At Lake Susan Jane, Mile 2457
Today was the push to Lake Susan Jane, 13 miles, 3700 gain. There were three full ridges to climb. The first, to Pieper Pass, was probably only 1000 ft, so just a warmup. On my way there, I met a father and his two elementary-age kids. They were heading south from Stevens to Snoqualmie. The kids looked a little unsure, so I told them that there was a pancake restaurant at the end of their hike. This got their attention, and the dad gave me a grateful grin as they headed on their way.
I did take the time to enjoy the views * along the way, though. The smoke was visible off and on, throughout the entire section.
Trap Pass was a real attention-getter, and I definitely got to use my namesake hiking maneuver. On the way up to Trap Pass, I met two very cool women, Colleen and Lexie, from Skykomish. They were out for a few days, doing their first solo backpack, with brand-new gear and everything. I introduced myself, and we fell into conversation. I told them how cool it was that they were out doing this, and that it totally rocks my world when I see women (especially above a certain age) out here, going for it. I gave them a few pointers, such as how to hold trekking poles, etc. They were going very slowly, but they were going, and that’s the cool part. They also shared trail mix, and a couple of sticks of pepperoni. The latter was a surprise to me. I gobbled it down, and suddenly felt that post-protein clearheadedness. Guess what I’m buying in Skykomish?
I crested the pass and headed down the other side. There were quite a few people out there, as has been the case the entire section. I doubt I’ve gone 20 minutes at any time without seeing somebody.
Trap Lake was sparkling a gorgeous blue as I descended the ridge. I took the side trail to get water and have a quick snack. I also managed to get turned around in the tangled rabbit warren of trails around the lake, so by the time I got straightened around, and I fixed a problem with my hydration system, it was close to 4:00.
So, 4:00. I had six more miles and 1500 feet to go, before Lake Susan Jane. I needed to be there no later than 7:30, because (skipping the details) I hike in my sunglasses, and the sun is setting earlier each day. Needless to say, I needed to step on the gas. I went faster than I am generally comfortable with (not too fast, though). I climbed a short ridge, did a long descent to Hope and Mig Lakes, climbed a more enthusiastic ridge to Lake Susan Jane, and swapped out my sunglasses just before hitting my campsite. Whew. I got camp set up in record time.
I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. Not only is this a familiar section of trail, but I should be seeing Brendan and Alex around 10, taking them to lunch (BURGER! SHAKE!) and heading to the Dinsmores’!
*Photo credits for the scenery: Eric Aalto