I wake up remembering vague dreams about my cats. We soak in the springs again in the morning till we have to leave. Nothing like a cave full of steamy water to make one feel like a goddess.
The trail south through the woods is dry but everything in the environment betrays its usual wetness: moss, yellowed and brittle but covering every surface except the narrow footpath we’re following. The moss fades in and out as we switchback up scree fields, showing us where the ground is stable and where it clearly moves and shifts from time to time.
The climb feels long and we’re low on water. We eye the ridge above us, sure that Snow Lake is just on the other side. Indeed, when we finally crest the ridge, we have a great view down to the lake, which is crowded (relatively speaking) with day hikers and weekenders… we’ve abruptly left the backcountry and entered, maybe, the medium-country.
We fill up on water and then hike the last bit of trail. When it ends, we’re standing in a parking lot right outside the ski area I used to ski at all the time when I was a kid — Alpental. I stare up at the slopes I skied a million times but have never seen without snow, grinning in amusement at this minor serendipity. Oh yeah — I grew up just down the highway from here.
We start the short road walk towards Snoqualmie Pass and get about halfway before hitching a ride from a passing car full of day hikers, who cheerfully drop us right across the street from the Chevron station and, much more importantly, the food cart parked in front of it. Aardvark’s! We’ve been hearing about this cart from nobo hikers since we left Stevens Pass. I get tofu curry and a downright transcendent fruit smoothie. The cook gives us complimentary Rainiers and we cheers. It’s good to be in town.