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Day 129 – August 10, 2022

Mile 2521.8 (Mica Lake) to 2545.4 (Miners Creek)

23.6 trail miles | 22.6 tracked miles | 3,628 ft elevation gain | 78.8 F / 26 °C

Fortunately, the forecasted rain failed to materialize, and I slept like a rock on my granite slab (see what I did there?).

Leaving Mica Lake stirred some emotions, as I’m not sure if or when I’ll ever return. Even though I missed out on the turquoise hues this time, the site is still magical.

I enjoyed the scenic view from the comfort of the privy a few hundreds yards north of Mica Lake. The Forest Service has done a remarkable job at installing basic facilities across the northern part of Washington state, to the benefit of hikers and the environment alike. Privys help hikers adhere to the Leave No Trace (LTN) principles.

Privy near Mica Lake

The swift descent to the aptly-named (silty) Milk Creek was uneventful, though somewhat mind-numbing. On the other hand, the 2,500-foot ascent from the valley’s north side was grueling. While the grade was comfortable, the trail was so overgrown that I could hardly see my feet. In some areas, the path was eroded to the point that it was literally held together by roots and the invisible forces of nature. And naturally, constant blowdowns further impeded my progress.

I pressed on, with tantalizing glimpses of Glacier Peak as my constant companion and guide.

Glacier Peak

Eventually, the blowdowns receded, the path flattened, and Glacier Peak and the North Cascades appeared in all their glory.

The walk through the high-alpine plateau that ensued provided a welcome reprieve from the obstacle course and I finally picked up speed.

I love the symmetry of this mountain. And the trail in the vicinity is flat and clear of debris!

The reprieve was short-lived. Soon the jungle gym returned, with the largest blowdowns feeling like puzzles to solve, each with its set of challenges.

There used to be a trail here, somewhere under this tree.

As the Suiattle River came into view, the trail veered west and followed the river for three miles through an old-growth forest.

In the past, a bridge spanned the majestic river near mile 2538, but it washed out and was rebuilt three miles upstream in an area less prone to washouts, adding six miles to the PCT.

Naturally, there are always a few daredevils who attempt to wade across the river where the bridge used to stand to avoid the detour. I wasn’t about to test Darwin’s theory.

Old growth near the Suiattle river

While the three-mile westward jaunt was flat, it featured its fair share of blowdowns.

Your average Section K blowdown

This section is stunning, but frustrating, sometimes borderline mentally draining. I feel that I spent the better part of the day stumbling and dodging obstacles, and the ratio of pain vs rewards was poor overall. While I had a sense of what to expect based on my experience section hiking last summer, I was disappointed to find the trail in an even worse shape than I remembered.

To my dismay, even the brand-new, multi-million-dollar bridge over the Suiattle River is now damaged. A tree fell across it in the winter and hasn’t been cleared.

The Suiattle River would have made a great stopping point for the night, with campsites on both shores and even a toilet, were it not silty. I decided to march ahead and hike another four miles east to Miners Creek.

The Miners Creek footbridge is intact. That’s remarkable on this section!

Near Miners Creek, I found a fantastic, intimate, private campsite with my own stream and beach—a fantastic reward for persevering through a frustrating day. I just hope that the menacing clouds fade away overnight!

Distance to Canada: about 100 miles!

The Big Picture

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