Monday, September 5 This morning, Ben, Jeff, Marion and I, hiked up to the Snow Grass Flats in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, one of the most rugged portions of the PCT, which yields equally rewarding views. Marion and John had calculated when Sam was supposed to be passing through, based on when he'd left and his pace in similar terrain, and decided to try to hike in ahead of him. From this calculation, or what I will refer to as the "Sam Factor," our window to see him was somewhere between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. So we woke up at 4:30 a.m. and, after a quick bowl of oatmeal, were out the door by 5:20 a.m., ready for the 14 mile day.
Taking the first shift to lead, I relied completely on my headlamp in the darkness. Every now and then I would swing my head from left to right to make sure we were on the correct trail. At one point I looked up and thought I saw a shadowy figure ahead of us. I reassured myself that it was most certainly a tree stump or person-shaped rock. The next time the trail was visible again, Jeff also noticed this shadowy figure, confirming that it wasn't just my imagination running wild. I continued gingerly, now imagining that we were deliberately following Bigfoot. When we reached a small clearing near a river and looked to our right, we realized that the shadowy figure was a hunter meeting his crossbow-wielding hunter friends. What a relief? At least it wasn't Bigfoot. We cautiously said hello and continued on.
The rest of the hike was uneventful apart from the possible UFO sighting and the ominous sound of Native American drumming in the distance. Once we got above tree line, the trail opened up to beautiful panoramic views and meadows filled with blue and red wildflowers. We reached the Pacific Crest Trail crossing around 8 a.m. and noticed that the area was actually pretty crowded, indicated by puffs of smoke from campfires and tents like ladybugs dotted around the trail. The drive up to the trailhead had been 20 miles up a winding dirt road, so we figured that it was an isolated area. Apparently however, the Snow Grass Trail is one of the most popular along the Washington PCT, due to its relative accessibility in relation to its amazing views. To me, the attainability of the wilderness is one of the coolest aspects of living in the Seattle area; the meadows, the wildflowers, the trails, the views - it's all about two hours away from the city. So, while it seemed strange that there were so many people around, it was also nice to see that this nature was so appreciated and loved.
We set up our camera equipment in a meadow, where we could pan the camera from the trail around to the view of snowy Mount Adams, and chatted with curious hikers as they walked by. Finally, at around 9 a.m., a northbound Australian thru-hiker appeared, and Marion ran over to ask him if he had passed a tall, blond, lithe and spandex-wearing gentleman. When he said yes to this unmistakable description, it meant that Sam had already passed by when we reached our destination. We knew that this would be a potential risk and still managed to capture some amazing footage of the area, so it wasn't too big of a loss or disappointment. As I've mentioned before, there is always a chance that we'll miss Sam and it's bound to happen again. It's also important to remember that the supporting role in this film is the beauty of the Pacific Crest Trail, and it certainly got it's moment in the spotlight today.
Cecily "Crazy Legs" Mauran