Tuesday, August 14, 2007

In Which We Cover 11.5 Miles: Tuesday

We were greeted by a chilly morning, but the sky promised a clear day, our food bag which we'd hung from the provided bear wire was intact, the bugs were less aggressive, and some of us said we had never slept that good before. I still had faith in my inflated-ziploc-in-stuff-sack pillow solution, and that cost me. Nonetheless, we were all in a pretty good mood. Michael and Christopher went off to fish again, while the rest of us tried to dry out our damp sleeping bags and fry up some canadian bacon for breakfast (which btw, you could smell from half a mile away, thank goodness the bears didn't!).

The sun lit up the tips of the trees, and gradually poured its golden rays into our little meadow.

The Olympic marmots (I think that's what they were) were whistling all over, and the occasional Junco or Chickadee would twitter around the camp (there actually weren't too many birds up there).

Our goal was to be on the trail by 9:00, and after recoiling rope clotheslines, redistributing the food from the bear bag, dismantling tents, rolling up sleeping bags, filtering water and slipping into soggy hiking boots we were ready to say goodbye to Three Lakes.

The sun wasn't hot enough to completely burn off the fog yet, but it created some beautiful effects as we reentered the woods.

The trail took us further up the ridge, but the fact that we were well-rested helped a lot. Eventually we reached an area where the trees were rather sparse, the water accumulated in little alpine ponds, and we first glimpsed an actual mountain. Daniel thinks it was Christy Peak. The clouds still enveloped the surrounding hills, but the mountain was clearly visible.

One thing that I really apreciated about the whole hike was the quality of the trails. The park service obviously takes great pains to maintain them for hikers.

Finally we stopped climbing. We were on a narrow, forrested ridge--6 feet to either side it dropped off at a steep angle for several hundred feet. By this time, we were getting tired and looked forward to the descent to Elip Creek.

Christopher and Stephen took the lead and charged like elephants down that hill. With heavy packs on none of us were as balanced as normal, which made it hard to just run around the switchbacks. My suspension was suffering when we reached the bottom--the descent must have been over a thousand feet. Daniel (Bittner) said that going down was just as hard as going up, just quicker.

The Elip Creek campsite was really nice, but we were determined to press on to Wolf Bar that afternoon. Lunch tasted really good, the icy mountain water was refreshing, and the sensation of packlessness was liberating.

Fording the creek was tricky--especially with bare feet--but all our gear made it across dry and after talking with a park ranger for a few minutes and pausing for a group photo we were off.

I didn't find the lowland hiking as enjoyable as the higher elevations, what with all the salmon berries and brush, but finally we made it to our campsite on Wolf Bar, right next to the Quinalt River. We camped under the trees around a fire pit that someone had made (complete with benches).

The menu for dinner was Mountain House freeze-dried meals, hot dogs, marshmellows, candy, powerbars, MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat) and other stuff.

Once it got dark I experimented with some long exposures. (yes that's Daniel with the lightstick, pretty cool huh?)

Christopher proposed a game of flashlight tag, where the objective was to either get into the circle of benches around the fire or retrieve a lightstick without being identified by the guard, after which he decided to lay out on the rocks and watch the stars. Daniel (Bittner) soon joined him, then me, then Stephen. I should have been warm, but my sleeping bag was positioned to trap the freezing winds flowing down the valley, so I gave up and settled down in the tent. Now that was the best I've ever slept.


Anonymous said...

Wow. What more can one say? I meant eh nature shots are breath taking! The people shots, well... you'll always remember this trip. ;) Thanks so much for posting these!

Jacqueline said...

In some of those pictures ya'll look like a bunch of lost hikers wandering around in the wilderness.
Great post and pictures.

Anonymous said...

Great pictures !It looks as though ya'll had quite a bit of fun !
See you tomorrow !!!!!! :):):)

Stephenb said...

Great post! I am sorry to say though that your camara left me looking like a deranged, dirty hiker in the middle of nowhere with no particular destination in mind.

Benjamin said...

"Not all who wander are lost"--thank goodness too! I guess we do look kind of despairing in some of those photos...especially Stephen and Daniel :)

Daniel Berkompas said...

I should order you to remove some of those pictures of me. :)

You always seemed to get a pictures of me at the worst possible moments...