Day 153: (21.22 miles)
mile 2313 – 2334.22
Froze our buns off last night. Surprised to see it didn’t snow and that our water bottles were still liquid. The rain was on and off all night. This morning the rain has stopped, but a low foggy cloud floats above us. We dress, eat breakfast, and pack our bags in the tent. The last thing is to put our soaking wet shoes on. At first it’s not that bad, but within minutes our socks are wet and the cold begins to penetrate our feet. “Walk em dry. Walk em warm” we mutter. With a loud sigh we begin to walk. The air is misty, but we are safe under our rain gear.
We pass many small lakes and brackish ponds along the trail with small campsites occupied by weekend hikers. Most are still asleep in their warm sleeping bags. We are so jealous. Within a few hours the low hanging cloud begins to lift and the weather improves. By lunch our shoes are nearly dry. We pass many weekenders going both directions near Dewey Lake, and another small, but pristine pond just before the highway.
We know we are getting close to a trail head as they tend to only hike a few miles. Three miles later we reach hwy 40, a large parking lot and best of all Coppertone! Unfortunately, the weather had made a turn for the worst and has plumaged to 42 degrees. We told Coppertone we have to pass on his famous root beer floats and he offered hot tea instead. We enjoyed the tea, blueberry muffins, and pumpkin pie along with great conversation.
Before departing Coppertone took our picture on top of the PCT bridge, the entrance to Mt. Rainer National Park. We hiked the last two miles to Sheep Lake, made camp and and prepared for another wet cold night. The lake was rather crowded, and the masses apparently were illiterate and could not read and/or obviously chose to ignore the ridiculously bright and perfectly placed, “FIRES PROHIBITED” signs on the trail and the side trails to campsite areas. We would have liked to have a fire also, as we were “butt ass” cold (especially after Paul had walked his shoes dry only to slip and fall into the lake whilst collecting water for dinner and breakfast the next morning), but we understand why fires were prohibited. Hardly any tree limbs were near any of the campsites, and Washington has recently had some outrageous wildfires. Dewey Lake (in a National Forest) was fire free as well, but they had signs explaining why it was closed to campfires. They also had campsite areas closed for “rehabilitation”. I think they should have added a frank explanation as well, something along the lines of, ‘This area is closed because stupid humans can’t seem to pack out their trash (to include TP), bury their shit, and stop hacking off limbs of live trees to build campfires that are prohibited’. I tend to think that would be more effective than a “PC” (politically correct) sign…”Area closed for rehabilitation “. Just say’n.