Snow Storm: Snoqualmie – Stevens Pass

9/17

At 5280 in elevation, I succumb to the elements and pitch my tent under some trees at Gravel Lake. I am 10 miles north of Snoqualmie, shivering in the cold rain. My jacket is soaked and useless and it is unwise to continue forward.

9/18

Damn. The rain continues throughout the night and now it is snowing. It is 8:30 am and despite my restless desires to hike, I know I must wait this storm out. I don’t have cell reception, so I can’t check the weather forecast.

In the desert, despite a forecasted rain storm, I hiked out of Warner Springs. It rained and snowed for two days on the trail. Along that stretch, I was lucky enough to get to a trail angel’s home and warm up next to a fire and dry my clothes. However, here in Washington, my next resupply is 65 miles away, and I can’t risk getting all of my clothes wet, especially with two overnights involved.

I regret having left Summit Inn yesterday. I regret having not anticipated this storm and leaving Snoqualmie earlier. Instead I am tent bound and the snow is falling faster and faster as time ticks on.

I guess I should try to focus on the positives: I have water and food and my base layers are dry. I am 10 miles from Snoqualmie so if things get worse, I can hike back. I can rest until the snow storm stops.

I anticipate that the next two weeks on the trail will be cold. My rain jacket was useless yesterday after one hour in the storm. I need better rain/snow gear to finish the trail in these conditions. I am nervous.

Later in the day: 2:00 pm

The sun peaks through the clouds. I pack up everything, and then it starts snowing again. I unpack. I wait. I debate whether to go back, stay, or go forward. I finally decide to go forward, wearing all of my layers.

It snows and rains non-stop. I hike a total of 16 miles, passing Taylor and the Swiss. “You guys see Sunshine,” I ask. It is dark now and I am freezing when I stop for a second. “She went to camp .7 miles ahead.” I hike .7 miles ahead and wimper near the next group of tents “Sunshine?”

It is dark and wet and cold and I don’t want to bother anyone in their tents so I continue on and pitch my tent under a wide bough and sleep.

9/19

Everything is wet. Sleeping bag, base layers, shoes, socks. I hit the trail and am immediately thankful for the footprints left before me. I know these prints: Sunshine, E Wolf, and Stake. They give me motivation and hope that I will make it through this leg.

I approach a camp in the dark. Again it snowed and rained all day. There aren’t any spots left so I pitch my tent on top of wooden debris, on a slope, in the rain. Throughout the night I shiver. Drips of rain repeatedly come through the double walled tent and land over and over again onto my head. I fall into a slight sleep for an hour but I wake to a temperature drop and sleet. I piss in the vestibule.

When a child, I would go to the beach in Rhode Island often with my grandparents. I hated the texture of my wet feet on the sand so much so that I would stay in the water until my grandfather would come down, lift me up, and carry me back to the beach blanket, where he would dry my feet.

Like wet feet on sand, I resist stuffing my backpack with all my wet gear and going back out there. My base layer shirt, even after wringing it out, weighs 5 pounds. There is no grandpa out here to pull me out of this.

Finally, after staring at the 12″ puddle growing in the footbed of my tent, I shove all my wet gear into the bag and head out.

Taylor and the Swiss catch up to me. While hiking with Patric, I find out that Taylor’s tent collapsed in the middle of the night, and so he woke Patric at 1;00 am shivering with his drenched sleeping bag in tow, moving into Patric’s one person tent with Patric.

I hike 12 slow, unmotivated miles, trying to dodge the puddles and slush, but it is no use, and I finally give up on avoiding the mess and dash through it as fast as possible to make it to Stevens Pass before dark. When I get there, I am in a desperate state, too wet and cold to hitchhike. A small Asian woman, Nemo, then floats out of an RV. She is also a thru hiker. I follow her to the Mountaineers Lodge, a hostel at Stevens Pass. I unbirth my wet burdens and take a shower. Other hikers are here, and they bring me hot cocoa and moans of empathy. This last leg was, as Reggie Watts would puts it, a “fuck shit stack.”

9/20-22 trench foot, swollen feet, new $70 leggings that I hate but were the only ones at the lodge that fit me, the amazing Mountaineers Lodge Hostel at Stevens Pass, warm old and new friends, fires, amazing food, and a window of good weather to come. As Boathouse likes to say, “send it!” Its time to take on the last 9 days and finish the hike. There is commrodarie and anxiousness amongst us. Through our intense shared experiences, I have become a part of a larger family and it is bitter sweet to have to say good by to them soon. The trail will end but I this experience will stay with me.

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