind enough to forgo pizza and junk food and bring me much-needed fruits and vegetables instead!
After a few hours of enjoying the company and catching up on real life, I made my way to the Summit Inn, the only hotel at Snoqualmie Pass, ironically located right across from my former second home.
The reviews were spot on; the Summit Inn is a dump. I had to switch rooms twice. The first room wouldn’t unlock. The second room hadn’t been cleaned. Instead of offering an apology, the front desk agent blurted out, “My system says it’s clean.” She had to walk over to the room to confirm that I wasn’t lying.
Then, the hotel charged me $15 to pick up my resupply package, despite their website indicating that package handling is complimentary for hotel guests.
To cap off the experience, my room overlooks a pile of junk!
I took it all in stride. Ultimately, I just wanted and a shower and a bed.
I did laundry, organized my resupply for the next segment to Stevens Pass, hopped over to the bakery to buy breakfast items for tomorrow, then went to the nearby restaurant for dinner and devoured two entrees plus a full-size salad.
I am planning on crushing the upcoming section to Stevens Pass in just 3 days. I believe I initially planned for five or six days the first time I hiked this stretch two years ago!
Here’s hoping for fairer weather as I pass mile marker 2,400!