Last summer (2018) my daughter Amy hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from southern Oregon to Canada. Her favorite part was the section that cut through the Goat Rocks, a beautiful wilderness area located between Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier. She was especially impressed by the incredible view of Mt. Rainier as she walked along the “Knife’s Edge” on her way to White Pass – so much so that she convinced me to join her for a multi-day backpacking trip there this summer. Here’s how the trip played out. Spoiler alert . . . As for that view from the Knife’s Edge – I’m going to have to take Amy’s word for it. (Photo Tour)
Monday, July 15.
I left Helena at 5 am (4 am PDT), picked up Amy in Pasco, WA. She had been hiking various sections of the PCT since early June – mostly in northern California. We drove to a campsite near the Berry Patch Trailhead south of Packwood, WA where we stayed in our tent that night (645 miles of driving!). It rained all night. 😦
Tuesday, July 16.
We woke up to mostly sunny skies. After eating breakfast and packing up, we drove up to the trailhead and started hiking at 9 am PDT. The trail and scenery made for one of my best days of hiking ever. After trekking through a beautiful forest, the trail took us through lush sub-alpine meadows – the geology, the wildflowers, and the water features were fantastic. The only downside is that distant clouds obscured our views of Adams, Rainier, and St. Helens. In fact we were walking in and out of playful clouds all day, which made the hike even more interesting. We hiked about 15 miles before pitching our tent beneath Old Snowy. After setting up camp, we took a casual walk to the pass overlooking Packwood Glacier and the trail to the Knife’s Edge. 🙂
Wednesday, July 17.
The wind howled all night and it rained off and on. It was time to get up but we stayed in our tent, dreading eating breakfast, packing up, and hiking in the wind and rain. We eventually mustered up the courage to crawl out and see what it was like. It was as bad as it sounded – raining, winds at 15-20 mph, visibility less that half a mile. We packed up and started hiking toward the Knife’s Edge. It was an interesting experience hiking the Knife’s Edge in such conditions – sort of fun in a strange way, but certainly not the experience we were hoping for. Soaking wet and discouraged by the prospect of another day or two of bad weather, we abandoned our plan to do a loop before returning to our car at Berry Patch. Instead we decided to hike all the way to White Pass, catch a ride to Packwood, and get a room for the night. We toyed with the idea of getting back on the trail and retracing our steps back to our car at a slower pace (3 days, 2 nights), but the forecast wasn’t favorable, plus we were exhausted after hiking 18 miles on Wednesday. The fellow who gave us a ride to Packwood also took me to retrieve the car, so at least that part worked out. 😦
Thursday, July 18.
We slept REALLY well that night. The next morning we shared breakfast with a friend Amy met while hiking earlier this summer on the PCT in California. After dropping him off at Chinook Pass we headed east to spend the night with relatives in Boise. Then Friday it was onto the base of Mt. Borah – the highest peak in Idaho, which we planned to climb on Saturday. Stay tuned for my next blog post about our Borah experience.
I shall return!
Although our trip through the White Goats Wilderness was not what we were hoping for, it was fun to share the experience with my daughter, and I saw enough to know that this is a place I want to come back to. Hawkeye Point, Old Snowy, Knife’s Edge – Take notice! I’ll be back to visit you some day soon.
- Photo Tour of our quick trip through the Goat Rocks Wilderness.
Best viewed on a larger screen – Be sure to read the captions.
- Map of the heart of the Goat Rocks Wilderness.
Zoom in or out, scroll, drag, etc.
- Hike into the crater of Mt. St. Helens.
My only other Washington blog post.
Below: This map marks hikes that have been featured on bigskywalker.com so far, including several in Glacier Park – Select full screen to expand, zoom in for more detail, or click on a marker for a link to the post.
I was up there at the same time, wouldn’t be surprised if we even said hello somewhere below Old Snowy. That weather was a bummer, but still lots of beauty up there. We had the clouds sock in just as we reached Old Snowy’s summit, only got the scantest of teaser views. The wildflowers and subdued sunset were pretty on Tuesday, though. It was my first time up there as well, and like you, I’ll be back.