PCT Hiking – Big Crow Basin to Crystal

Continuing on from Part 1.

Waking up in Big Crow Basin is a treat. Wide and open the sun slips up early, warming one up. Well, it did a bit but then finally the promised bad weather did come. Never bad though – as we were packing up a quick storm blew across us for less than 10 minutes as we hid in the trees.

As the sun rose you could see the clouds starting to form, coming from the west:

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Teresa in the tent, waking up:

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Me, maybe not so ready to get up but really wanting coffee……

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Teresa and me really thinking about it…..

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Sun coming up over the trees:

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My AGG tarptent with Jared’s custom sewn tarp (that he made) in the background:

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Fashionably dressed with my Ursack in hand:

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View from breakfast:

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Me putzing around camp. None of us were in a huge rush, the day was ours….

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Time for a trash-mocha…. Java Juice and hot cocoa:

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Teresa (and Jared) all had Java Juice as well. Teresa’s mug:

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Steve thinking deeply about his breakfast or maybe how much camp reeked of Elk butt 😉 (The ground under us was literally nothing but hoof prints from them)

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Jared having breakfast (all doing our bag thing):

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Teresa loitering in her tent till the last minute:

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The shelter:

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Under the trees waiting for the 10 minute storm to blow through:

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The storm finished and we quickly took off….

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Looking back at the shelter and Big Crow Basin as we headed uphill, on Crow Lake Way Trail #953. It connects with the PCT. You can still see the old trail from the basin, where the Cascade Crest Trail went through the basin, instead of going above.

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A tiny skull that Steve found, in Teresa’s hand:

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We connected back to the PCT at the flat spot where the backside trail to Norse Peak is located. (Looking north at the PCT)

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Above the creek that runs down into Big Crow. Water is nearly always found in this basin, this time of year though it was quite good.

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Teresa and I on the PCT as we neared the first turn off for trail 987 – which has more trails shooting off than marked on the maps. Unlike for Norse Peak where there is a trail on the map one doesn’t see while hiking. Weird.

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Looking down at Basin Lake, there was one tent way far below. Here we had a second 10 minute squall and had shelter under a couple trees. By the time we had pack covers on, it blew through.

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Almost to Scout Pass:

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Looking back from where we came:

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Looking down into the upper reaches of Lake Basin:

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Rainier, obscured by clouds as you cross the top of Scout Pass:

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Looking back from Scout Pass:

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Part of my lunch at the pass. I love these small chocolate bars sold at the checkout in Starbuck’s.

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Everyone else wanted to go to Norse Peak, I was fine with taking a rest. So I stayed with all the packs while they headed up the boot path (not on the map!) from Scout Pass. Photo by Steve, looking down at me. From the pass you can see the summit of Norse as well. You can barely see me in a patch of dry ground way down there (about 600 feet below them).

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The view of Rainier from the summit of Norse (thanks to Steve for this one). They found white Lupine up there as well.

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Back at the pass with some packs:

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The “marker” for Scout Pass. The trail behind is the one for Norse Peak.

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A massive lenticular cloud was forming on Rainier:

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When they got back down we crossed over to the western side of the pass and sat in the shade of a few trees (the sun had actually come out and it was warm). Steve made a funky lunch of Spam Singles and onion cream cheese on tortillas:

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Looking across at the ridge that makes up Crystal Mountain/Crystal Ski area with Rainier behind:

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Down we headed and started the traverse. There was one short washout on the hillside with no trail tread but by walking carefully one can get across. No snow at all on the trail from Barnard Saddle to Crystal either.

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Looking across the way, below is Bullion Basin and you can see the PCT angling upwards across. The main trail down to Bullion is on the right shoulder of the peak. I chose to take the old trail that shoots like crazy down into Bullion instead, they all took the longer route.

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More of a view down into the basin:

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The meadows of Bullion:

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They caught up and we headed down the dust pit that is the trail to Bullion Basin (it is an old road)

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A shot of me that Teresa took as I booked down the hill, loosing over 1,500 feet in two miles. Another storm was blowing over and it got cold fast in the basin.

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We reached the car at Crystal Ski area and not longer after the rain started, this time it dumped. And dumped. No turning off as we drove down into the low lands. We timed it well it would seem.

We stopped for hot drinks at Wapiti Woolies in Greenwater then drove into Enumclaw for a late lunch at Krains Corner. Krains is about as old school as one can find – good grub for after hike. Fair priced, fast and food coma inducing. They didn’t fair well this past winter with the bridge on Hwy 169 closed for so long. With the bridge finally open and the detour on the road gone I hope they can bounce back – they have been around for near forever. I always get the soup cup with my patty melt instead of fries – they make homemade soups. That are so good!

It was a fun weekend – hot, cold, views…good friends and Steve and I have now finished from Hwy 12 (White Pass) to Hwy 2 (Stevens Pass) on the PCT. Up next we are going to try to finish up our sections from the Columbia River to Hwy 12. If we get that done, then we will have done from Mt. Hood in Oregon to Stevens Pass. So close, so far in a way. I can say I never thought I’d get these miles done back in 2003 when I first walked on the PCT!

~Sarah

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