Day 2 (2016/08/21)
Start: Steelhead Lake Junction, 9,450 feet
Distance: 9 miles
End: Tully Hole, 9,550 feet
We woke up and Greg immediately got to work getting the bear canisters and preparing breakfast. I started putting away the sleeping bags and tent and filtering the water. (We had a pretty good system) We went down and washed the the dishes, packed up our bags, and were back on the trail 2 hours after we woke up. We walked a few steps and reached the Steelhead Lake Junction, which felt like good news of our progress after a rather depressing showing the previous day.
The climb up was slow but steady, I already felt better than the previous day, and the trail was perfect. We were switchbacking and the trail was never too steep, it was beautifully maintained – the only imperfect part was the horse poop. We passed multiple meadows, as we approached each one I was sure we had reached McGee Lake. When we finally did reach the lake it took me by surprise. We walked partway around and then stopped for a snack on a rock overlooking the water.
We started climbing up toward the pass as we moved away from the lake, the dried mango must have helped because the climb seemed easier. Greg also made sure to refill his LifeStraw in the stream so we could chug some water. We passed two more lakes, the first one was Little McGee, the other was ?? Soon we were walking along broken rock on big rock slides, surprisingly still not hard on the feet. It was really cool to see it snaking ahead in front of us and behind us. We ran into a trio who had just come through the pass; they reassured us that it wasn’t too tough to get up to the pass and we were about an hour away.
Then it started raining, then snowing/hailing. I had been getting chilly so I was already wearing some rain gear, but we stopped to put on all our rain stuff, I even put on my gloves (who would have thought I would actually use them). We had a little bit of food and then when we started moving again. We felt a little slower after that and my hands were numb. And then suddenly we had reached the “summit” of the pass! It was freezing! But the view was incredible. We took in the view and snapped a few pictures but it was chilly and we were not inclined to spend more time there.
We could see a meadow far below, and a lot of switchbacks between us and it (1/2 mile as the crow flies / 10 miles with switchbacks!). The walk down took a while but we could not get enough of our surroundings; the meadow looked absolutely incredible. We walked down alongside a stream, and then we stopped to take off our layers and eat a bit more. We were vaguely considering looking for a campsite in the meadow (the trio had told us they had seen a beautiful site there and I would definitely not have minded waking up there), so we checked the GPS, but we were 5 miles off our goal. We kept walking.
One of my favourite pictures from the trip!!! THOSE ARE SWITCHBACKS!
The meadow offered these surreal 360 views. We were spinning in circles as we walked through. We were a bit sad when we came to the end of it, we took one last look and then moved on. The terrain changed a little, and the trail followed a ravine (I kept asking Greg if it was a canyon or a gorge but Google tells me it’s a ravine). My feet were hurting but we reached a sign for Tully Hole, which was very exciting! We pull out the map to verify and we see that we have only a couple miles and about -1,500 feet. We decide we can hustle it.
We switchbacked our life away (wasn’t on the map). We walked through a place that we could only assume was the Horse Heaven, because it was flat and there was more poop. We crossed 4 or 5 streams, and then the last one we cross and see a sign! That someone has written “PCT” in Sharpie on! YAY. We look around and see that plenty of people have camped in the 30 feet between the trail and the water. There was also a fire pit here. Part of me was tempted, but a guy we had met in the morning had mentioned that on the other side of the stream and a bit up there was a beautiful campsite with less mosquitoes! I had already been bitten plenty so when Greg found this perfect campsite I didn’t even mind that I had to walk up like 50 feet to get to it!
This one also had a fire pit (No, we didn’t have a fire). There were rocks around and the sand wasn’t super deep so setting up the tent was a little harder. I was jokingly tossing a couple rocks out of the way and Greg yells “Snake!” and I thought he was being silly and I rolled my eyes at him and looked down and saw a little snake right where the rock I had just removed had been. I screammmm. Greg helps him out of the way.
We enjoy our yummy macaroni and were in bed by 9:10.
PS: I went the whole day without eating chocolate! Greg disagrees because he says I had hot chocolate in the morning.
Itinerary to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.