Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie – #1003

June 15th, 2014

Looking forward to testing out this great gift!  Thanks Clara.

Looking forward to testing out this great gift! Thanks Clara.

I’ve been spoiled again with the perfect fathers day weekend – Friday – picking up an awesome kayak as a gift from Clara for fathers day and my birthday (still coming up); Saturday hauling a load of ‘stuff’ from my garage that will find new homes when it is resold to raise funds for a school, then stopping off for Bourbon ice cream (yes it is a key ingredient) at Snoqualmie Ice Cream and ending the day watching a movie; sleeping in until well past 8:00 on Sunday morning, getting up to eggs benedict and espresso, hearing from the kids, a walk in the woods, and coming home to a surf and turf dinner.

About that walk in the woods – While Barclay Lake has been a good standby, I’ve been scouting around to broaden choices for trails that are easy for the smaller crowd, and less challenging for the acrophobic, but that still offer scenic rewards. This weekend, I convinced Dave G. to check out the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie trail with me. After a delicious lunch (como bread, liver pate, cappicola, cambazola etc.) – thanks Clara – we headed east on I-90 towards the mountains. Crossing Lake Washington, we went from light drizzle into full rain storm, but in Seattle you can’t let a little rain deter you, and besides, looking ahead there were a few holes where bright blue sky was visible through the clouds.

Middle Fork Trailhead with Dave G.

Middle Fork Trailhead with Dave G.

Travelling from Seattle to exit 34, just east of North Bend took about 45 minutes, and after a short drive north past the TA truck stop, we turned east (right for the challenged) on SE Middle Fork Road. For the next couple of years, the road will be under construction, with an anticipated completion of paving in 2016, so keep your eyes open for closures or delays.  Despite the steady drizzle, a number of cars were pulled out at various spots along the river and white water kayaking was in full swing.  After a few miles of asphalt, then ~ 10 miles of gravel we reached the trail head. The last 0.25 miles were pretty rutted, but there were several cars in the parking lot. As I pulled on my trail boots, I also got out the rain shell, since there was a constant drizzle, and the patches of blue sky had disappeared.

Through the trees the granite peaks played in the mist.

Through the trees the granite peaks played in the mist.

The valley and surrounding ranges that comprise the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie watershed are developing into an outdoor wonderland.  From the lush lower lands along the river, to the tributary rivers and creeks and upstream to the Alpine Lakes, there are trails for walking, climbing, cycling or horseback riding, not to mention kayaking and fishing in the rivers and creeks.  This should be fair warning – if you are looking for solitude you might want to find a more remote location. Even on this rain soaked afternoon we met a number of outdoor enthusiasts.  If however, you need a convenient fix of classic Northwest forest and river, soon to be accessible by the luxury of a paved road, this is a great place to come.

All along the trail, the forest floor was a lush carpet of ferns and mosses along with patches of salmon berries and clumps of devils club.

All along the trail, the forest floor was a lush carpet of ferns and mosses along with patches of salmon berries and clumps of devils club.

Stepping out of the truck and into this landscape  I feel an immediate sense of home.  Having grown up in the countryside near Chilliwack BC, and as a child, having traipsed around in the hills and along the Chilliwack and Vedder rivers, this setting is  familiar.  Moss covered trees, lush undergrowth, devils club reaching up to 10 ft or more, leaves dripping with dew (or in this case raindrops) and salmon berries in their orange and red hues are all happy reminders of my youth in the Fraser Valley.

Bridge across the river at the start of Trail #1003

Bridge across the river at the start of Trail #1003

Just a few hundred feet out of the parking lot, we crossed the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie and at the T,  took trail 1003 to the east (left). The Pratt Lake Connector trail (to the right) will have to wait for another day. Did I mention it was still drizzling?  Despite this, the trail was in great shape, with very little standing water.  We meandered along the river, then a little ways up into the woods, coming out below a huge rock face at Stegosaurus Butte.    This trail provides a quiet walk through the woods, with great views of craggy mountain peaks and waterfalls across the river valley.

