Day 43 (8-29-21): A Wow! Day

PCT Mile 2484 – 2506

Miles Hiked = 22

Sydney and I had a good night in our group campsite above Pear Lake. We were up at 6am and back on the trail before 7am. We weren’t the first ones to leave. Before we left I snapped this photo of the lake.

Pear Lake

A few minutes later, after we were back on the trail, we had a view north towards Glacier Peak. That’s where we are headed today. As you can see, it was another beautiful morning on the PCT in northern Washington. Sydney and I would spend the day slowly hiking towards the western flank of this glaciated isolated mountain in the northern Cascades. I didn’t know it yet but today would be one of the most beautiful and spectacular days on the entire PCT!

Glacier Peak

An hour into our hike, when we were up on an exposed ridge, I looked behind us – to the south – and enjoyed a great view of the snow-capped top of Mt. Rainer. It’s been about eight hiking days since we passed through Mt. Rainer National Park but today the Park’s namesake mountain didn’t look very far away.

Mt. Rainer

The trail was good and alternated between the forest, wide open green meadows and exposed ridge tops.

As we hiked along through the forest I took a photo of a large mushroom adjacent to the trail. This is the Plant of the Day. It’s a King Bolete Mushroom, aka Porcini Mushroom. These are common forest mushrooms that generally grow around the roots of forest trees. They are usually edible but they can cause allergies so it’s best not to collect or consume them while camping in the wilderness.

King Bolete Mushroom

Every time we popped out of the forest we had wonderful views of nearby and distant mountains and valleys. It was incredibly clear.

Late in the morning, it looked like there were small forest fires to the east. Where is Smokey-the-Bear when you need him?


We continued marching to the north.

Around 12:30pm we stopped and had lunch next to Lake Sally Ann, a small but very picturesque lake right along the PCT.

Lake Sally Ann
Lake Sally Ann
Lake Sally Ann

As soon as we left Lake Sally Ann we saw a plume of smoke from another apparently larger fire in the distance to the northeast.

A little later we had great views of the jagged peaks of the Northern Cascades. These peaks were to the northwest of us – the PCT will stay to the east (i.e. to the right) of these mountains.

North Cascades

In another mile or two we were treated to more views of Glacier Peak – we’re getting closer!

And then more views behind us to the south. We hiked by those jagged peaks in the past week. Did you notice Mt. Rainer on the right?

A few minutes later, as the trail took a short jaunt to the east, we had beautiful views of this lush green valley that contained the headwaters of the Little Wenatchee River

The trail turned back to the north and we enjoyed more views of Glacier Peak as we hiked across these amazing alpine meadows.

A couple miles later, as we continued north towards Glacier Peak, a large forested valley appeared to the left of the trail running off to the northwest. The headwaters of the North Fork Sauk River were hidden in the bottom of the valley.

A few steps later we passed the 2500 mile marker – only 152 more miles to Canada!

We collected some water from a small stream along the trail.

Soon we had another spectacular view of another valley to the east of the trail.

Late in the afternoon we had another view of Glacier Peak – it finally looks like we are getting closer!

We spent miles hiking through these alpine meadows – here’s Sydney as she tries to keep up with the “wicked” pace that her old man is setting!

As we hiked along the trail through these exposed meadows we marveled at the incredible views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. We watched numerous marmots foraging on the meadow’s grasses and shrubs. These are called Hoary Marmots. They typically live in colonies above the tree line. Sydney and I have seen them often when we’ve been above tree line – they are always entertaining to watch.

Hoary Marmot

Or sometimes spying on us from their dens

We also saw quite a few Sooty Grouse foraging on the ground

Sooty Grouse

And then we had another view back at the distant Mt. Rainer towering above the rest of the landscape.

At 6pm we passed over Red Pass at 6634 feet. The trail turned to the east and dropped down into this beautiful valley where we would look for a campsite.

We were now just southwest of Glacier Peak and had fantastic views of the mountain as the sun got lower and the trail became engulfed in the early evening shade.

We didn’t make camp until 7pm. It was a nice campsite and there was a stream nearby. I think we’ll sleep well tonight.

Elevation profile of today’s hike

Thanks for following!

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