Pleasant Valley Loop & Goat Peak Hike

After work Friday, I drove up toward Chinook Pass for a hike. The hike up to Goat Peak is beautiful and terrible. It’s steep – about 3000′ of elevation gain in three miles – and the trail is not in great shape in some places. (This is largely due to the fire.) It’d be a good training hike — it’s just under nine miles, so it could be done as a day hike and it has a lot of elevation gain & loss — but the trail is in such bad shape in places I’m not sure I want to do it again anytime soon.

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I’ve lived my entire life in the Northern Hemisphere, and nearly all of that time I’ve been in the higher latitudes. A fairly consistent complaint I hear from my fellow humans is that they dislike winter. I get it: Not much daylight, and in maritime climates the sky seems grey all winter. The weather isn’t conducive to being outside, and it can make traveling – even just to work – challenging.

I don’t think I’ve ever been a winter-hater. I grew up in Seattle – one of those places where the skies are gunmetal grey from November to April, but where snow was also an infrequent treat. (And we almost never got enough snow to cancel school. Drat!) While I never teased out this thought in my head, I think I recognized the short winter days were a bookend to summer’s late sunsets. Or maybe I just figured there wasn’t much to be gained by complaining.

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This topic has been knocking around in my head for a few weeks now. It started on an evening I was standing in the yard of my suburban home – a yard lit by decorative solar lights and a decidedly undecorative & overly-bright street light. (There’s a 4-lane arterial behind our home.) Despite all this human-created light, there was a quality to the darkness that reminded me of night in the backcountry.

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PCT – Chinook Pass to Tacoma Pass

Last weekend, I hiked about forty miles of the PCT (Chinook Pass to Tacoma Pass). My original plan was to hike to Stampede Pass – another ten miles – but the shorter trip made for a better weekend.

I left work early Wednesday to get a jumpstart on the trail. I’m glad I did. Jim dropped me off at Chinook Pass about a quarter after seven. Truth be told, if I’d worked until five on Wednesday I probably wouldn’t have gotten to Chinook Pass until near-dark.

Jim drove east while I walked north
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