Looking straight up the rock face at Stegosaurus Butte.

I came back a week later and took this shot looking straight up the rock face at Stegosaurus Butte.

As we hiked along, two boys on mountain bikes cruised by, soon followed by their sister who looked to be about 10, and their parents.  We also met up with a couple of US Forest Service rangers and some other day hikers on their way out. Its good to have your actions validated by others – if we are a little nutty to be out on the trail on a drizzly Sunday afternoon, at least we aren’t the only ones!  While the views were not spectacular, all the play of the mist in the trees and surrounding peaks, the various flowers in bloom and the feel of a mossy forest floor made for a rewarding afternoon.

Now you see it.

Now you see it.

Now you don't!

Now you don’t!

As we hiked further, the path took us through the forest, though the river was never out of earshot.  All along the way, we passed through patches of salmon berries, which provided refreshing snacks.  We also crossed a number of streams, where the winter run-off was  making its way down to the river.  A few miles in, we crossed a large creek, with great boulders and trees / branches strewn around the forest floor.  It’s not hard to imagine the potential raging power of spring run off in full force.  Eventually the trail returned to the rivers edge.  By this time, we were thoroughly soaked – time for a new rain shell.  Looking upstream, the destination bridge across to the Dingford trailhead was still not in sight, but given the wet conditions, we decided to make our way back to the truck.

For me, its one of the most appealing aspects of living in Seattle –  just an hour from homeI can step into the forest, walk along a river, eat salmon berries fresh off the bush, or jump off a snowbank into an alpine lake.    It’s a continuing testament to efforts of the people who provide us all with an incredible system of trails that let us wander around in our small corner of the world.
Life is good.

Judging by the rocks and trees, this would be quite the creek during the height of run off.

Judging by the rocks and trees, this would be quite the creek during the height of run off.

Posted in 2014, Hiking | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Mirror Lake Hike

Sunday, June 8th 2014.
It was a beautiful afternoon, and I had not had a chance to get out on a trail yet this year, so I hopped in my trusty pickup and headed east on I-90 to scout out a short hike up to Mirror Lake.  Ken and I camped at Mirror Lake last summer as the final stop on our White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass PCT trip.  While the PCT trail to the pass covers 9 miles, I heard about a short trail (1-1.5 miles) up from Lost Lake Rd (FS 5480).

I left home around 1pm, and thankfully traffic out of the city was surprisingly quiet, so that I reached exit 62 east of Keechelus Lake in ~1 hr.  After exiting to the south, and a  mile of pavement, I turned northwest on FS 5480.  Unfortunately there was a car just ahead of me, and it was a dusty gravel road.  The road crosses the John Wayne Iron Horse trail – which has now inspired a new thought – crossing the state by mountain bike on this trail – but that will be an adventure for another day.  FS 5480 follows Keechelus Lake – steadily climbing, then turning west towards Lost Lake – which looks like a beautiful place to car camp.  The road continues climbing on the north shore of the lake, eventually ending in pull out, leaving an ~0.5 mile climb up a rough road to reach the trail head. There were a half dozen cars, and a large group who were all smiles as they had finished up their hike.

Mirror Lake Trailhead view.

Mirror Lake Trailhead view.

I made my way to the trail head, shot a photo of the road up, and headed off on the trail. While  to this point it had been dry and dusty, within a few hundred yards, I was walking on and around snow patches.  I find this time of year particularly beautiful – winter slipping away with the snow melt, spring flowers fed by rivulets, and a beautiful blue sky with the warm sun on my back indicating summer just around the corner.

Trilliums on the forest floor.

Trilliums on the forest floor.

