Day 158: (15 miles)
Today was “shortcut” day. I know we should have learned by now that “short cuts” don’t necessarily mean they’re “short” OR “easier”. While this one lopped off 10 miles distance wise, it did not take 10 miles of wear and tear off our feet. In fact, we think this alternate (and approved) trail added 20 additional miles to our feet and especially my knees. This morning started with spending an extra hour trying to find and get to the trailhead that leads to the Goldmeyer alternate. Why, you wonder did we seek out and brave this route? Why a dip and soak in the famous Goldmeyer Hot Springs of course! This route is approximately 25 miles till it intersects again with the PCT. It is 11 miles to the hot springs. The trail initially takes you to Snow Lake, which is beautiful and inviting, but this was not our destination.
Beyond there, the trail got dicey. It was down right awful! Although it appeared that the vegetation had been ” groomed” and cut back, for which we were supremely grateful, 2 miles (of course) of it was treacherous. Steep and wet we descend nearly 3000 feet in about 2 miles. The trail is narrow and fraught with tripping hazards that my feet seem to gravitate to.
There was also a lovely rock/boulder section. We were however treated to a view of a seriously tall cascading waterfall nearly 1000 feet tall. After the steep descent we transitioned into a scary dark, dank forest, where everything not moving was covered in thick bright green moss, and the air was reminiscent of Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Yo-Ho, Yo-Ho… trickled into my head. Evidence of logging days gone by percolated to the surface, with massive decomposing tree stumps dotting the terrain and thick rusted steel cables sparsely exposed peeked through the blanket of spongy green moss.
Not all of the old growth trees had been sacrificed in the name of progress, as trees over 20 feet in diameter, and a thousand (if not more) years of age, loomed above us and graced the edges of the trail. The wear and tear of our descent wained at these sights.
A brief lapse in concentration during a stream crossing resulted in a foot soaker for me, and a snicker from Paul. One more obstacle to negotiate before access to the hot springs…a triple log crossing over the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie river.
Without even thinking much about it, I deftly crossed without a worry, to which Paul memorialized with a photo. It only took me over 2400 miles to overcome river log-crossing anxiety…or at least suppress it enough to be successful. A short walk up into the private property of the Goldmeyer conservation area and we were at the caretaker’s cottage where we purchased access to the Hot Springs. While it was not remotely anything we had pictured, it was well worth the effort to get there and the cost.
A long tunnel like cave with a near chest deep pool dispensed the over 104 degree luxurious water into two other built-in shallow pools (think kiddie pool). An icy, spring fed pool made up the fourth pool. We spent over 2 hours there soaking our battered feet and bodies until we were shriveled. Invigorated and relatively pain free we set off for another 5 miles. Our destination, horse camp. We were not unaware, but had briefly forgotten that we were at the bottom of a deep canyon which necessitated a “climb” out of it. Our next 5 miles would be up…duh! Along the way were two springs we had hoped to water up at to avoid having to take the time to filter. The first, pictured below, was tepid and although it did not smell, it tasted super sulfury.
The second was fed from a pipe stuffed into the ground and filled an overflowing plastic barrel. This was icy cold and had a slight sulfur taste. The trail was not unkind to our feet, but required concentration, which was difficult being that there was so much beauty to absorb.
It wasn’t long before we reached horse camp and a raised/flat campsite. We had one of our the best night’s sleep on the trail.