Day 116: Washington Car Wash – Milk Creek

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Mile 2493.5 to mile 2524.6 (31.1 miles, 50 km)

More fog today. Thicker than yesterday with visibility down to about 20m. I certainly would not want to be walking in similar conditions out here with any snow on the ground. Snow is possible from early September so I’m happy to be timing my run through Washington with the intent of finishing right on the end of August / start of September.

The fog was super quick. Most of the time I wouldn’t be able to see anything then next thing you know, lift the head and an alpine meadow vista would appear only to be obscured again a few seconds later. I known there are larger mountains with permanent snow out there behind the cloud, catching brief glimpses of them through the parting fog. Oh well, I’ll just have to come back to do Washington again some time – without fire smoke and without rain.

I was absolutely saturated today. Not from the fog or the misty rain it turned into later but from the vegetation. Some of the gnarliest section of trail today with well overgrown vegetation, shoulder height, encroaching onto the trail. All the moisture collected on the plants was waiting to be deposited on passing hikers. Well known as the Washington Carwash. There was no avoiding it. While my shell layer kept me warm the volume of water was too much for it and I was soaked through. Add some wind to the mix up high and it made for a very cold day. Hands freezing even with gloves.

I had a few options. Cold and wet I could end the day early, set up camp, get dry and warm; or suck it up and keep moving. I kept on the move, pushing hard, virtually running down the descents to stave off the chill and keep warm. I was saturated anyway and could not get any wetter. My thinking was if I camped early, who’s to say it won’t be the same tomorrow or for the next few days. I don’t have the food to be out for days on end and needed to keep going to get the distance down.

I don’t know how the ultralighters do it. Most have a rain jacket but very few have shell pants. I past a couple in shorts and saturated Frog Toggs jackets. They must have been absolutely freezing. There is a fine line between weight and comfort that I think I’ve found and happy with.

Down low in the Kennedy Creek valley, low enough to get out of the clouds, a tributary did treat me to an amazing waterfall and a photo opportunity.

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