Woke up because I was freezing and put on my down jacket, but I was too lazy to put on an extra pair of warm underwear so I never really got warm again or slept well. Thanks for nothing, sleep drunk version of me! Resultantly I was a bit slow to get going but I eventually got more awake and the warmth returned.
The scenery of the first part of the day wasn’t actually all that interesting as it was just walking along the for floor. At one point, though, the trail looped back on itself and nicely brought Mount Adams into view again. There was a bit more smoke, but it wasn’t terrible. Shortly after the view, it was back to the forest floor. I met a trail crew there and thanked them for their hard work. That was the second time I had crossed paths with the heroes of the trail.
As I had lunch, there for some reason were a lit of biting flies. I had encountered a couple before, but they had only been a minor nuisance. They found a nice spot to land, bend their body forward, waited a bit, and then bit. While preparing to bite they for seemed to pay no attention to the surroundings and were therefore quite easily smacked. I got twenty flies in that way and only two bites or so. Still, not the best lunch spot.
Some hours into hiking, I got to a sign saying “Goat Rock Wilderness”. Yay! That was something I had been looking forward to for several weeks. Of course it took a while before we actually got out of the forest floor and into the nicer section, but boy, was it nice. Whereas the Sierras were brutal and beautiful, the Goat Rocks were more subtle, soft and welcoming. First, the trail went by a valley up towards something called Cispus Pass. I saw a small stream running and wanted to gather some nicely cold water, but then I noticed the pieces of rock around it were hexagonal, and I looked up to see many more of such rocks and far above it all, the hexagonal columns from which the pieces had broken off. Nice! It was somewhat like Devils Postpile.
After passing Cispus pass, the trail went into an equally splendid valley. Many creeks and streams were crossing the trail and one of them even had a small waterfall. Far up on one of the hills, a group of twenty or so mountain goats were grazing. They were too far away to make out any details, but having seen some previously in Montana, I had no problems imagining them. They are pretty cute, which you probably wouldn’t expect, with their long white fur including a beard under their chin and it seems like they are always smiling and content. The valley was very green and with numerous flowering plants. Some of those seemed to have what looked like a ball of yarn as a flower, which I found interesting as I hadn’t seen anything like that before. Down in the valley, the creeks and streams flowed together and trees became more numerous. Wow!
I hiked on a bit and out of the valley where I found a nice camping spot sheltered from the wind. Not that there was much wind, but close to the mountain tops, it a wind can easily pick up. A dead tree was nearby, but it didn’t seem like it had been dead for long and was leaning quite a bit away from me, so I took the chance. Dinner was “Mexican rice”, which, though still prepared by soaking, was nice and much better than yesterday. Two weekend hikers were camping nearby and in general, there had been many more day hikers out than us long distance hikers. It certainly was clear to see why this is a popular destination and it didn’t disappoint me. Tomorrow there’ll be a bit more of it, which I am looking forward to.
This days miles: 2250-2275