The Cabin and the Ram Bomb
Beginning Elevation = 5,750
Ending Elevation = 4,750
Elevation Range = 4,750 – 6,500
Weather: Cloudy fog, turned mostly cloudy, high 70°F
I was packed up and ready to roll at 6:30am. Calzone and Cheer looked to be awake but hadn’t emerged from their tents yet, so I decided I’d get going solo again.
The trail left the shores of Sheep Lake and proceeded to go up. It was about 1.2 miles and 600 feet up to Sourdough Gap. As I approached the gap, which was a saddle where the trail cut through the higher, more rugged, and steep mountains, I got to look down on our campsite at Sheep Lake.
Once through, things opened up again and the morning light seemed to be shining through the cloud layers in sporadic ways.
I walked along a relatively flat trail for a while, traversing along the sides of the mountains. Pretty pretty stuff…
I hadn’t gone long though before I witnessed the clouds rolling in from overtop the mountain above me. I even got a time lapse of the cloud movement.
Even so, I still was getting clear views out to the valley below…
That is until I popped over the ridge to the western side where the wind was blowing the warm air up. This side had the classic foggy vapor cloud that I’ve come to know so well.
It wasn’t really so bad other than it blocked me from seeing out. The trail didn’t have overgrown brush, so I wasn’t getting wet from that like I’ve had before. And it wasn’t raining or misting, but the air was saturated enough that it was condensing to the tree branches above. So, whenever the trail would wind its way beneath trees, I’d get a few drips.
Around 9:00am ish I found a nice spot for breakfast. It was on the less cloudy side of the ridge and had a bit of a wind block, which I was thrilled about. Got my puffy and beanie on and enjoyed a good hour and fifteen minute break or so. I had some cell service, which was a nice treat too. Afterwards, the sky seemed to have cleared up some and I could actually see the valley that I had been looking out at…
And Mount Rainier peaked out from behind the clouds…
I was loving this stretch of trail!
Just after taking the picture below, I met a group of 4 ladies hiking coming the opposite direction who asked if I could take their picture. I think I was the first thru-hiker they’d met and so they were pretty pumped about the whole thing. They told me that for two of them this was their first time ever camping outside. And they also gave me some on-trail trail magic of some fancy beef jerky and cheese. They were hiking out today and said they didn’t want it, plus she said it’s her company that sells it.
The rest of my hike I seemed to be in the zone, just trekking. The trail went through a large burned area, but still had some nice overlooks. And there always seems to be that haunting kind of beauty to the burned areas. I had another solo break for lunch, no sign of Calzone and Cheer. Eventually, I got back into some nice green healthy forest that was very lush
I made it to the Government Meadows aka Mike Urich Cabin at 5:00pm and had the place to myself. The cabin is right adjacent to the trail and was built and run by the Snow-Jammers Snowmobile Club as well as the US Forest Service. It’s a true log cabin and consists of a porch, one single room with a wood stove at the back center, and a nice cozy loft. There was a cooler full of trail magic someone had dropped off too! It sits at the edge of a wide, beautiful meadow…
My plan was to wait here for a half hour or so and see if Calzone and Cheer showed up. To pass the time I enjoyed some Cool Ranch Doritos and a Mountain Dew. Classic. And, I decided I’d split a little wood with the maul they had hanging up! You know, keep the blood pumping…
As I was writing a note to C and C telling them I’d gone ahead, a guy walked up and we started chatting. He lived somewhere in Washington around here and was doing some two tracking on the forest roads. He’d been out here often and we talked of different camping stories and such. A hiker called Pop Rocks came while we were chatting too and then came Calzone, so it worked out great.
Others joined too, Cheer included, and TW! We all had a great time hanging on the porch, eventually getting out our stoves and making our dinners and even partaking in a few Rainier beers, which seems to be the local “cheep beer” of choice.
I also got to try something that I had not yet experienced on trail. Something that earlier on, because I had not done this thing, caused someone to make the claim that I was not truly a thru-hiker. I’m of course talking about feasting on what is commonly known among thru-hikers as the ramen bomb, or as I learned can be shortened to “ram bomb.” The basic idea is that its a mix of ramen noodles with instant mashed potatoes. Now I’ve heard of folks using a whole package of the mashed potatoes, but my comrades at the cabin alerted me that this is a poor choice. It’s just just too much. And so, with their wise guidance, I succeeded in my goal, thus elevating me to true thru-hiker status! My personal combination was beef flavored noodles with loaded baked potato flavored tators. I quite liked the creation.
I utilized about half the potatoes packet. The four of us stayed out on the porch the longest. The other hikers had been excited to make a fire inside the wood stove, so they were hanging in there mostly. And eventually, we all found our places to sleep.
The four of us took the loft along with Katy from England. View and Pop Rocks took the lower level and Two Pounds, Professor, Locomo, and a lady who joined late set up tents outside nearby. They were the smart ones I think!
All was well to begin with…
There were hooks on which we could hang our packs and keep away from the mice. So we all settled in. One problem for me was just the noise of 5 other hikers in a room, some with crinkly air mattresses. But the other issue was that the folks down stairs (or actually down ladder) were at war with the mice it seemed! We all maybe tried to sleep a little after 9:00pm, and the battle raged until around 11:00pm when it quieted down and I fell asleep!