PCT Day 139: Kendall Catwalk

September 4, 2022

Campsite at mile 2397.8 to campsite at mile 2418.7

21 miles 

This morning is beautiful, but I’m not thrilled about finishing this climb. Jumbo and I pack up lethargically and then start moving slowly up the slope like two old, broken-down machines. We warm up around the time we see Tribute chilling at the campsite where he stayed last night, not much farther up from us. Then the three of us continue together towards the amazing ridge called the Kendall Catwalk.

Tribute has hiked this section before, and he’s been hyping us up about it for ages. Now it’s here, at the top of this long climb out of Snoqualmie: a beautiful path perched on a precarious rock ledge winding behind Mt. Kendall and through the adjacent peaks and meadows. It is expansive and mighty, like something you might see in the Sierras, but with that characteristic Cascade volcanic rock. 

We take these first few miles pretty slowly, just drinking in the views. I stop for water at a lake while the boys continue, then catch up with them at the top of a climb. They’re sitting comfortably, and Jumbo is pulling out his pot and stove. That only means one thing: it’s break time! I love break time! I plop down, slather cream cheese on a bagel, and make myself a cup of coffee. Meanwhile, Jumbo gushes about the fact that the marmots are back. That man loves a marmot. 

After our break we follow the trail down a rocky slope, into a valley, and back up another slope. The trail is like this today, with lots of steep ups and downs, but at least there are incredible views as compensation for our efforts. The one thing I do not love is the rocks. There are so many rocks. I can feel them on my feet, reminding me of the ankle-breaking Presidential range in the White Mountains of New Hampshire on the AT. It’s brutal. It’s slow. It’s so hot.

Eventually we find a good lunch spot by a pond. It’s the kind of weather where it’s really comfortable when you’re walking but cold when you’re not. I actually have to put my puffy on at lunch to stay warm. It’s honestly kind of a nice feeling after being on the surface of the sun for most of this hike. Predictably, I make a hot tea. 

After lunch the amazing views continue. We keep going across the hilly ridge. Then the trail turns down and keeps going down for several miles. I’m suddenly extremely tired. I want a break. We pass a lovely waterfall, then enter a not-as-lovely burn zone interspersed with pines. We all start to get a little loopy. Tribute finds a thick, heavy cone from one of the trees on the ground and holds it out to Jumbo.

“Just feel how heavy that is,” he says, and drops the cone into Jumbo’s palm while saying, “BONK.”

“Whoa!” Jumbo intones. He turns to me, tires to drop the cone into my hand, but it falls to the ground when I’m too slow.

“No, Passport!” he cries in mock horror. 

I pick it up, hand it to him, and he tries again, dropping the heavy cone into my hand with a loud “BONK.”

I don’t really know why this is so funny or how the song develops, but soon we’re chanting a weird imagined dubstep track consisting of “BONK,” “wait,” and “Somebody shoot me!”, the latter being something a very tired, sore, and dramatic Jumbo said on our way down the switchbacks. I don’t know how else to explain this. It’s just a thing that happens. We are losing our minds.

We stop for a break at a campsite, and I immediately lie down and put my feet up on a log. I’m just so tired. When we start moving again, Tribute zooms ahead with his evening cheese while Jumbo and I trudge behind. We fill up on water at a large creek where Feather is camping, chat with her for a bit, and then cross on a blowdown because the bridge is gone. It’s a little thrilling at the end of the day, but it also makes me kind of nervous.

Jumbo and I continue upwards, talking about the possibility of doing an alternate route to get to Canada if the northern terminus remains closed. Then we switch to talking about languages and Duolingo, which makes me want to start doing Duolingo again. We’re switchbacking up and up. 

There’s supposedly a campsite somewhere on this hill, but we pass a woman going southbound who says there’s nothing. I put on my headlamp and lock in, expecting to have to go all the way to the top of the hill. But we soon see a tent with the telltale straw hat on top. It’s Tribute! In his new Lunar Solo that his friends brought him in Snoqualmie! I’m relieved. There’s one more spot, which Jumbo and I sardine in. We cook dinner quickly and then get horizontal as fast as we can. I haven’t been this level of deeply exhausted in a very long time. 

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