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Day 130 – August 11, 2022

Mile 2545.4 (Miners Creek) to 2567.8

22.4 trail miles | 21.8 tracked miles | 4,087 ft elevation gain | 77 F / 25 °C

I woke up overnight to the sound of thunder. The storm sounded like it was moving fast and zeroing in on my campsite, yet for the longest time, I couldn’t hear any rain. Eventually, the unmistakable sound of raindrops joined the concert of thunder, but the noise soon abated: the storm quickly moved away and then died down. By the time alarm went off, my tent was already dry.

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a fast moving storm. Loss of sleep aside, it was a pretty good deal, as the heat died down.

The day started with a 3,500-foot climb to Suiattle Pass, through the heart of the Glacier Peak Wilderness.

Despite the constant blowdowns, the ascent didn’t feel particularly challenging, especially with a lighter pack. The last couple of days of a section are always a pleasure in this regard.

Welcome to the jungle gym! There is a trail, somewhere underneath this pile
Near Image Lake Junction

Suiattle Pass, which sits at the boundary between Snohomish and Chelan Counties, featured awe-inspiring views over the North Cascades mountain range. Outdated signs and notices from the Forest Service offered a stark reminder that the area is prone to wildfires, though so far, luck has been on my side.

From Suiattle Pass, it’s all downhill to Stehekin, WA. The trail quickly lost elevation, and I returned to the jungle. Hiking through miles of overgrowth, I could hardly see my feet and kept stumbling against rocks and roots.

Scenery between Sitting Bull Mountain and Saddle Bow Mountain

Section K is punishing, but superb. I have ambivalent feelings towards this wildly rugged stretch: the eroded path, incessant blowdowns, and dramatic overgrowth are downright painful, but the scenery is second to none, and the sheer remoteness is elating. The further away I am from civilization, the more alive I feel.

I took a long lunch break in the valley by an idyllic mountain stream to soak in the views and process my emotions.

Scenery near Sitting Bull Mountain

In the afternoon, I hiked through yet another burn zone. The lovely campsites that dotted the trail were sadly threatened by widow makers (charred trees on the verge of falling down.)

Burn zone in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

I crossed the wide South Fork Agnes River on a log, which brought back memories of my section hike last year. Walking on a thin, bouncy log over a body of water with a heavy backpack is always dizzying and a somewhat of a mental challenge. Yet, I find that I don’t really hesitate when there are no alternatives. With four months of experience under my belt, crossing today wasn’t nearly as dramatic or as challenging as I remembered.

Crossing the South Fork Agnes River

The next few miles along the South Fork Agnes River were bliss. The trail was in a significantly better shape, and I was able to pick up speed. I enjoyed the views over the valley under an almost-cloudless sky.

South Fork Agnes River valley

I passed Cedar Camp, a large established campsite where I slept last year (and got nicely drenched.) I opted for a slightly more secluded spot this time around, near Pass Creek at mile marker 2567.8, where I enjoyed shade and a refreshing dip. Pass Creek is the last campsite with water south of North Cascades National Park, where camping restrictions are in effect.

Section K has been tough, but I am comfortably ahead of schedule. I had planned on reaching the tiny town of Stehekin tomorrow evening around dinner time, with just enough time to resupply. Instead, tomorrow will be a nero: I will spend the day in town and rest.

I am looking forward to a shower, but more importantly to doing laundry. While I have been able to wash in streams every night, my clothes are filthy, borderline revolting!

Distance to Canada: 85 miles

The Big Picture

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3D path
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