Day 127 – August 8, 2022
Mile 2469.2 to 2494.5 (Lake Sally Ann)
25.3 trail miles | 24.8 tracked miles | 4,706 ft elevation gain | 82.4 F / 28 °C
I got up early, ready to conquer the world. I couldn’t be happier to hike Washington Section K again. Having hiked this section last year, I am familiar with the challenging terrain, the overwhelming beauty, but also the gut-wrenching frustrations ahead: due to its remote location, Section K is one of the most poorly maintained stretches on the Pacific Crest Trail.
The only damper on my excitement is the weight of my pack. Since I have beaten all my estimates so far in WA, leftover food has accumulated, to the point that I am currently carrying enough supplies for seven days, which is much more than necessary.
I could have dumped extras into a hiker box, but leftovers might come in handy should I have to wait for my friend to pick me up at Harts Pass after I tag the border, so I’ll just grumble and deal with the weight.
Within an hour, I passed near Lake Janus, where I camped last year under a light drizzle. The lake is slightly off-trail and not necessarily worth a detour, so I forged ahead, but here’s a photo from last year’s section hike!
From Lake Janus, the trail climbed steadily, eventually reaching Grizzly Peak (5,579 feet of elevation), then descended towards Wenatchee Pass, and ascended again up to Pear Lake.
WA Section K is considered the most difficult section of the Pacific Crest Trail outside the Sierra Nevada. By 10 am, I had tackled as much elevation gain as I used to in Oregon in an entire day.
To my relief, there wasn’t any snow left at the top of Grizzly Peak, which bodes well for the prompt success of my adventure. While the conditions might be different when I cross the 6,000 foot threshold tomorrow, they’re unlikely to be treacherous, and the weather is gorgeous.
The unmistakable white silhouette of Glacier Peak, which will be my companion for the next few days, soon made its first appearance along the horizon.
This section is incredibly scenic and extremely remote, and my photos can’t appropriately portray the expansive scenery.
I felt guilty for breezing through countless serene, enchanting spots that begged for a break, a nap, or just a bit of quiet time. Somehow, I believed I was behind schedule and had to pick up the pace to arrive in Stehekin in time for the morning shuttle. I eventually realized that I am actually a day ahead of schedule. While that’s unfortunate, I will have more time than anticipated to enjoy tomorrow’s highlights.
I stopped for the night at Lake Sally Ann, a scenic and pristine glacial lake in the shadow of Skykomish Peak. I quickly found a lovely secluded camping spot.
The most notorious feature of the Lake Sally Ann campsite is undoubtedly the pit toilet which overlooks the valley. From the comfort of my wooden throne, I contemplated the forces of nature, the joys of backpacking through Washington, and the blessings in my life.
As usual, I took advantage of the lake to freshen up and go for a quick swim. I always go au naturel, as it’s done in the backcountry. I chose the most isolated and remote corner of the lake, as far as I could from campsites and other campers.
Suddenly, a lady showed up to fill up her water bottle, and gestured at me as if she was mortified. It was odd enough that she chose the most remote spot to get water. It was even stranger that she stood there instead of turning back. I grabbed my towel and covered up, then she proceeded to collect water as slowly as possible. I waited in awkward silence until she finally retreated. I’ll leave it up to the reader to draw their own conclusions.