Backpacking in the Pacific Northwest: Day Two

Backpacking in the Pacific Northwest Day Two

Welcome back for the continuing tale of two women (ahem, badass babes) taking on the wilderness and coming out the other side feeling pretty darn invincible. If you’re interested, my first two posts on this covered how to plan and pack and the first day of our adventures.

We left off with eating our s’mores at our camp site on Wahtum Lake, which was beautifully eerie in the early morning. The fog closed in around the trees and the temperature had dropped significantly overnight. If you’re an early riser like me, there wasn’t any sound coming from the campsites next to ours for a little while yet.

It was nice to be able to wake up first and get a few things out of the way, like filtering water (I nearly fell off a log so I’m glad no one was around to see that one) and getting the water boiling for breakfast.

Backpacking in the Pacific Northwest Day TwoQuick oats with dried fruit and a decadent mocha (hot chocolate + instant coffee = pure heaven) even if your little spork is sad and broken

I cannot emphasize enough how nice it was to spend a good half hour stretching out our legs and backs in the tent before we broke down camp. Starting the first mile all over again on the second day was tough, I can’t imagine how much worse it would have felt on tight muscles.

Backpacking in the Pacific Northwest Day TwoAlright, here I’m just procrastinating putting my pack back on.

Day two was meant to be a shorter hike at about 4.5 miles, but a few things got in the way of that plan.

Backpacking in the Pacific Northwest Day Two

This is a map of the trails around Wahtum Lake. Upon close inspection, one can see how there are about a dozen different ways to get turned around in these forks and alternate paths. But we had maps! Two of them even! We were determined to find the shortcut we had missed the day before, which it turns out is alternately named Chinidere Cutoff Trail and just #406M depending on signage and maps. But this time we scouted ahead and successfully found our route before strapping in for the day. To get there from our campsite we took the Eagle Creek Trail #440 for just a hot second and then hopped over to the shortcut that was #406M that would take us to the Herman Creek Trail #406.

Backpacking in the Pacific Northwest Day TwoThrow in a quick crossing at Simmons Creek with some unstable logs to get the blood pumping at the beginning and we’re good! Also, unexpected dogs always make things better.

This was where things got a little tricky (ha, okay, trickier) for us though. See, forks in a path are much easier to spot when your trail isn’t buried in snow that only covers the area right. at. the. junction. We found what turned out to be the wrong fork and took it straight downhill for a while, merrily stretching our legs and chatting about a snack in the near future. That is until we ran into some day hikers who were…drumroll please…looking for roughly the same trail we thought we were already on. So we turn around and follow them back at the fastest pace I’ve ever carried 40 pounds in my life because they seemed to know where they were going. Thankfully they were able to help us find the fork we needed in first snow and then the melted-snow-swamp. After that, we split off from them to take the Herman Creek Trail #406 and go on our merry way.

We figured we would be free and clear at this point, and while the day was shaping up to be maybe 2 miles longer than initially expected that wasn’t too bad. Have you ever knocked on wood to prevent bad luck? We tried it on a tree to ward off the consequences of me saying “it’ll be an easy 4 miles from here.” Definitely did not work, my friends.

Backpacking in the Pacific Northwest Day TwoIt’s June what is wrong with this place.

The above is a picture of our trail, or the closest approximation of our trail-like area. Due to the number of downed trees it was impossible to tell where it was under all that snow. J scouted ahead to see if the snow let up farther ahead like it did at the last junction, but it was as thick as ever. This is where we sat down on a log and considered that the only safe answer was to totally backtrack and head back home on the PCT again. We had a compass and maps, but no landmarks to base the likely path on except for a general idea to head Northeast.

Up until this point we had been keeping a stiff upper lip, but we were really feeling down about our prospects of making it through the trip as planned. Picture for me, if you will, my immense and overwhelming happiness at the moment I pulled out my phone and realized that Google Maps and the GPS WORK PERFECTLY EVEN WITHOUT ANY SERVICE OR SIGNAL.

Backpacking in the Pacific Northwest Day TwoYou don’t even have to imagine it, J took a picture of my tongue-out shit-eating grin as I found the trail again. I would like to note that I know I look utterly ridiculous here but it’s included for posterity’s sake.

We spent about a mile with our phones out following the little blue dot on the trail, which was conveniently also marked on that map. The snow was a few feet deep but thankfully packed enough to hold our weight. At this point we realized we were the most resourceful, independent women who don’t need no man unless that man is one of the inventors of Google.

From there most things seemed easy. A little bit of snow? No problem. More swamp? Bring it. Giant spider when we stop for lunch? I have my limits still back off buddy.

Backpacking in the Pacific Northwest Day Two 07We ate cheese ravioli with sautéed basil and sundried tomatoes topped with garlic olive oil for dinner. I want you to know that I personally made sure to rescue that sad, lonely pasta that ended up on the log and delivered it swiftly to its final fate in my belly.

The Seven-and-a-half-mile campsite was gorgeous and this time we didn’t have anyone around us for miles as far as we could tell.

Backpacking in the Pacific Northwest Day TwoI could write a whole ode to those walking sticks, they were lifesavers throughout the trip so far.

I’ll admit to trying to start a campfire and failing pretty miserably, but we had just enough fatwood that my fiancé had given me that we were able to roast a few more marshmallows over that instead of the stove like we had the night before. 

While I wouldn’t have necessarily purposely put us through the trials of that day, we definitely came out the other end feeling surprised with how capable we actually were when tested. Honestly, that was a big part of why we undertook this trip and I’d say we rocked it.


Thanks again to Julianne for being the better photographer by far on this trip!

0 thoughts on “Backpacking in the Pacific Northwest: Day Two”

  1. Leaving out my epic fall down a waterfall I see! Probably for the best. You present me far too well in these!

  2. Wow! What a journey! I’m so glad to hear it worked out ok for you. I would’ve been a bit panicked! Also, the food you had for your trip looks amazing! I’m so hungry now! 🙂

    1. We decidedly had some panicked moments, but I wouldn’t change a thing! I was skeptical in the beginning of packing what seemed like unnecessarily fancy meals (all food tastes great when you’re camping!) but it was so worth it in the end!

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