The hike was as advertised – a short distance – absent the snow, it would probably take ~15 minutes to Cottonwood Lake. In my case, with a little exploring, and a touch of extra caution to avoid post-holing or sliding down snow banks it might have taken 30 minutes. As I made my way around, I could hear the happy sounds of a family group testing the limits of the edge of the snow/ice that covered 75% of the lake.

Exploring the snow banks at Cottonwood Lake

Exploring the snow banks at Cottonwood Lake

An old trail marker indicated that the hike up to Mirror Lake was just another 1/2 mile. While this should have only taken another 15 minutes, the route was uphill, and completely snowbound. On the way up, despite my naturally light footfalls🙂 I managed to break through and post-hole a few times. I took advantage of the slash marks in the trees, as well as the hiker tracks to make my way up to the intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail. As Ken will attest, it looks quite different when the snow has melted off!  With a little off trail exploration, and the time I took to enjoy the little things – the flowers, the melting snow, the rivulets, the birds and squirrels and my fellow hikers, it may have taken all of an hour to reach mirror lake.  Time well spent!

PCT Trail Marker at Mirror Lake

PCT Trail Marker at Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake - Snow Bound

Mirror Lake – Snow Bound

After a short break at the lake, I retraced my steps – I rediscovered the role of my heels in the softening snow and steep downhill banks. In short order (~20 minutes) I was back at the trail head, mission accomplished. Later in the summer, this would be a perfect approach for an easy weekend stay at Mirror Lake.

Melt underway at Cottonwood Lake

Melt underway at Cottonwood Lake

Posted in 2014, Hiking | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Day 8 – Mirror Lake to Snoqualmie Pass

Wednesday Aug. 28, 2013
9 miles, 860 ft ascent, 2010 ft descent

IMG_0297

Ken modeling a pack cover and gaters.

The last night on the trail was also the best nights sleep, despite the on and off rain.  With camp a little damp, but packed up, and breakfast (including the last of my oranges!) eaten, we started on our last 9 miles of trail along with Scott who was planning to spend a few more days out on the trail north of Snoqualmie.  With the intermittent showers, for the first time on the trip I decided to use my pack cover.

IMG_0301

Grouse along the trail.

Not long into the trip, we flushed some grouse and Ken showed great patience and the upside of carrying a good camera with the shot he captured. Though we had a few short climbs, the majority of the hike out was spent descending.  The last few days we had moved out of the back country and were experiencing more and more of civilization, which I greeted with mixed feelings.  Looking forward to home and family, but hard to give up the absence of responsibility.🙂 The return was most evident today, as what sounded like a distant river was in fact the traffic noise from I-90.

DSCN1589

View from the trail north of Mirror Lake.

We stopped for a break at the edge of a clear-cut, crossed a few forest service roads and skirted Ollalie Meadow.  We met a WTA volunteer crew working on brushing out and improving tread. This was the third volunteer group on the trip – high fives to all!  Once past the crew, we traversed a huge scree slope and re-entered the forest.  Not unexpectedly, we began to meet more and more day hikers who had started from Snoqualmie Pass.  Just past Lodge Lake we passed through a group of ~15 seniors who were on their way back from an ~5 mile round trip.  I was more than impressed at how spry they were, considering they had climbed the ski hill, hiked down to Lodge Lake and were now heading home.

IMG_0313

Crossing the scree.

We finally crested the ski hill and looked down on the resort below.  Another 20 minutes of trekking and we reached Scott’s car.  He gave us a lift to the truck which was parked at the north trailhead across I-90.

DSCN1600

The ski resort at Snoqualmie Pass.

We agreed to meet for some lunch at the Summitt Pancake house, and as we drove back over, who should we see but Oakland and Voodoo.  They had taken a ‘zero’ in Seattle (trail parlance for a day  with zero hiking) and were now heading to the trail-head to begin the push to Canada.  We wished them a safe journey, and made our way over for lunch – a big salad, a burger and in my case a beer.  On that note, we wished Scott an enjoyable few days in the mountains, picked up an iced coffee at the stand next door, and pulled onto I-90 for the trip home.

