My alarm goes off at 6am. I yell over to Cracker Jack. I’ve come to notice that he usually starts singing the minute he wakes up. Our gear is wet with condensation. We stuff it in our packs, eat bars, and get going.
Our day starts by climbing 3,900 feet in 3 miles. Groan. When I reach the summit, Cracker Jack is already there and has made coffee for us with his ultralight French press. I spread out my tent to dry on some tree branches and then spread chocolate hazelnut butter and strawberry jelly on tortillas. Yum! Breakfast.
After this, there is a big down hill through a thick forest. The trail is full of huge blown down trees and it takes a long time to navigate around, over, under, and between them. I find Cracker Jack at the junction of the old and new PCT. The old section uses a tree as a makeshift bridge over the Suiattle River. It may or may not still be there. The new route has a fancy, real bridge, which adds 4.8 miles and 1,500 feet of elevation. We opt for the adventure of the old route.
It’s a good choice. It has fewer blow downs and the tread is easy to follow. We also feel like we’ve gone off the radar a tiny bit, which is nice. After some downhill switchbacks, we pop out at the river and hunt for the log bridge. There are logs everywhere and I get a sense of the strength this river can have. We’re almost about to give up and ford when we see the log. Cracker Jack deftly crosses. I look at the situation with suspect. I will fall in the river…I scoot across the log on my butt. Not graceful, but I’m dry. Cracker Jack videos this slightly humiliating river crossing.
On the other side of bank, we decide to go 7 more miles to a tent site just down from Cloudy Pass. It starts to rain. I put on music and rain gear. I eat skittles, get water, and basically run up the side of the mountain to the pass, which definitely lives up to its name. As I hike to the tent site, I see a lumbering creature the width of the trail. Giant Wombat is my first guess. This is probably incorrect. Is Cracker Jack messing with me? No, not that either. Giant porcupine? We scare each other. It waddles off into the grey mist and I pick up speed to the tent site.
Cracker Jack and I camp by a meadow. The rain is heavier now and we’re getting drenched. Just as we get our tents set up and get inside, it starts pouring.