Thursday, August 3, 2017
I got me some huckle-tongue!
After a long night’s sleep I was up, comfortably at 5:10am. It was just starting to get the tiniest-bit light outside, and I felt sort of wild, like I could see in the dark. I didn’t even turn on my headlamp. I just crawled out from under my quilt (I’m using Adam’s down quilt on this trip because it’s lighter and packs down smaller – and I’m loving it over my mummy sleeping bag!), stuffed it away into its waterproof stuff sack, let the air out of my Neoair mattress, changed my clothes, rolled up my mattress, and started to set everything outside my tent in the dirt. At this point I had a pretty good routine down, and it felt so natural – so good.
I was packed up and hiking out of the Eagle’s Roost campsite at 6am. Today was resupply day, and I really wasn’t sure how long that was going to take. A couple of hours? I really didn’t know.
On my two-mile hike to Mowich Lake where my bucket was waiting for me, I started to notice a few ripe huckleberries. I thought these guys wouldn’t be ready until late August. It was one of my trade-offs going a little earlier in the hiking season. Earlier and you get wildflowers and bugs. Later in the season you get berries and potentially cooler temps. I’m definitely not getting cooler temps (it is SO hot and dry – and I love it, mostly!), but I’m getting the wildflowers for sure, and now berries? They must be early because of the heat! Nice! I was able to pick a couple of handfuls – just enough to successfully acquire purple fingertips and a purple “huckle-tongue.”
I arrived at Mowich Lake at about 7am and was out of there a whole lot faster than I thought I’d be – I was back on the trail at 8:15am!
When I stepped up toward Mowich Lake there was a small campground – I smelled bacon. There’s a parking lot here and some car camping, so somebody was cooking some sort of delicious breakfast. I head right over to the ranger patrol cabin and found the bear-proof bin that holds resupply buckets. There she was! My bright green bucket covered in colorful duct tape and full of way too much food!
I laid everything out on the picnic table that was right there, opened a package of prochuitto and started eating it while I worked. I added quite a lot of snacks to the hiker box, and neatly stuffed the rest into my backpack. I donated my precious green bucket to the NPS, treated some water, finished my bakers chocolate with some almond butter, saddled up my now heavier pack, and started my way back toward the trail. I walked along Mowich Lake, which was really pretty and quite inviting for a swim, but it was still pretty early and I wasn’t super-hot and sweaty. Yet.
Next up was the S. Mowich River crossing. This is another glacial river that comes down from the Mowich glacier way up on the mountain. So it’s large, silty, strong and can be quite angry. The nature of these glacial streams is interesting. In the afternoon they get higher and stronger as the sun beats down on the glacier all day, slowly melting it. Then overnight as it cools off, there is less melt-off, so the river lowers.
So if there happens to be a bridge out, which was the case with the S. Mowich, it’s best to try crossing in the morning, as it’s going to be a little shallower, not as angry, and safer. Along the trail, talking to hikers who had already been through it, it sounded pretty scary. It’s kind of like the snow crossings. Everyone has a different comfort level with this stuff, so the ones that are the most freaked out by it are going to be the ones that want to warn you how dangerous it is, where the best place to cross is, how to get there, how the log is totally underwater and slippery and the current is sooo strong and it’s way too deep to wade and… and… and…
Now, I certainly don’t disregard any information anyone tries to share when it comes to this stuff. These rivers are dangerous. People die in them every year. All it takes is a quick slip, and if you get swept down river with a pack on your back, you’re going to be in a pretty bad situation really quick. (Which reminds me – if you are ever crossing a river that looks really swift, it’s always a good idea to unclip your hip belt and sternum strap in case you do fall in – that way you can easily ditch your pack so it doesn’t try to push you underwater. You’ll have a much better chance getting out if you’re able to quickly shed your pack.)
Anyway, I arrived to the crossing at about 10:30am, and I could see the old log bridge across the water. The current was flowing over the far end of it pretty good, but there was another smaller downed tree that someone laid down next to it that looked pretty sturdy, so I unbuckled my pack and started across. I’ve always had pretty good balance in these situations somehow, and I think wearing my super-minimal sandals really helped, too, because I could really feel the log’s surface and kind of set my feet in just the right spots. Before I knew it I was over the heaviest part of the river. There was one smaller section I had to cross yet, but I could tell it was pretty shallow, not very wide and not too strong. I took my time planting my trekking poles and my feet and just waded across. Then I looked back, kind of impressed with myself for not getting too freaked out, and started up a climb that would continue going up the rest of the way to my campsite. And it was getting HOT.
Crossing the *easy* part of the S. Mowich River:
Thankfully a lot of my climb was in forest, so it was shady. And I was actually feeling pretty awesome, steadily just crawling up, up and up. I got to Golden Lakes, where my camp was, at 2:30pm! It was so early, especially for being a 12-ish-mile day – I was so in the groove and feeling so good! I was also excited about my early arrival because I was able to grab one of the best sites there, in my opinion. I got site #4 which sat on kind of a ledge and had a really nice view of a mountain lake way down below. Wildfire smoke from up in Canada was still affecting the views, but it also made for great red sunsets, so I knew I had that to fall asleep to later.
At Golden Lakes camp there’s a ranger patrol cabin (which was unoccupied and locked up when I was there), but just behind it is a small, clear lake with a tiny little stone island in the middle of it. I set up my tent, packed my little camp towel, spare sport bra and dinner stuff into my empty backpack, and head to the lake. Swimming time, baby! God I love this hike!
At the lake I treated water before myself and the other campers had the same swimming thoughts and jumped in, stirring the water all up. Then I enjoyed my avocado dinner, and just as I was finishing up, others started to come down. At first it was just me, a lady I met (Mary) and her two younger daughters (I think the youngest was 13 years old and her sister looked to be maybe 17 or 18), and another girl around my age who was hiking her first solo trip. All of us girls chatted, got down to our hiker swimsuits and jumped in! It was so fantastic. Just cold enough to be refreshing, but not so cold that you wanted to jump right out again. So we hung out in the water for a long time. Then three more joined us! Two middle-aged guys and another lady – it turns out they thru-hiked the Wonderland Trail 20 years ago! And they all used to be park rangers out here! It was such a fun crew of people, and we really had a nice time swimming, chatting and relaxing. It is so nice getting to camp with time for this stuff! I could get used to this! I plan to do something similar tomorrow – I love this hike so much!
My new favorite backpacking meal, demonstrated in cheesy video-style:
After drying off in the sun and packing up all my sun-dried clothes, I head back to my quaint little camp and walked a little ways down the trail to a different view, sat quietly by myself and made a decaf coffee while enjoying some of my bakers chocolate with raw pecan butter. It was the perfect way to wrap up my day. After my little dessert I packed up my smellies and hung them all on the bear pole, crawled into my tent and watched the sky slowly glow to a deep, blood-red color through the tent mesh. I still have no need for a rainfly! It’s plenty warm at night so I don’t need it to hold the heat in, and there’s been a zero-percent chance for rain. Perfect.
This has been one of my favorite camps so far. Oh. And owls sound so fricking awesome in the mountains when their “who-cooks-for-you” echoes through the huge valley down below.
Talk about a great way to doze off into sleep!
Tonight I love avocados.
Oh, and this video is in fast forward – I don’t talk OR swim that fast! Haha!