Friday 24 September 2010

Islands, Roads & Towns

The area between the Cascades foothills and the Olympic Mountains is a mix of roads, towns, industry, farmland, islands, beaches and forests. The PNT threads a way through this varied terrain, sometimes on trails, too often on highways, some of them very busy. There are some attractive sections - Deception Pass State Park, the Bluffs Trail on Whidbey Island - but this hasn't been a memorable part of the walk. It finishes with the ferry to Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula. From here I head back to the mountains and then the Pacific coast and the end of the trail.

Saturday 18 September 2010

Rain and Mist in the Cascades

Sitting in a motel in downtown Sedro Woolley I'm looking out at grey skies, rain and the ragged edge of clouds shrouding the mountains. This has been the norm for the past 12 days with one glorious exception. The long hot days in the Purcells and Selkirks seem like another time now, another walk. Initially the climb out of the sagebrush of the Okanagon to the Eastern Pasayten Wilderness was in sunshine and I had excellent views of the isolated easternmost outliers of the Cascades, especially the dramatic rock pyramid of Cathedral Peak, and on one long high level traverse I could see the long line of the main Cascades shining in the sun. But once I crossed the Pasayten River and had climbed towards the main crest of the Pasayten, along which runs the Pacific Crest Trail, the clouds, rain, and, initially, snow closed in. Day after day I woke to mist and wetness. I traversed the crest, descended to Ross Lake and hiked through the North Cascades National Park (where I did enjoy the massive trees along Big Beaver Creek)with only occasional glimpses of the mountains. Then on the last day before I left the Cascades behind the skies slowly cleared to reveal the shining white dome of Mount Baker, northernmost of the great Cascade strato-volcanoes. I camped beneath the mountain and woke to a glorious view. Then it was down into the forest and back into the rain. The final two weeks will see me on the coast and crossing the Olympic Mountains. Maybe the weather will improve.