Day 107: White Pass

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Fire reroute 10 miles? (Based on time)

PCT mile 2294.9 to mile 2304.7 (9.9 miles, 15.9 km)

Total 19.9 miles? 32km

I found the reroute this morning to be really interesting. Most PCTers were not loving it at all given the rough tread, steeper grain and less groomed nature of this secondary trail. In comparison the PCT is like a freeway. Similar to the standard of trails at home and on Te Araroa, I was loving it. I think the PCT had made hikers soft.

It was well marked and the forest service had obviously sent crews in to clean it up a little based on the fresh sawdust of numerous trees cut off the rerouted trail.

With limited maps of the reroute it is hard to judge the grade, how long it will take and where water might be obtained. I pushed miles into it deliberately yesterday to keep the distance down this morning and arrive in White Pass before lunch.

The scenery was unexpected. Beautiful alpine meadows for the most part with semi clear views, fire smoke is still really heavy, and past several mountain lakes. Heading north bound it was mostly down hill.

There was one big river to cross before reaching Highway 12 and there was no way I was about to get wet feet this close to town. Scouting up stream I spied a couple of marker tapes 100ft away and a freshly fallen tree that spanned the river. The forestry crew had obviously seen the need and decked this tree to act as a foot bridge.

Up on the highway I was joined by Tray who I’d just met and we were able to hitch the short distance to White Pass.

Perfect timing arriving around 11am. The small settlement was a hive of activity as the base camp and incident management team were set up here, pretty much taking the place over. Firefighter tents spread across the ski fields and a battalion of vehicles, plant and support facilities lined both sides of the road. Apparently an Aussie and Kiwi incident management team had come in to run this fire to relieve the tired locals. I had thought about dropping in to say hi and have a look around. On second thought, nah, I’ll skip it, I don’t want to get caught up in work stuff so close to Canada.

I hung about the service station/restaurant for a couple of hours and ate up. Got some chores done and picked up my resupply box. This place was awesome to hikers. They offer to do laundry, have a shower for hikers and allow charging of electronics, plus have a good selection of food – what more does a hiker need?

Out in the car park one of the hikers Dad’s was putting on some trail magic with fresh fruit, Little Debbie’s, beer and sodas. Perfect.

I got going again by 2pm and hiked just 10 miles to get a start on this next section. I thought about staying in White Pass but all the accomodation is taken up by firefighters and I didn’t want to set my tent up next to the highway.

I have another perfect camp, perched just about a beautifully clear lake.

Just on dusk I could hear elk calling to each other down by the opposite bank of the lake. Sneaking down I was able to listen and watch for around ten minutes before they moved on. The setting sun reflecting off the still lake waters cast a double sunset with the mirror image.

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