|Waking up to perhaps the best sunrise of my life! =)|
Once I got hiking, the trail headed down from Glacier Peak through a series of thick blowdowns. Enormous trees--some the biggest I've ever seen blocking the trail--and a lot of them. It quickly grew frustrating and annoying. The biggest tree of them all left me wondering how to get to the other side. The tree was laying on its side, but was so thick, the thickness of the truck was taller than I stood. Getting under it wasn't an option. And both ends stretched out into the thick brush on both sides. The tree, at first glance, seemed impossible to get around.
Close up, I could see a few small bumps that I could use as handholds and footholds and finally decided to go over the tree, and I scrambled up without pulling too many muscles. Once I made it up to the top of the trunk, though, I started having second thoughts. Getting down the other side looked positively dangerous! There might be footholds down there, but I couldn't see them from my vantage point. I walked along the length of the tree a bit, trying to figure out the best place to get down at. I didn't want to break a leg by jumping down from this height!
One step at a time. First, I'd lower my pack down with a rope. I could have dropped the pack, but no reason to be any harder on it than was strictly necessary. I pulled out a length of rope, attached it to the loop at the top of the page, and started lowering it down the other side. The pack was still heavy, though, and its weight started to get away from me, pulling the rope through my fingers a little quicker than I anticipated, and I finally let go completely when it was halfway day due to rope burn. Crap! The pack dropped hard the rest of the way, and I threw the rest of the rope down after it, and I sucked at my hand where I suffered the rope burn. I felt a little stupid to have not identified that as a potential problem. Had I wrapped the rope around my wrist so it couldn't slide through my fingers so easily, it wouldn't have been a problem. Oh well.... At least my pack was down, and that would make it a little easier to get myself down.
The bridge across the Suiattle River was missing, the last of the bridges washed away from the 2003 flooding and the only reason the PCT was officially still detoured around the east side of Glacier Peak. The river didn't look too bad, though. Certainly rambunctious, but no worse than the river crossings in the High Sierras. I didn't even need to get my feet wet, though. A log had fallen across the river, and it was clear that that was what people were using to get across, and I followed suit.
I had reservations about using the natural bridge, though. It was pretty high over the river. If I slipped or fell, it could have been a serious injury. The creek fed through a narrow channel at this point, fast and furious. Had I crossed the creek directly, I'd go downstream where it was slower and shallower. The log bridge looked solid and dry, though, and I decided it wasn't too bad and went for it. If it was wet, I'd definitely have forded the river on foot. A wet, slippery log just wouldn't be worth the risk.
About halfway across the log, I decided that a dry, non-slippery log wasn't worth the risk either. I was looking down at my feet--you have to, to make sure of your footing--and you can't help but notice that fast-churning water far below. Big breaths. Steady, Ryan..... This is so not the place to get a panic attack! I was already halfway across when I started losing my nerve, though. Going back would be just as dangerous as to continue forward, so I kept pushing forward, one slow step at a time.
|Okay, that's the last of the sunrise photos.....|
I just love how you can see the sunlight streaking through
the mountain ridges in this photo. =)
A short distance further up the trail, I caught up with White Beard and Third Monty, and we compared notes about the Suiattle River crossing. Third Monty admitted that crossing the log made her so nervous, she scooted across on her butt. White Beard walked across it, but didn't much care for the experience either. =)
The rest of the day was uneventful. Somewhere along the way, I passed the 100-mile mark--less than 100 miles to the Canadian border! I was tempted to mark the moment in rocks on the trail, but by late afternoon, the clouds started to look like rain and I pushed on hoping to beat the rain. It did start to sprinkle, and I stopped at Hemlock Camp for the night before it turned into a heavy rain.
Hemlock Camp is perhaps the cutest backcountry camp I've ever had the privilege to use, with trails lined by solar powered lights and an elaborate entrance with a welcome sign. It was only 5:00 in the afternoon, but by golly, I managed to have my tarp up and was safe and dry underneath before the heavy rains started without a moment to spare.
|It was a beautiful morning!|
|Some sort of nest in this tree.... Wasps? I don't really know my insects very well. =)|
|There was no one around to put in the photo to get a sense|
of scale of three tree, so I put my trekking pole in the photo.
The darn thing was as tall as I was!
|I made it up the tree, but how to get down safely? In this photo, I already|
dropped my trekking pole down the other side, but I hadn't lowered
my pack down with a rope yet.
|You can see the original bridge that used to go across this creek|
on the far shore. This creek was positively easy to get
across hopping on rocks, though. This wasn't the Suiattle River, either!
|This blowdown I decided to go under. There were probably over|
a hundred trees blocking the trail along this section. Very annoying,
and it slowed me down considerably!
|The Suiattle River was a ferocious little thing!|
|It's so green, you'd think we were in a rain forest!|
(Technically, I don't think this counts as one, but it's certainly typical
|Nearing a pass, but I forget what it's called.|
|Clouds are starting grow increasingly angry!|
|Hemlock Camp is open for business! =) So I did my business.....|
|Such a cute campsite. They really out-did themselves here!|