After waiting until the last-minute to get an accurate mountain weather forecast, I decided my dog-friendly backpacking trip would be an out and back from Snoqualmie Pass to Glacier Lake, at the foot of Chikamin Peak. Part I of our hike took us from Snoqualmie Pass, up the Pacific Crest Trail past the Kendall Katwalk, and to Chikamin Peak where we stopped for lunch.
Our lunch spot was on a boulder field about half way between where we camped the night before – Ridge Lake – and where we planned to camp the second night – Glacier Lake. Gretel may look comfy in the sun on her little perch but I assure you it was windy and cold. With the wind chill, I wouldn’t have been surprised if someone told me it was freezing at 2 pm in the afternoon.
Not knowing if we would have tree cover, or how sheltered from the wind we would be, at our alpine-lake destination I chickened out. I decided right there, with my fingers frozen and my nose dripping from the chill, that we would turn back to Ridge Lake. Because we were approximately at the half way point, it would have been the same hiking distance whether we turned back or pushed on to Glacier Lake. However, I knew what kind of conditions to expect at Ridge Lake and I didn’t want to risk either of us getting too cold or something at Glacier Lake.
After our refueling break, we turned around and headed back the way we came.
We hiked back through the beautiful Chikamin Pass where we ran into a couple of thru-hikers heading toward Canada to finish the entire length of the Pacific Crest Trail (it runs from the Mexican Border to Canada through California, Oregon, and Washington).
We hiked back along the ridge past Joe Lake.
It was a very long day – about 9.5 miles – but Gretel did great. Me on the other hand? My hips were getting sore from my pack and I started to get a pain in my foot that was both achy and a little numb at the same time.
We got back to Ridge lake just before dark and we were tired! The camp spot we used the night before was taken, as were most of them at the lake since it was a Saturday night and that is a busy trail, so we took one of the last campsites at the end of the lake trail.
I was too tired, and it was way too cold, to spend time heating up water for dinner so I choked down a snack bar, set up the tent, and we passed out. As we did the night before, we slept for about 12 hours. It took some time for me to fall asleep because it was so cold – I was shivering a bit despite wearing long underwear, socks, a light down jacket and having a little doggie heater snuggled next to me – but Gretel had no problems getting some shuteye.
The next morning we woke to find everything covered with frost (you can see it on the pack cover under my tent rainfly. That is supposed to be dark grey). I had been too tired to hang my food when we got to camp so I left it inside my backpack.
Despite not hearing anything rustling around the tent at night, we had a break in. Luckily, the little mouse did not chew a hole in my backpack when he snuck in there to get to my coconut macaroons. Apparently he doesn’t like them because there weren’t any nibbles or any missing.
After breakfast, I snuggled Gretel in her little nest while I packed up camp.
I didn’t just chicken out at Chikamin Pass, I decided we would cut our trip short and hike out a day early. I do feel kind of like a wimp but, although I knew it would be cold, I wasn’t prepared for quite how cold it was. I was also experiencing that foot pain so I wasn’t feeling totally motivated. Also, the only place for us to go from Ridge Lake would have been back up to Chikamin Pass and back to Ridge Lake again for the 3rd night because there aren’t any side trails that lead off of the section of train we were on. I don’t prefer out and back hikes because you see the same scenery on the way there and back so I certainly didn’t feel the need to see all of it a third time just to make a point of staying out.
After a nice chat with strangers that had camped next to us, we headed back toward the trailhead at Snoqualmie Pass.
Unlike the when we hiked the Kendall Katwalk on the way up, it was sunny and clear.
I hiked to the Kendall Katwalk one other time and one of my favorite views was of Red Mountain just before you get to the Katwalk (or just after if you were heading the direction we were).
Although it was clear and sunny when I had hiked the Kendall Katwalk earlier in the summer, there were clouds on the horizon. The women I hiked with said Mt. Rainier was visible in the distance on a clear day. I got the privileged of seeing it on this hike. You can see it to the right of the big trees (as is usual, this picture absolutely does not do it justice).
I wish that I would have been more prepared, gutsier, and braved the foot pain because that last night we were supposed to camp was the night of the lunar eclipse. I had no idea! I know we could have stayed out safely, I was just being overly cautious as a whiny excuse to go home and sit on the couch in my jammies…. which is exactly where I watched the lunar eclipse from.
Our total hike, adding in the bit of backtracking we did, was 28 miles in three days. I highly recommend this trail for someone looking to take a dog-friendly backpacking trip. We saw a couple of other dogs on the trail (but Gretel was the smallest) and they were clearly enjoying it. The views are pretty amazing and there are a good number of camp spots.
Even though my toes are still a little numb and I am sore, I has a great time. Besides getting a little extra sleep, which Gretel always does after a hike anyway, she seemed unaffected by hiking three long days in a row. I am still trying to decide if I want us to train to complete the entire 72 mile section of the Pacific Crest Trial from Snoqualmie to Stevens Pass (my original plan) next year…. when it is warmer!