2. The Northern Cascades in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. We were lucky that day, minimal cloud cover and smoke.
3. Wildfires aren’t the only sign of drought. Here, a stream is so low that the moss that usually fills it is dried out and bleached red.
4. Alpine Lakes. Locals tell me the grass is always green, not tawny.
5. At higher elevations, the symptoms of drought lessen and blooms and lush green become more common.
6. Well-placed stones help in crossing a large creek.
7. One of our favorite sites, walls of tumbled rock covered in patches of green moss.
8. I don’t know what kind of fungus this is, but it reminded me of a Moon Pie and I had to fight a strong compulsion to take a bite out of it.
9. A huge smoke cloud from the Wolverine Fire fills the sky.
10. A huckleberry- the locals go crazy over them- danish from the Stehekin bakery. Probably the only restaurant on the trail that deserved the reputation of having great food.
11. Couldn’t help but stopping to snap a shot of this neon green wood spider on a dead tree branch.
12. Red, green and grey Cascades in a smokey sky.
13. The monument! The US-Canada border is in a heavily forested area where it intersects the PCT, and the border itself has been clearcut. There is a literally a straight, latitudinal line shaved out of the forest.
14. The smoke filled Southern Cascades. Unfortunately, most of our hike south from Snoqualmie looked a lot like this.
15. The trail cuts across ridgelines in the Northern Cascades.
16. Washington is unfortunately, heavily deforested. Two dead and bleached stumps sandwich the trail, and ahead, Sally walks through a grove of replanted firs.
17. Stopping to catch some shade and snack outside of an outhouse. Squeamishness is not a concept that thruhikers are particularly familiar with.
18. Mystical Mount Ranier, rising into the distance in a smoke-shrouded sky.
19. The trail leading up to the Goat Rocks Wilderness on a clear day, with Mount Ranier peaking out from behind.
20. Bright green grass and snowy peaks in the Goat Rocks. This reminded us of Sonora Pass in the Sierras.
21. THAT is a glacier.
22. One of my favorite photos from the PCT. The trail walks over ‘Knifes Edge,’ a perilously thin ridgeline in the Goat Rocks Wilderness with views of Mount Ranier. We were so lucky to enjoy this short piece of trail on a clear, smoke-free day.
23. South of the Goat Rocks, the trail passes into Tribal Lands. No hunting, yay!
24. Much of the trail in Washington was filled with smoke, and ash, from the Mount Adams fire. Here, with the wind blowing the smoke away, you can see the magnitude of the fire itself. The blazes still rage and are reflected in the looming smoke plumes.
25. Drought is real. Washington has a reputation for being wet, which normally would mean abundant, good water sources. But it wasn’t the case for 2015.
26. The sun. Another hiker called it ‘like being on Mars.’ I’ve seen sunshine like this before in Beijing, because of industrial air pollution. Too much particulates cloud the sky and diffuse the sunlight, making it look red.
27. Getting a ride into Trout Lake with some fellow hikers. The local let us ride in the back of his truck- with a sofa in it. Also, I am a happy green Santa.