Marmot Pass reminded me that I am obsessed with Washington and the Pacific Northwest.
Our day started at 6am because we needed to stop at the grocery store (where I snagged these macarons) and take a ferry to make our way to the Olympic Peninsula. We were't sure if there was going to be a wait for the ferry with other weekend travelers who also were looking to get out of the city for a few days. Our goal was to make the 7:10am ferry and we were four cars short of doing so but the 7:55 ferry was just fine.
The first half of the hike is in the forest and then the trail suddenly opens up to alpine meadows filled with wildflowers. Alpine hiking is my absolute favorite. The delicate and resilient wildflowers paired with the majestic mountains that don't even seem real is a view that will always amaze me. It will never grow old and I quickly remembered why we backpack.
After we stopped here to take a few pictures we continued into the tree line to take a quick water break in the shade. Some hikers not far behind us caught up and asked if we saw the black bear walking through the meadow. We didn't see the bear but maybe the bear saw us? We walked a few hundred yards right behind these hikers and at the next clearing they got another glimpse of the bear as it walked back into the tree line. We missed him by seconds but the knowledge of his proximity still felt pretty exciting.
This hike to top of Marmot Pass was 6.25 miles and after one final hill up to the ridge, which looked closer than it was, we arrived at the junction of three trails. Marmot Pass felt endless. Each ridge was a new place to explore and we decided to summit one of the ridges, Buckhorn Mountain. This particular ridge happened to be an additional 1000(ish) feet and one mile up. But first things first, we had to ditch our packs which meant setting up camp.
We started our hike at 10am and got to the top at about 2:45pm. This hike was a consistent incline and not long after starting I began feeling full of regret making THIS my first backpacking trip since September, especially given my residual cold and probably not as much exercise as I should have been doing throughout the winter. But once we set up camp all of these feelings were quickly forgotten and my past frustrations and current achy body was well worth it. Since we had almost all afternoon David and I both took a quick power nap with our tent door wide open. I have never camped in a place where I would actually describe its beauty as intense. I felt like every time I looked outside of our tent I was just in shock. This view surrounded us and the mountains were just layered until they couldn't go anymore because of the sea. How unreal! When we woke up I wasn't sure how I was feeling about hiking a couple more miles but I knew I would be kicking myself if I didn't so I figured I would at least try.
It was yet another intense mile but luckily it wasn't a race against daylight and we had plenty of time to get there and back. We also met a friend on the way up! A fellow hiker informed us that his name was Gordon and he seemed rather friendly. Another hiker told us he was hanging out right on the trail and advised to not bother waiting on him to move because he wasn't going anywhere.
David and I watched this mountain goat for probably ten minutes. He was graceful and had a entrancing presence that really didn't seem to mind the audience. Even though we wanted to stay and keep Gordon company Buckhorn Mountain wasn't going to come to us so we had to press on.
We made it to the top and took a quick break to soak it all in. Not pictured is the view of the San Juans and Canada right behind us.
And now for our way back down for dinner and wine. I was all of a sudden motivated to walk this next mile and to claim my prize.
We had another encounter with Gordon and said farewell.
David made dinner (thank you!!) and I drank wine and read a book.
After we finished eating I immediately fell asleep. A full tummy, some benedryl and a glass of wine gave me no chance of staying up the next few hours for sunset but David promised to wake me up if it was good. While I was fast asleep David enjoyed a pipe, hiked another ridge, and woke me up so I could see the sun finally say good night a little after 9pm.
The next morning David made breakfast (thank you again!) and I slowly got myself up and took my time waking my achy joints.
We managed to only forget two things. Johnny's Seasoning and syrup. We managed to improvise and take some of the dark chocolate we didn't eat at dinner and had chocolate chip pancakes...or at least the closest we could get. After breakfast we packed up camp and headed down, which took about half the time.
We were on the Marmot Pass trip for about 26 hours total but we both felt like we fed our souls and our simple desire to move. As we made our way to the car we talked about how at a very basic level, humans are made to walk and move. It is a foundational function of our bodies. And to have no other obligation other than to walk from one place to another for a long period of time is freeing and fulfilling. I often take my ability to climb mountains, kayak rivers, surf oceans or the ability to simply walk all day for granted. I often can't help but get distracted and focus on how I look rather than how strong I am and how cool our bodies are when we take care of them and use them to their full potential. This weekend I was grateful for my body, for strength despite a cold and a phenomenal view that will leave me daydreaming until the next adventure.