Mile 2270 to 2290
In terms of tours it appears we selected the terrifying one. The wind picked up in the night and now howls with gale force. If you stood outside my tent you would assume that an oversized hippopotamus has crawled inside and is now struggling to get back out. Outside the stars are sparkling clear and bright. The views from the Knife’s Edge must be spectacular, but you would have to look quickly because you will be flying off the edge to your death. I fall back asleep hoping the wind will die rather than me.
I wake encouraged by calm air and then notice the normally present stars are all gone. Something is blocking my view. I rise to pee and notice the entire camp is shrouded in fog. With no wind we will be able to cross in safety, but we will not be able to see a darn thing. As if to punish me for my whiny thoughts, the wind returns and it brings along a friend – rain. You have got to be kidding me. We shout at each other from our tents trying to decide what to do. We only plan 19 miles today so we agree to wait an hour or so for a break, but at some point we just have to go for it.
By 7:30 we figure we have got to hike. We are running low on food so waiting for a better day is not an option. On my map ap I can see a binocular icon which indicates there is a great viewpoint for Mount Rainier. We hope we can climb above the fog cloud and at least look over at the part of that mountain also above the clouds. As we hike up towards the Knife’s Edge we see occasional blue sky and the jagged ridge line. It is clearly a serrated knife. We are patting ourselves on the back for our great timing, until suddenly someone turns up the fog machine and all our progress is erased by white.
As we work our way onto and across the Knife’s Edge it is clear this knife is dishwasher safe, because we are hiking through the foamy rinse cycle. We are pummeled by wet freezing fog screaming from our lower left, going through our bones and somehow exiting our upper right. The left side of our faces are beginning to frost.
We are able to enjoy spectacular views of our feet, which are frequently near the ground. It is a sheer drop on either side, but frankly feels like I am back climbing Mt Whitney in the dark – I can’t see anything.
I do get one lucky break. As I approach the Mt Rainier viewpoint the fog lifts just enough that I can barely make out the faint outline of the binocular icon on my smartphone. As for Mount Rainier, it is clearly down for maintenance because there is absolutely nothing that direction.
The Knife’s Edge is a lot longer than indicated by the icon on the map. It keeps going and going, and we keep getting wetter and wetter until finally we reach super saturation. Go ahead. Try to make me wetter. I dare you!
After we drop off the edge and down, the weather changes completely. The clouds keep rolling in but burn up about as fast as they arrive. We work our way down and then back up by Hogback Mountain. We eventually crash at small campsite by Ginnette Lake, just 2 miles short of tomorrow’s roadwalk to the White Pass Kracker Barrel.