As we looked down upon Snoqualmie Pass, the setting sun was casting a golden light on the mountains all around us. Cars rushed by on I-90 below, everyone in a hurry to go somewhere. It was as if we had entered a foreign land after returning from the wilderness, and perhaps it has become foreign to me. But anyhow it felt wonderful to be there as a change of pace, to know that we would be meeting more amazing people. Also, to be able to do things like laundry, taking a shower, and eating a dinner that you can't cook on the trail. We anticipated visiting Art at Aardvark and to have a filling meal. Thanks to the kindness of so many people that we had met on the trail, we hadn't been lacking in food that day. But hiker hunger had set in, and a burger sounded delicious!
We took the worn shortcut - probably traversed by hundreds of other hikers - down the ski slopes.
We arrived at Aardvark, a gourmet food cart sitting outside of a gas station. Sure enough, as Tim the runner had told us, Art was working that night. We still had to check into the hotel, and though Aardvark's closing time would be in a half hour, Art told us not to hurry. He said that he didn't mind staying open longer for us.
Next door at the Summit Inn we met Sunny, who checked us into our room. She already recognized Freebird from his previous thru-hikes and was excited to see him again. Sunny offered us a room away from the noisy I-90 that was close to the laundry room.
Leaving our packs in the room, we returned to Aardvark. We arrived just before closing, and Art gladly stayed open to cook us some dinner. We ordered a burger, the Hurry Curry bowl, and a ginger chicken wrap. All three were so delicious that I could easily be persuaded to never leave Snoqualmie.
|Sunrise the next morning, as seen from the hotel window.|
In the morning we just merely walked down the hallway and we were inside of Summit Pancake House. We ordered their I-90 Special which included pancakes. As requested, the cook mixed into the pancakes the blueberries we found on the trail at no extra charge. He and the waitress were just thrilled to meet someone else who collected wild edibles. The waitress had never heard of Chicken-of-the-Woods, so we gave her directions to the tree we found, off of which grew probably 100 pounds. Later on that day we gave her half of the Ziploc that we had harvested.
After breakfast we walked down the street to St. Bernard's Chapel to attend Sunday morning service. At this quaint, interdenominational parish we met lots of friendly, humble people, both Catholics and Baptists. They began this church together years ago to have somewhere nearby to worship on the Sabbath. The pastor was very laid-back, wearing sweats and sweatshirt. Unlike other churches I've been to, it was evident that this pastor knew what really mattered. He didn't take the frivolous things like outward appearance seriously. He shared with us a very simple, yet powerful message. Part of his sermon reminded us that a "U-turn starts with you." Our perspective on life, the way we treat others, and the way we treat ourselves is all our choice. If we're unhappy with the way we've been living, it's never too late to turn things around. He shared his personal story of how he's come to feel peace within, and lovingly wished the same for all of us. After the service, we met many of the parishioners and were given homemade sticky buns and other sweets.
Then we left for Summit Inn to pack up our belongings and to return the room keys. Sunny and Omar, the housekeeper, allowed us to stay after checkout to use the room phone and the guest computer.
We returned to Aardvark for one last lunch before heading back to the trail. Art was there once again, along with his brother Dan (the owner). While they prepared lunch, Freebird resupplied our trail food in the gas station while I pulled an assortment of dinners and snacks out of the hiker box. Dan allowed us to buy an onion from him (he was willing to give it to us for free), since it wasn't sold in the store. We packaged everything into Ziplocs and then ate another burger and more Hurry Curry. We packed up the remaining curry and saved it for dinner.
As we were putting on our packs and walking away, two men stopped us to ask if we were thru-hikers. One of the men, who was from Wisconsin and went to school at Purdue, had visited Washington years ago and decided to move here because of the beauty. The two men were well-acquainted with the area and recommended different routes ahead to get off of the PCT.
Why leave the trail? Due to a phone conversation I had with my father that day, I knew I must return to a town soon to do an errand for him. So these men advised to us that we depart via a side trail, walk past Pete Lake, and then hitch into town from there.
We passed by the Aardvark to say farewell to Art and Dan, and ventured back to the trail,
carrying our treasure of Hurry Curry, as well as the heartfelt message from that pastor, with us. Our stay in Snoqualmie had been wonderful, as we continued to meet so many kind people who teach me by their example and who renew my faith in humanity. Leaving Snoqualmie behind, we began the transition into the North Cascades. Alpine Lakes Wilderness, here we come!