September 15th, Monday
2424 to 2445
We woke up the next morning feeling damp and a bit chilly, but when we unzipped the tent we saw a bright blue sky barely visible in the patch of sky through the trees. Huge mountains on all sides kept the sun from reaching us, but we were soon going to tackle a 3,000-foot climb that would change that.
As we had hoped, we were both feeling much more energetic today. We packed up and hurtled toward the switchbacks, striding along them as fast as we could, even when we were heaving for breath. We did the 3,000-foot climb almost in one go, only pausing when I literally ran out of air, and emerged back into an alpine landscape threaded through with streams and green meadows.
Now we strode along, crossing moraines, edging over creeks, walking on a narrow track through meadows. Near noon we stopped near a wide alpine lake and sat down to eat lunch. We had some pepperoni from the Snoqualmie Pass hiker box, and we ate this with abandon, as well as some peanut-butter-honey wraps. After a while Ken hiked up and sat with us and we chatted in the bright sunshine, watching the pikas dart from rock to rock. I was happy that Ken continued to pace us; I always liked talking to him.
At last we all got up to leave, and as usual Ken blazed ahead of us. We plodded down this mountain and up another gigantic one, walking through a pleasant pine forest toward our destination for the night, Deep Lake.
We crossed a pebbly stream and found a huge plain between the mountains (one of the jutting peaks was named “Cathedral Rock” because of its dramatic shape), with a lake in the middle. There was some good camping underneath the nearby pine trees, and we set up near Ken. Zach went to gather water, and when he returned, he shook his head. He had found cigarette butts and human poop on the shore of the lake— way to go, weekend hikers!
At this point we also began to see a lot of grouse. They are cute game birds, about the size of chickens, with slender heads, fat mottled brown bodies, and an adorable peeping noise as their sound of choice. They scuttled about in flocks in the grass here, peeping adorably. When they flew, the rapid strokes of broad wings sounded like a machine gun— quite a surprise when we ran across pairs close to the trail.
We made a mashed potato meal, and we must’ve forgotten to add salt, because it was really bland. And anyway, after Zach’s description of the “trace” that people had been leaving, the thought of eating potatoes cooked in water drawn from that lake wasn’t too appetizing, anyway. We climbed into our tent and hoped to find somewhere more remote to camp tomorrow.