IMG_0318

Eight days, 100 miles, ~8lbs, and ready to move on to the next section! Another great trip in the Cascade mountains!

Posted in 2013, Backpacking, PCT | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Day 7 – Stampede Pass / Lizard Lake to Mirror Lake

Tuesday Aug. 27 2013
9 miles, 2060 ft ascent, 1550 descent

IMG_0261

Camp at Stampede Pass.

This morning we learned why camping along a logging road is a not a very good idea.  The first truck came down the hill with full air brakes at just around 4:30 am.  If that wouldn’t wake you up, the next 3 or 4 trucks would be sure to take care of things.  Still, I managed to doze on and off for a few hours, finally getting up as the trucks made their way back with full loads. Once again it was a bit of a struggle to get started on the day, since it had rained a fair amount overnight.  We packed up our damp gear (it felt a few pounds heavier), had the usual oatmeal, coffee and an orange and headed out.  Scott started with us, but decided to go a little slower.

IMG_0275

Lunch site at Twilight Lake.

Since we had only 18 miles to go, we decided to take two relatively easy 9 mile days, and spend the night at Mirror Lake. The morning started with a nice climb, then a steep descent.  We walked through some incredible forest where the trees seemed to reach a few hundred feet. As we continued to descend, we noticed signs from Seattle Public Utilities not to trespass off the trail, as this was part of the watershed for the city.  Down below we could see our lunchtime destination, Twilight Lake.  We hiked off trail across the marsh to a nice spot near the edge of the lake, and kicked back to enjoy a bit of mid-day sun.

DSCN1563

Beautiful Mirror Lake.

After some R&R we got back on the trail with just a mile or so to go, and a 600ft climb up to Mirror Lake.  While we could have pushed on to Snoqualmie Pass, the lake was beautiful, the sun was out and we agreed on the original plan of spending the afternoon and evening there.  Scott joined us again at the campsite.   Once set up, it took no convincing to get into the water and wash up.  Two or three days without a good swim was enough for me!  The water was perfect and we spend a good half hour swimming and washing up.

DSCN1559

From whence we came. Looking back across the valley we had crossed on the way to Mirror Lake.

With the early stop, we explored the area and chatting with some other campers, we learned that there was trail to a forest service road so that you only had to hike a couple of miles to reach the lake.  That explained the dozen or more kids hanging out on the shore across the water.  A definite consideration for a short day hike, or overnight at an alpine lake.  Walking back just a few hundred yards we also had a great vantage point looking out over the valley we had just hiked from.  This site ranked along with Snow and American Lakes as the best places we camped on this trip.

Unlike our last trip where there was only one meal left in the pantry on the last night, we had a choice and prepared  curried couscous with  berries and lanjaegers.  Typical of the Cascades, the weather shifted rapidly between sun, cloud, and downpour.  While we were finishing up, Wight, who demonstrated the ‘vortex’ a few days back, came hiking through.  We had a great conversation that included Indonesia, Chaucer and ghosts.  When the next squall hit, he cinched up his jacket and moved on, expressing the view if your tent isn’t set when it starts to rain, you might as well hike on.  With more than 100 days and 2394 miles under his belt, he has the experience to make that call!

After the rain subsided, we had some hot chocolate and watched the clouds form over the mountains to the northwest of the lake.  As the sky darkened, I once again climbed in bed, feeling somewhat clean, and I passed out for the last night on the trail.

IMG_0228

Ken’s classic tree shot.

DSCN1551

Shameless Selfie🙂 Clara loves the hat!

