It all started out so well. We woke up to actual blue sky above our tent this morning, which was downright shocking after the week of miserable weather we’ve had. It even held as we got ready and continued walking the road detour around the PCT fire closure — boring, but fast hiking. We even got a chance to see a view of Mount Adams, the spectacular volcano we’re slowly hiking around, in the distance! (We’re supposed to have been getting views of Mount Adams just about nonstop for the past week…but that’s assuming there aren’t rainclouds everywhere blocking your view.)
And it was right around noon that it all completely fell apart. It started with a little sprinkle — I, naïvely, had hope that it would remain just a little sprinkle. Ha! Pretty soon we were right back in the middle of yet another day of serious rain, on and on and on. We put up the tarp just to eat lunch. My socks were soaking wet by the end of the day, and there was water sloshing around in my shoes. Everything in the tent is damp, and we were dodging weather all day long.
One of the big differences today, however, is that it got cold — meaning we didn’t just get rained on, we got sleeted and snowed on! This was the first snow of the fall for us, and the first one we’ve experienced since April (if you don’t count the top of Mt. Whitney, which seems like an exceptional case). The snow didn’t stick, because it wasn’t quite freezing at ground level, but we had quite a bit of snow coming down there for a bit. It was actually beautiful, although it would’ve been a lot easier to appreciate if we hadn’t just been rained on for three hours straight.
This weather in this area is a particularly big bummer, because we entered the Goat Rocks Wilderness today. This is a very famously beautiful part of Washington; one southbounder we met weeks ago mentioned this one place, out of all the places on the 900 miles of trail we had left to hike, as a place to make sure we saw. We’re not quite yet to the most spectacular parts, so there’s still some hope, but it’s frustrating to have our time in such a beautiful area obscured by so many clouds and so much rain.
Having said that, when I can let go and just be with what is, it really is a lucky experience to be out here. Hiking up here feels full of solitude; even on Labor Day weekend, there’s almost nobody out. The clouds, fog, and rain make it all feel even cozier. We passed an awful lot of tents set up in the middle of the afternoon, which made me feel even more hard core — all those through-hikers, derailed by cold and a bit of precipitation, while we kept on. Seeing the white mists drift by in the valleys, the trees with a dusting of snow, a single set of footprints ahead of us on the path…these were all beautiful, and part of a time I’ll never forget. Sometimes the times you remember best are those you’d never plan for.
And…as we came into camp this evening, it finally stopped snowing. We met three other hikers, just out for the holiday weekend, from Seattle, who explained to us that this weather is most definitely unseasonable — that sounds good to me. And just a few minutes ago, when Bucket got out of the tent one last time before falling asleep, she told me that there’s a perfectly clear sky above. Maybe, just maybe…we’ll get a beautiful tomorrow.