White Pass Going North
August 16-17, 2008.
Lynn joined Ford and I for this section on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). We started at White Pass on Hwy 2, heading North. The weather was slated to be very hot on Saturday so we left as early as we could, on the trail by 8 am. Kirk dropped us off, making the trip easier. To find the northbound trailhead, go over the pass, and look for Leech Lake on the left, just after you cross. You will see a road to the left, turn in. There is a boat ramp, a horse camp and camping here as well. The trail is marked well.
The PCT from White Pass slowly gains elevation, going through trees till you drop into the open. It provides nice shade on a hot morning.
Walking up into the meadows below Sand Lake.
Sand Lake. It is a wide meadowy area with lush growth and of course a lifetime supply of mosquitoes –
Other half of Sand lake with a lot of Lupine in bloom.
Beargrass in bloom:
After leaving Sand Lake, we climbed up the ridge to the plateau full of lakes and dropped down to the outlet of Beusch Lake:
One of the many lakes you pass:
Not long after this lake we ran into Jeff coming Southbound. He had said he might be out on the trail and he was. He turned around there and joined us. We stopped at Snow Lake where the mosquitoes and black flies descended on us. All I wanted was water and in that time I received at least 200 more bites. We even swam to just cool off and get away from them for a few.
Our goal was Bumping River and we made it in the early evening. The log “bridge” over the upper stream crossing/horse camp was damaged this past winter (07/08). I elected to ford the stream. It was very, very cold and knee-deep in the middle. Still, it was an easy ford – nothing scary, with a gentle current. I left my Croc sandals on and walked in them the next mile or so downhill to Bumping River, then forded the river which was not above mid calf. Ford did really well on it. I might add that walking barefoot in the Croc’s was absolutely comfy. It felt really good!
We walked a bit upstream and found a campsite on the Bumping where we could see Fish lake as well.
We set up and after eating went to bed. The bugs were so thick we had to stay in our tents until dark. It was a nice site, Steve and I had almost camped in it October, 2007, but had that time camped next to the river’s ford.
It is a shy 13 miles from White Pass.
The moon was full and when it came up it was very pretty. Thunderstorms had been predicted but nothing came. It was never cold though. It was in the mid to high 90’s earlier on Saturday.
I woke up in the coming light at 5 am and puttered. We had a hard climb ahead of us to get to the top – 1500 ft in 2.8 miles. It was muggy, very muggy.
As you start climbing out of the trees you pass Buck lake:
More of Buck Lake –
A tiny bit of snow remained, as we climbed above Buck Lake.
The trail goes up and up here, pulling for the sky and a wooded pass. If you look down, behind you, you can see many little lakes below as well as Crag Lake.
Ford, Jeff and I crossed the pass – the high point and waited for Lynn. Meanwhile as we walked up to the pass, Ford was ahead of me, not normally an issue. I heard Ford cry out and hurried up the final yards to the wooded pass, to find an adult male with his hands on my kid. This encounter didn’t go well – it was a well-known volunteer FS ranger who wasn’t well liked due to his actions. He had been hiding in the wooded notch, waiting for us. The key though is you don’t EVER touch a child, nor do you grill them. As I came into the woods, he had his hands on Ford’s backpack and was demanding to know my kid’s name and where we had camped. My son was 10 years old. He then lit into me, but knowing who he was from multiple trip reports describing this volunteer, I told him unless he had issue with us and called for an actual LEO ranger he could sod off. This was him walking off, heading South.
This was the part of the trip that left a bad taste in my mouth. The volunteer ranger was excessively creepy and I was happy I wasn’t alone, and had other adults. When I came home I did lodge complaints over his touching my child.
Lynn caught up to us but her feet were killing her, she had heel blisters so going up was hurting her. She decided she wanted to head downhill and opted to go down Laughingwater Creek/3 Lakes Trail instead. It would take off about 3 miles and have little gain after we turned off. Being a good hiking partner I agreed to go with her. At that pass you can get 4-5 bars of digital service so I called Kirk and asked if he would pick us up. He said he would.
So we turned off not long after and headed downhill.
Still hot, humid and muggy as we got our final views of Rainier.
One of the lakes:
What stood out on this section was the bugs. They were horrendous. You couldn’t quit moving!
The patrol cabin between the lower 2 lakes of 3 Lakes:
We were there so early in the season, and the trail isn’t heavily used, that the cabin was locked up and the bear pole not up yet.
Tightly sealed still.
The trail shoots down nearly 8 miles from the PCT. The upper section was full of fresh bear scat and a lot of large paw prints in the mud. No human tracks though – the snow patches we crossed only showed deer, elk and bear tracks. The camp itself at 3 Lakes in Mt. Rainier NP still had snow. The rest of the trip was a very boring long descent to Hwy 123 with no views, no wind and no water. Which…due to my frustration over having to change my hike plans, meant I became obsessed to hike down quickly. We ran out of water and the heat just got worse. I was so happy to see the pavement at the end, and to see Kirk waiting for me. Especially as he had brought me cold drinks…..