Posted in 2013, Backpacking, PCT | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Day 6 – NFS Road at 2370 to Stampede Pass – Road at Lizard Lake

Monday Aug. 26, 2013
14 miles,  2210 ft ascent, 3040 ft descent

Waking up to a breeze and some sunshine makes for a dry tent and a good morning!  Probably even more significant – the NeoAir is a big winner!  I didn’t feel the rocky road through the night.  One last test – is it durable?  I’ll report back on that in a couple of years.  With breakfast on board, we hit the trail around 8:30.  Having camped around mile 2370, the map indicated water 2-3 miles ahead, though the description was a little vague “good water a few hundred yards off the trail at a switch back”.  This is a pretty typical waypoint description, and after some time you learn to trust that there will be an indication on the trail or a subtle clue (like the roar of a creek).  Rarely have we missed an important mark from the map.

DSCN1511

Hiking through the forest in the morning light.

So we headed north east through the forest on a rolling descent.  While flying high above the Cascades, you might have the impression that there there is a homogenous cover of green blanketing the mountain slopes.  However, when you walk the trail, you realize that the nature of the forest is constantly changing.  In mature forests like the area we were hiking through, the trees stand straight and tall, reaching for light, and there is very little undergrowth.  This can change quickly to dense thickets that are impassable except for the trail, or as you climb higher you might notice that every tree has a bend in its trunk, or that the trees are stunted and sparse. Or you might be so lucky as to walk through an old growth grove like we did near the Suiattle River last year.  I especially enjoy the forest when the light is filtering through the trees.

As  expected, at the turning point of the last switchback heading north we picked up on the sound of running water, and the red ribbon arrow pointing to a creek.  With fresh water in our bottles, we continued down to Tacoma Pass, then headed to the north west, climbing up to Sheets Pass.  Along the way, first I was nailed in the leg by a wasp, then Ken was also stung.  Fortunately I don’t have a strong response, so within a few minutes I no longer felt the sting, while Ken suffered a little more for a day or two.

IMG_0257

Coming closer to civilization.

After escaping the angry wasps, we stopped for a lunch of chicken noodle soup, then pushed on reaching the first of three sets of powerlines.  We crossed these lines and eventually reached the forest service road at Stampede Pass.  There was a person camped here, so our inclination was to walk down to Lizard Lake to see if we could find a site.  After a quick search we realized that was a no go, so we pitched our tents alongside Scott Smith, who was out for a few days of Cascade air.  After some conversation we learned that he builds and repairs violins, violas and cellos for a living.  Like me, he feels the call of the mountains (and has to convince his girlfriend that he’s ok out on the trail).

Though there was a rain squall moving in, I walked back down to Lizard Lake and managed a bit of a bath – though the lake bottom was pretty awful.  I was glad that I packed a pair of crocs on my pack, as they made for excellent around the camp and in the lake footwear!  With the rain moving in, we quickly whipped up and ate some alfredo noodles with chicken, and climbed into our tents to avoid the weather.

IMG_0231

Pumping water a few hundred feet off trail from a switchback.

Posted in 2013, Backpacking, PCT | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 5 – Camp Urich to NFS Rd. at 2370

Sunday Aug. 25, 2013
14.5 miles, 2100 ft ascent, 2440 ft descent

DSCN1456

Camp Urich in the morning.

I woke to a quiet and beautiful morning at Camp Urich, and when I had finished my morning ritual inside my tent, I leaned out and took pictures of the meadow.  With just a little more effort I finished packing up and put together some breakfast.  Over the next hour, the other campers rolled out of their beds and made preparations to head out.

As we were getting ready to continue up the trail, we witnessed the ‘hiker vortex’ phenomenon. This describes the situation where through hikers get comfortable at a hiker haven like Camp Urich, and have a hard time leaving to continue on there trek. In this case, Wight actually demonstrate a physical vortex, since he donned his pack, walked back to the trail, started up and then looped back to the camp and decided to stay for the day. Spitfire had done the same thing the day before – and by the time we left it was looking like he might have trouble leaving as well. If we see him up the trail, I guess he will have broken free.

IMG_0178

Heading out from Camp Urich.

