One memorable morning we woke up in the dark to damp fog and slogged up a ridge for a couple hours. Just as we were getting frustrated with the terrain, we rounded a bend near the apex of the cliff and caught a glimpse of huge Mt. Rainier's flanks. As we walked on, more and more of her came into view until the entire mountain towered above us . The clouds had lifted during our climb and we could see the peak, the glaciers, and all the lush evergreens at the base. In the still morning, looking at this spectacular wall of rock and ice, we even heard elk calling.
The sounds of the forest pervade our every waking moment. Some calls, like the wheezy whale song of the elk are more noteworthy. But I'm sure I'll miss the simple trail noises when we're back to the city: crows gargling overhead as their wings whooshed with every flap, smaller birds' "eep-eep-eep" from the trees, pika with their alarm calls that sound like a dog's squeaky toy and chipmunks "cheeping" their warnings from the underbrush, all the while a chorus of bees and flies carry on a din of buzzing in the background. Of course, sometimes we listen to our iPods or spin the radio dial in hopes of getting some ballgame scores or NPR news. But those sounds of civilization don't compare to the magic of an owl hooting in the dark as you drift off to sleep in your tent.
We have two more weeks to soak in the sights and smells of the trail, and they will be tough.Some of the steepest climbs of the trail are ahead. Weather is also a factor this far north and we're fully expecting rain and snow at some point. No matter the terrain or weather, hopefully these next 250 miles will go smoothly. We are in the home stretch and I'm itchy to get back to the real world.