Washington Section J of the PCT, October 3 – 6, 2015

Autumn colors were exceptionally brilliant in Washington this year – maybe the warm dry summer and Fall had something to do with it. The high country of the Cascades is one of the best places to experience Fall colors, with every hue and shade of yellow, orange and red on display in the trees and undergrowth.

In early October I got to spend a little over 4 days enjoying the Fall colors in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, along WA Section J of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). WA Section J is one of the most scenic and challenging legs of the entire 2,650 mile long PCT, which runs from the Mexico border to the Canadian border through California, Oregon and Washington. This section of the PCT runs between popular trailheads at Snoqualmie Pass (PCT mile 2391) and Stevens Pass (PCT mile 2462). WA Section J is 71 miles long and has 18,000 feet of elevation gain running South to North.

This backpacking trip was unusual for me in two ways. First, it was a “through hike”, or a one-way hike starting from one trailhead and ending at another (in this case Stevens Pass south to Snoqualmie Pass). Second, this was my first light weight backpacking trip where the total weight carried was under 30 pounds. In fact, one of the main reasons for this trip was to test out some new light weight gear and backpacking techniques.

The trip was fantastic in many ways. The scenery was breathtaking, the weather was exceptional and hiking with such a light load felt nearly effortless compared to previous backpacking trips. Plus, the new gear and techniques worked very efficiently while keeping me comfortable and safe.

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