Seven days on the trail. The walk up from Harts Pass was comfortable, relaxing and beautiful. The wildflowers were blooming, the trail was a well graded, gradual incline and we had panoramic views of snow capped mountain peaks for miles. Then we began to cross some snow. Not too much. Just enough to keep things interesting.
On day two we left camp for the border feeling confident and hopeful. It was only a few hours before the snow that kept things interesting the day before now made things a bit terrifying. Our task was to traverse Rock pass - a steep, 60 degree, angled slope - covered in snow. Where there wasn't snow, there were loose rocks. We could see the slope descending before us for miles as we had to get across to the next pass. We stepped carefully, ice axes in our uphill hands and micro spokes on our feet. We proceeded like inch worms, one foot ahead of the other, not putting any weight on the front foot until after kicking in the step, being sure it would not slip on the melting snow below it. Between snow patches were washed out sections of trail, where we were left to scramble across a slanted ditch of loose rocks to the other side where the trail resumed.
We made it through alive, safe and unscathed, but decided it was not worth the risk of crossing that section a second time upon returning from the border.
On day three we woke up at 4:30, hit the trail at 5:30 and made it to the border at 6:30. Our return via the alternate trail over Frosty Pass had us hiking until 9 pm. We were at a lower elevation, safe from the snow, which meant a day of crawling over, through and around fallen trees on the trail. At times we could barely see the trail below our feet, as the brush was so thick and overgrown. Mosquitos chased us through puddles of mud and across parts of the trail that had become a stream of warm, melted snow... But at least we knew were weren't at risk of tumbling down a slope of snow and rocks like the day before.
After a quick stop down the mountain to change out of winter shoes and into more comfortable trail running shoes, we proceeded 50 more miles to Stehekin - a less eventful but equally beautiful walk.
In keeping with trail tradition, we now go by our trail names - Mud (Ross) and Bug (Anna). Or team MudBug. We are embracing the trail life, where time is measure by miles, mountain passes and resupply stops.
We are now off to the next 100 miles, a section known for its many steep ascents and descents, and in Anna's memory, one of the hardest parts of Washington. Looking forward to a quick rest at home, off of highway 2, for our next resupply stop.
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