While we were saying our goodbye’s, the horses took a shine to Ken’s backpack – probably looking for some trail mix.  Heading north from Camp Urich, we were heading into a 30-40 mile stretch of trail that passed through clear cuts and skirted areas where forest fires had stripped the trees bare.  While many of these areas were well into recovery or had been replanted, there were long open stretches as well.  We started with a  northerly climb out of the woods and met several more through hikers who with us enjoyed the feast of blueberries and huckleberries.  As an aside, I am still unclear as to the difference, so I decided – the powdery blue berries are ‘blue berries’ and the shinier purple berries are huckleberries.

DSCN1283

Blueberries

DSCN1485

Huckleberries

In either case, I came out the winner this year. The crop was abundant and delicious! Mixed with oatmeal for breakfast, picked in stride for a snack on the run, and by the handful at rest stops and in the evening, and a superfood at that.   I probably didn’t have to pack all those oranges!

IMG_0185

Fire damage from ~25 years ago.

Before long we hade hiked across clear cuts and through stands of dead trees stripped bare by fire, but oddly silver in the light. Continuing up, we reached Windy Gap.  After a short break we continued on, crossing the ridge.  From this point, the trail took an east north east bearing, following the ridge lines above the Green River watershed.  At around mile 2360 we stopped at a small spring and filled our water bottles.  From the start of the trip we had marked this spot which was labeled “North Bound Water Alert – No Water 12 miles…”.  When it’s on the map, it strikes irrational fear in your heart.   So I used my extra bottle and filled up with 3.5 litres (7.7 lbs), enough to add back all the weight of the oranges I had already finished! C’est la vie.  The spot was perfect for a break – a small creek trickling down the hillside, berries to pick, and a bit of sunshine.

IMG_0183

Mt. Rainier from the east.

After a short but relatively steep climb,  looking over our shoulders we were treated to spectacular Rainier views that had been obscured by the clouds the past few days.  When Rainier comes out, it only makes sense to stop and enjoy.  We continued on to the junction with the Bear Creek trail where we took a short break.  Not surprisingly, before long a couple of through hikers (Orbit and Blast) paused to chat.  We learned that just an hour after we left Camp Urich some serious trail magic occurred.  Magic Mike (?) showed up in his truck, and set up shop in the parking lot where he broke out the Krispy Kremes, bags of Snickers bars and ice cold Frappuccinos.  Apparently this stopped Spitfire in his tracks – he dropped into a lawn chair and experienced bliss. Good thing we had already left – as the temptations might have overcome the reticence of not being a through hiker.  Having shared this happy tale, they moved on.  Just as we were getting ready to continue on, who should show up but Spitfire himself – he had managed to escape and was hoping to still put in 30 or 40 miles before stopping for the night. This illustrated the difference between us and through hikers – we were happy to stop after 13 miles.

We continued on, descending towards the road where we planned to camp.  The site was at the end of a forest service road, and being gravel finally provided the true test for my NeoAir.  With camp set up, and a meal of mashed potatoes and lanjaegers in my tummy, it was time to crawl in bed.  Another night without a lake or creek to bathe in, and only the water we carried since we were not out of the ‘water alert’ meant I was getting a little ‘gamey’.  In that respect, hopefully things would be better tomorrow.

DSCN1508

Endless Cascade Ridges looking north from our campsite. It almost looks like a diorama.

DSCN1471

The endless Cascades!

Posted in 2013, Backpacking, PCT | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Day 4 – Big Crow Basin to Camp Urich

Saturday Aug. 24, 2013 – Through Hiker Day
13 miles,  1080 ft ascent, 2650 ft descent

DSCN1440

Getting breakfast ready at Big Crow Basin.

