Monday, October 5, 2020

Day 54: A buggy day

August 2: I slept well during the night, but hit the trail at a relatively early 7:00am. I didn't need to get an early start. I was forced to stick to my permit system through the North Cascades National Park, and my campsite was a measly 12 miles away. But the bugs in the morning were already annoying and I wanted to escape them, so I left early.

A half hour into the day's hike, something bit or stung one of my fingers, and it hurt a shocking amount. It felt like someone stabbed a pin deep into my skin. I shouted out, "Oww!" and slapped my finger, trying to get whatever was on it off, but there was nothing. I looked at my finger, and there was a faint, red welt where the pain had been, but nothing that gave me any hint about what kind of insect might have caused such an excruciating bite.

Otherwise, the day's hike was largely uneventful. The flies were bad throughout the entire day, but they weren't biting so they were just a minor irritant. And while I was actually walking, they generally left me alone. It was only when I stopped for a rest that they'd swarm. I put on my thin, cotton gloves and a mosquito net on my head to keep the flies off. The long-sleeved shirt and long pants protected the rest of my body.

Because I had so little distance to cover and the trail was in such good shape, I could walk quickly, I took a couple of long, 2-hour breaks. I had the time! I didn't want to get into camp at noon then twiddle my thumbs for the rest of the day.

I passed a few people early in the day, but then saw absolutely nobody the last half of the day. Where were all the backpackers? This was the North Cascades National Park! In prime hiking season! Where were all the people?

Late in the afternoon, I came to a deer on the trail which proceeded to run away from me down the trail, and of course I kept following the trail, so the deer would run some more. This went on for probably 15 or 20 minutes. "Get off the trail!" I'd shout to the deer, but he ignored me and kept going down the trail. At one point, he dashed off the trail and I praised the Lord, "Yes! Thank you!" 

But it was a head fake. The trail had been switchbacking down a steep hill and I went around the switchback and found the deer on the trail ahead of me again. "Noooo!!!" Why are animals so stupid? Why couldn't it figure out that I was just following the trail and if it just stepped off the trail, I'd go by and never see it again.

At the end of the day, I arrived at Stillwell Camp. My maps weren't entirely correct describing this area, though, and the campsite turned out to be two miles closer than I had expected, and located about a half-mile off trail. I was a little annoyed about this since it brought today's mileage down to 10.2, but it meant I had to make up the extra 2 miles tomorrow (so over 14 miles). I wanted to even out my mileage as much as possible and two consecutive 12-mile days was more preferable to me than a 10-mile then a 14-mile day.


And my maps were just completely and utterly incorrect. The mileage marker it listed would have been accurate if I walked along a creek for a mile, crossed the creek on a bridge, walked back to where the campsite was on the other side, then bushwhacked through some brush to the creek and forded the creek. Which was absurd--I wasn't going to do that. Nobody would have done that. I think whoever labelled this map just didn't understand the terrain. They'd never actually been out here. The campsite actually was near the trail at that point, but it required a bushwhack and ford to access from that point and whoever created the map didn't realize that. They just looked at the map, saw the campsite right "next" to the trail and pinned the distance for the campsite to that point. But the actual, official route to the campsite was the half-mile spur-trail located two miles before that point.

All-in-all, I was quite upset about this. I ended up getting into camp nearly an hour earlier than expected, and I now had an hour extra of hiking tomorrow. But I had to remind myself that even if I knew this before I got my permit, I wouldn't have changed anything. This was still the closest point I could camp to even out the day's hike with tomorrow's hike. I'd have preferred if they just built a trail and bridge at the campsite instead of the half-mile spur trail where they did. *grumbling* then a two-mile loop around the creek to cross at a bridge a mile away.

My feet were still in good shape and not causing me any trouble, so I was surprised when I took off my shoes and found a fairly large blister on the back heel of my right foot. Where did that come from?! I called it Surprise since, it was such a huge surprise. =) At least it didn't hurt, though, and I went ahead and popped it to help prevent it from getting bigger.

The North Cascades NP really went all out for their sign marking the boundary of the park. Good thing I had a map because otherwise, I might not have even known which national park I was entering! ;o)

Luna Peak

The most difficult sections of trail today were these open areas in the sun that had become heavily overgrown. But they tended to be short sections that I could get through in 5 or so minutes.

Beautiful, delicious water! =)

Shelter at Beaver Pass. I took a two-hour lunch break in front of it. =)

The shelter was not meant for camping!

I 'chased' this deer down the trail for probably 15 or 20 minutes before it finally got off the trail.

Surprise blister! =) I am happy to report, however, that my karks were doing well.


Mike said...

How bad was the bushwhack? If it wasn't too steep or too thick, it could have been an opportunity to slackpack for those two miles.

Mary said...

I don’t understand why a wide open shelter in good condition would be closed and for emergency use only. Does rain count as emergency use?

Ryan said...

I think the shelter is preserved as a historical building. This region requires a permit for camping, and they just don't issue permits for the shelter. Even if there was no sign, nobody could legally be camping there anyhow.

Rain is not an emergency. People should be prepared to camp in rain as needed.