The Pacific Northwest Trail links Glacier National Park with the coast of Olympic National Park in Washington through a series of trails, bushwhacking, and road walking. Last year, starting in Glacier NP, we made it as far as the town of Oroville, Washington, before running out of time and having to end our 2018 adventure. This July we started up again, with the next section of trail.
In this section, we started at the Cold Springs Trail Head, just outside of Oroville, and hiked to Ross Lake and Highway 20 (description from the PNTA website here). Jen and her partner had been road tripping out in Washington prior to me flying out, so they were able to pick me up from the airport, and we traveled to the trail head together.
As per usual, things didn’t always go as planned: sometimes there was lots of trees across the trail, rivers had to be forded, occasionally the trail disappeared, and often there were bonus trails that weren’t on the map. Foot issues, mosquitoes, drenching rain, and frost rounded out the experience. Despite the discomfort (there was plenty “type two” fun, and some that isn’t fun even looking back on it), traveling by foot allowed us to take in the landscape on an intimate, visceral level. This section was incredibly beautiful, so most of this post (and probably the next one) will use pictures to more effectively share our experience.
Space. There is a lot of it in the Pasayten, The friends that we made last year (and who continued when we got off trail) had hiked in thick smoke, needing to get to a daily quota of miles to make sure they were safe from fires. We really lucked out with clear skies so we could take in the beauty, and we didn’t have to run from flames!
We also lucked out and got to see some wildflowers. Imagine entire valleys blanketed with them – the pungent aroma almost dizzying at times.
So. Much. Space.
In true Pacific Northwest Trail fashion, we founds some trees on the trail. Climbing, scooting, swearing, and crawling ensued. Very thick. Lots of sap.
For eleven miles, the PNT overlaps with the PCT. In this section we found signage, campsites, impeccable maintenance, and people. It was a drastic change from the rugged trail and the very few people we had come across in the rest of the wilderness.
As soon as we turned off of the shared PCT/PNT, we were met with more downed trees. We shared a chuckle: this seemed more like the PNT we knew. After a long day, and with calm, beautiful weather, we opted to stay at an epic spot for our final night in the Pasayten:
From this site, we descended for hours, finally getting to Ross Lake.
Traveling along the PNT has allowed us to discover incredible landscapes that we otherwise might not have heard of, much less planned a trip to. The Pasayten, as an example, is a land frequently overlooked, but a gem that I would love to return to. Though we were pretty beat up from the ruggedness and the mileage, we were excited for the next section: North Cascades National Park.