I had a hard time falling asleep after my Blue Lake trip. I wasn't sure if it was just because of pure exhaustion, but I tossed and turned all night. Surprisingly I woke up early and had energy so I decided to take a drive up to the Katwalk, a hike that has been on my list for the entire summer. It was one of the last nice days of the season and there was no way I was going to waste it
I didn't want to go it alone, so I called a few people who had wanted to join me on the Blue Lake trip, but strangely enough no one was actually awake at 8 am on a sunday! I did get a hold of one person, who declined, but then ended up going out on an adventure of his own. I tried not to be too bummed about it. It's my own fault for wanting to spend less time together, but it still got me down a bit.
Once I got to the exit at Snoqualmie, the calls started coming. Too bad most of my friends don't have cars and there was no way I was driving back to the city, so I decided to head up it alone.
At first I was a little dissuaded by the trail. I had heard raves about the views, my co-worker told me it was some of the best in the Northwest and the Pacific Crest Trail. All I saw were trees and mud. But then the trees part and you get a glimpse of Guye Peak. Then you go further and the views open up to the surrounding peaks, some still snow covered. I decided this would be a good time to try a pano with my new camera.
I continued up, not wanting to stop too much as it was going to be a long hike and I was still a bit tired from the day before. I noticed these little sprouts on the rocks and thought it looked like a mini-forest.
The two filters I purchased on my limited budget this week were a polarizer and a neutral density. I came across the only real water source on the trail and climbed up some slippery rocks all panda style and set up my tri-pod in the water. ND filter on, I took a few frames, but I got some flack from other hikers on the trail. Some saying I was "destroying nature". Whatever, they were rocks. I was more in danger of falling and destroying myself. Grr. They flustered my and my composition suffered, cutting off half the stream on one side of the frame. Argh.
At one particularly vegetated stretch of the trail I found myself surrounded by these little birds. It seemed as though they were curious about me and my camera and flew around me and some right next to me on the branches that jutted out onto the trail. They were cute. I thanked them and moved on.
About 4 miles I came upon Kendall Gardens, a huge talus field where I turned to my left and was greeted with 180 degree views of Snoqualmie, the Cascade foot hills and all the way to Mt. Rainer. I was shooting right into the sun without a UV filter on, but with a little work in photoshop I was able to pull something out to really show what I had seen up there. My phone actually rang while I was shooting and I hesitated to answer, but it was Casey so I did. I just wanted to share with someone how beautiful it was up there. He wanted to check on me, knowing that I had gone out alone. He's been great with that, every time I go out he wants me to check in. Makes me feel like someone is looking out for me. I was almost in tears up there it was so spectacular and he could hear it in my voice.
I knew I was close so I didn't stay too long in one spot. The trail became very narrow, one side the mountain, the other side a 500 foot cliff. Hiker ettique no longer applied and those coming down I would let pass. At least four hikers coming down tried to let me pass and almost fell down the cliff!
I remembered this great shot at a gallery my friend had taken me to and this kinda reminded me of it. The hill with fall colors and a bright blue sky. A shot like this is something I'd like to try again as my skills get better.
I saw so many peaks up there that I couldn't even begin to list them. Listening to hikers along the way I picked up a few names, and this aptly named peak is Red Mountain. I started to round the corner and with the wind picking up, almost throwing me off the trail, I knew that I had just about made it to my destination.
To really get the scope of how steep this cliff is, click on the link and then go to "all sizes" and you will be able to see the people walking across the katwalk.With a lot of dynamite trail engineers blasted a 100 yard stretch of the 75 degree slope into part of the Pacific Crest Trail. If I wasn't so tired I could have continued on another mile and reached two alpine lakes. I was already exhausted and figured that wouldn't be the best course for me. I sat on the other side of the katwalk and ate my lunch.
I ran most of the way down, passing many of the happy hikers who had joined me on the trail. I employed my iPod for help and it made the descent a lot easier. As I watched the sun set on the drive back home I felt like I was saying goodbye to Summer and what a goodbye it was! Two hikes, two different parts of the Pacific Crest Trail 200 miles apart from each other, and views that I will remember for the rest of my life.