Pacific Crest Trail: Rain, Rain, Go Away

People said that Washington would be rainy. People were right.
Photo by Amanda Jameson

Photo by Amanda Jameson

What was supposed to be a short stint between resupplies just became one of my longer hauls this weekend. I knew when I left Snoqualmie that I was in for some rain over the 72-mile trek to Stevens Pass. I just didn't know how much.

The day after I left, I heard the first drips of rain around 4 a.m., but I had hope that it would clear up at some point during the day. It didn't happen, and as I climbed to higher elevations with some other hikers, the wind even picked up, leaving us decidedly wet and uncomfortable. In such conditions, hypothermia is a real concern, and after one of our number started showing the "umbles"—fumbling, mumbling, grumbling, and stumbling in a show of mild hypothermia—we decided to camp early, and spent the majority of the day in our tents. We'd made 16.5 miles.

We took advantage of a sunny spell the following morning to dry all our things, and didn't get out of camp until 11 a.m. We were some of the lucky ones yesterday, we learned: a few people fell in at the swollen creek crossings, and some of them narrowly escaped being swept away. We spent a lot of time talking to other hikers, and as such, only did okay miles—17 or so, leaving us 22 today to get into Stevens Pass. Those were wet, but mostly uneventful, and now I'm warm and dry, or drying, anyway, in the town of Skykomish just a bit off-trail. It took me four full days in the wet to do miles that, otherwise, would've taken fewer than three.

Now, the question is what to do. The forecast for Stevens Pass is constantly changing, but includes some form of precipitation for at least the next two days. Still, once I'm a few miles and valleys away, the weather could be different—not necessarily radically different, but I'm learning that the difference between rain and no rain is a big one. Will there be a chance to dry out? Will it just be rain the whole time? Or will there be, like there was a few days ago, a surprise day with no rain at all?

Everything's up in the air, but one thing's for certain: the longer I stay still, the shorter the tolerable weather window becomes.