Yesterday, Jonathan Guzzo and I hiked the Catwalk with my dog, Gede. It’s about 10 miles round trip and a challenging, but not exhausting hike. The 360% views of mountains were extraordinary and what makes this hike one of the best in the Snoqualmie Pass area. You felt as if you could reach out and touch a mountain across the Commonwealth Basin that was two miles away from you–the trees, rocks and water were so pristinely visible. Rainier was more clear and beautiful than any other viewing I’ve ever had of her (I’ve never gotten closer than Alpine Lakes). We could also see Mt. Stuart and Mt. Adams. The walk takes you through a great variety of alpine terrain: dense forest (with lots of old growth), talus-strewn rock fields, exposed switchbacks. The only thing it lacks is a lake (which is available a little farther down the trail at Ridge Lake).
Jonathan is Director of Backcountry Advocacy for Washington Trails Association (WTA) and a wonderful hiking partner. I require two things in a good hiking partner-someone who’s a good conversationalist, but also someone who appreciates the outdoors and the need for silence in the face of immense beauty. He had that in spades. WTA is a great organization which repairs and maintains Washington State backcountry trails and lobbies in Olympia for greater funding to preserve wilderness. I recommend that you take a look at their website.
Kendall Catwalk is one of my three favorite hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The others are Melakwa Lakes and Lennox Creek. Oddly, Jonathan and I had intended to hike Lennox Creek, but some dumb road maintenance crew had closed the only road that took us to the trailhead. So we did a quick turnaround and decided on the Catwalk.
We met an interesting pair of Canadian backpackers doing the PCT from the Oregon-Washington border all the way to Canada. One of them dressed all in black with rippling arms browned by the sun. He had long hair and lots of facial hair. At home, he and his hiking partner drove gravel trucks for the Surrey, BC local government. They were union members and clearly pissed off at their current Liberal provincial government which had just reduced the minimum wage from $8 to $6 (Canadian). He thought this was a lame thing to do to the poor folks stuck in low-paying jobs. “What are they supposed to do, where are they supposed to go, how can they ever get anything better if all they can make is $6 an hour.”
If this guy had been American and say from Montana or Arkansas or Louisiana you’d practically know the kinds of things he might say and believe. He’d be conservative, he be against big government, he’d be into sports like football or wrestling. But being from Canada, this guy broke the American stereotypes.
It reminded me of a ER doctor who served on the board of the Orange County (CA.) Jewish charity for which I worked. He was from New York, but after moving to libertarian Orange County he didn’t believe many of the things that a New York doctor would. He was against the separation of church and state. He believed that the state should provide aid to religious (which for him meant Jewish) schools. Whereas a doctor New York looking at the exact same question wouldn’t have defined it this way at all. Geography (or is it social infuence?) changes people.
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