Mile 2306.1-2331.6 (25.5)
I saw a dense cloud rolling down into the valley where I was camped. Thinking it might be the forecasted rain, I packed up immediately and ate breakfast as I hiked. Worth it to have a dry tent and sleeping bag.
I wasn’t hiking very fast, though. The fog cut me off from my surroundings. I climbed up through the quiet forest. I passed boundary signs for Mt. Rainier National Park. I wondered if there was stunning scenery beyond the clouds.
I passed Dewey Lake, so beautiful and clear even in the dull wet light. If it had been warmer, it would have been nice to swim. As it was, it was cold and there were dozens of day hikers around. I saw more and more as I climbed up a small mountain and then started the mild descent to Chinook Pass. It started to drizzle.
I bet there were a hundred cars parked at Chinook Pass. More day hikers clustered at Sheep Lake. I took a break by the water. The crowds, the weather, and stuff from home was turning me into a ball of stress and anxiety. I wanted to charge up the mountain, take on the scree and the steepness, hike until dark–but I felt so out of it, sort of trapped.
All I could do was hike on slowly. I went through a pass and got hit with a blast of wind and drizzly rain. I had cell phone reception so I scanned craigslist for apartments. I texted Pat, checked the weather, convinced myself that I should keep hiking. The reception wasn’t strong enough to get a weather report. I guessed the clouds weren’t going to clear, the rain would start soon, and it would be cold.
And that’s what happened. The rain came down hard sometimes, misted or drizzled lightly sometimes. Every mile I sought shelter under dense coniferous boughs, collected myself, kept hiking. I got cold. I camped at the next site. My hands fumbled with the buckles on my pack. Everything was wet. The site I found became a lake after another hour of rain. My ground cloth soaked through, my pack soaked through. My sleeping bag sopped up the puddles. I tried to get to sleep quickly.