This morning it was pretty hard to get up and out of the tent.  Although the clouds had thinned, we were still shrouded in mist, and I knew that the everything would be damp again.  Even so, once I started the routine, it wasn’t long before I had things packed up and was making my oatmeal and a cup of coffee.  Over breakfast we chatted with a woman camped next to us who was part of a PCT foundation focused on keeping the trail maintained.  She was on a scouting trip to identify projects for their 2014 season.  We learned a little about the ‘politics’ of the trail, and how organizations including the Washington Trails Association, chapters of the Backcountry Horsemen, the Pacific Crest Trail Association and other groups were all looking for trail opportunities and building a volunteer base.  While on one hand it sounded like they could use a little more coordination, it was definitely heartening to learn how many people gave so willingly of both their time and money.

Big Crow Basin is at PCT mile 2343, about 40 miles into our section hike.  Our goal for the day was to make it past the halfway point, and stay the night at Camp Urich about 13 miles down the trail (2356).  The first 7 miles would be a rolling amble, slowly dropping below 6000ft, then a further rolling drop to just below 5000ft.  We started out of camp around 8:30 am, once again mostly socked in by clouds.  Fortunately it didn’t rain, and the clouds would periodically thin or lift to remind us of why it’s so great to be out in the middle of nowhere.

IMG_0135

On the trail.

DSCN1442

From the trail north of Big Crow Basin

DSCN1451

A small spring – but enough for a few pans and bottles of water!

We had an overall descending day and made good time. Around mile 2350 we took a lunch break alongside a small spring just off the trail.  We were wondering about the sign that read “Airplane Meadows” and almost as if planned, two C-130’s flew overhead.  That was just a coincidence  since we learned later in the evening at Camp Urich that a plane had crashed in the meadow in 1955.  We also heard an old rumor that the ‘crash’ might have been less of an accident and more of an insurance ploy…  The pilot survived without injury and was found by rangers a few days later.

As we prepared lunch, a number of hikers stopped in for water.  We met Oakland and Voodoo who went about getting their trail lunch together – Oakland had some dried mashed potato flakes with spring water and Voodoo had a mix of dried goods.  They quickly took me up on the offer of adding our extra soup – a combination of minestrone and Trader Joes Miso soup.  They had given up their stove somewhere back in Oregon and were living on a minimalist diet. Oakland seemed to be in his 50’s  and explained that hiking trails and mountain solitude were the only things that allowed him to tolerate the ‘civilized’ world.  Voodoo was in her 20’s, unemployed and ‘homeless’, and starting to think about what to do when she would walk off the trail in a few weeks.  We parted ways, wishing them the best for the next few weeks.

IMG_0163

The ‘engineered’ trail.

From Airplane Meadows we continued north east, descending towards Government Meadows and  Camp Urich.  As we came closer, it became clear that this section of the trail was the most ‘engineered’ of any we’ve hiked on.  Every few hundred feet there were strategically place diversion logs embedded in the trail to ensure water ran off the trail.  This continued all the way to camp.

IMG_0168

Hikers haven at Camp Urich

Camp Urich is on the north end of Government Meadows, and has a beautiful log cabin.  Built in the 1980’s, the cabin is available on a first come, first served basis.  We met a family who were spending a week or two in the cabin – they had been coming for years – Delmer had come each summer for the past 57 years.  For many years his family had a mining claim in the area, and he felt at home.  In addition to the family, several through hikers were enjoying the camp.

IMG_0171

The traditional midhike pasta and marinara feast!

We set up camp in the trees near the cabin and joined the circle of guests around the fire.  Several more hikers stopped in, chatted, filtered some water and headed back on the trail to put in a few more miles.  We spent the evening  listening to stories from the trail, and learning about our fellow campers (Spitfire, Ice Axe, Wight, Stagecoach and others).  Since we were mid-hike, we prepared our traditional pasta / marinara / sausage dinner and toasted Fabian who had originated this feast. After a great evening, we cleaned up, climbed into bed and drifted off to sleep. It was hard to believe that half the journey was in the books!

DSCN1465

The creek and meadow at Camp Urich

Posted in 2013, PCT, Travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment