Saturday, February 5, 2011

Around Glacier Peak

Sunrise from camp!
September 14: I woke up to howling winds on Red Pass. My tarp protected me from the worst of it, but I had actually set it up to protect me from condensation which turned out not to be a problem at all. Funny how things work out.

The trail dropped back down into a tree-filled canyon for much of the morning, but by afternoon, it was back above the treeline with million dollar views in every direction. The trail wound around the west side of Glacier Peak so close that I could see the crevasses in the glaciers. Spectacular!

I caught up with two more hikers early in the afternoon, White Beard and Third Monty. This wasn't completely unexpected since Colter had mentioned that they were just ahead when I hiked with him the day before. I hadn't met either of them before, but White Beard had a thick, white beard and I assumed that must be him. =) What I did not know, however, was that White Beard was 70 years old and could kick the ass of people half his age. Holy cow! I did, admittedly, move faster than he hiked, but not by much. And yes, White Beard was a thru-hiker, having started from the Mexican border. And, in fact, this was the second time he was thru-hiking the PCT after having done it his first time in his 60s. I hope I'm still that active in 2045 when I turn 70! =)

Today, I'd pass Glacier Peak.
I'm not sure about the age of his wife, Third Monty, and it seemed kind of rude to ask so I didn't. She might not have been 70, and while I don't want to call her "old," she definitely wouldn't need to be carded either. Those two are nothing short of inspirational, though, and we passed each other several times during the afternoon as we took snack breaks along the way.

High on a ridge, I looked down on the canyon where Milk Creek rushed through at the bottom, with Glacier Peak to the east, when a low-flying aircraft flew over the ridge, just above Milk Creek. A practice bombing run? The jet was so low, it was actually flying below me, and I couldn't help but be a little envious of the pilot of the plane. While the noise was loud and obnoxious, it was still pretty cool seeing that plane hugging the ground below me.

Much of the trail along this section was severely overgrown, except going down into Milk Creek where it looked like they rerouted the trail and I saw evidence of blasting along the trail. Nobody was working on the trail then, and the trail seemed to meander a lot longer than I expected before crossing the bridge at Milk Creek. It took at least a solid hour longer than I expected, which annoyed me to no end. Best I could figure, the trail had been rerouted and added an extra three-or-so miles I hadn't planned on. Blah. For awhile, I thought maybe I had taken a wrong turn somewhere and was going in the wrong direction--surely I should have crossed Milk Creek by now? But I never saw any other turnoff, so I kept going forward. It wasn't until I crossed Milk Creek and finally started heading back up the other side that I was confident I was going in the correct direction, and on the other side I spotted a junction in the trail that I figured was the end of the reroute. I never caught the beginning of the reroute, but it was nice to realize that I wasn't going crazy.

Much of the morning was spent
in the trees.
Coming out of Milk Creek, the trail climbed a steep slope in a seemingly endless serious of switchbacks, which I affectionately called Bitch Mountain because I bitched so much about it while going up. =) It went up a south-facing slope where few trees grew, and the sun beat down unmercifully, climbing a couple of thousand feet while the overgrown brush ripped at my arms and legs. You bet I was doing a lot of bitching!

I finally reached the top of the mountain late in the afternoon, and pushed on several more miles until just after sunset, stopping to camp at Dolly Vista.

The views from Dolly Vista were nothing short of awesome. I camped under a small cluster of trees cowboy style--the first time I hadn't used my tarp in the whole state of Washington! Condensation hadn't been bad the night before, and I figured the cluster of trees would help protect me from any condensation that otherwise would form. The campsite was largely above treeline, though. Except for the few trees in the campsite, there weren't any others nearby providing a huge, expansive view.

Blasting! Oh boy! I new kind of obstacle to overcome! =) Even if this sign
was posted two years ago. Even if someone wrote in that blasting continues the
year after that. Nothing about blasting in 2010, but who knows?

I understood the symbol for an outhouse, but I wasn't
sure what the PCT sign attached to it was about.
(Well, the PCT and arrow part I understood. I wasn't sure about
the writing below it, though.)

I think this bridge needs to be fixed....

Glacier Peak in all its glory!

White Beard and Third Monty up ahead!

This trail looks freshly built--and that rock looks like it would have
required a bit of blasting to get through!

There's a trail in there somewhere....

There's still a trail in there somewhere.....
(Notice Glacier Peak in the background.)

What a wonderful photo of Glacier Peak with the moon rising behind it! =)
At first, I thought that was a small hole in the ridge in the front. Cool, an arch!
When I got closer, I realized it was just a patch of unmelted snow. Oh, well....

Canada is out there somewhere.... I could almost smell it!

It's been awhile since I had an icky-foot photo. =) They look bad, and they're
always a little sore, but despite how bad they might look, it doesn't really actually hurt much! =)
It's mostly just dirt that can easily be washed off in water.


Heather Martin said...

Incredible pictures. I would love to see those views in person. Jealous!


veganf said...

Those views are amazing, even the one in the trees...well all but the last one!

Muddy Paws said...

Beautiful photos! I would love to hike this section. Can't wait to find out what happens next ;-)

sarcasmo said...

WOW! Gorgeous mtn fotos! THat was a steep trail in sections. Coulda done without the foot picture. I nearly tossed my Cheezits.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I'm very impressed by White Beard and Third Monty. It's great to see a married couple enjoying the same activities together well into their old age. Especially physical outdoor activities.
My grandparents enjoyed their time together, but were very sedentary watching game shows until they died.
I don't want to be like that, though.
Do you think Amanda and you will be hiking the PCT and AT together in your 70s?

You still have the Continental Divide Trail to conquer....

Hike On!
~Twinville Trekkers