Wednesday, July 6, 2011

2010 Pasayten, Part 5

Doofus bails.
Morning at Sky Pilot Pass.

It seems completely irrational now, but after three nights, some rain showers, and waking up to fog, I somehow decided to bag most of the hike I had planned and turn back.

Someone got up early.

I was in a really delicious little spot I'd camped at twice before, below the trail, with good hammocking trees, a tipped over tree good for hanging food, and a little creek splashing downhill.

Looking south along "hard-to-follow" (Trail 754).

But somehow I got spooked. One of those things. So I turned around and spent a half hour or so on day four trudging back up to the top of Sky Pilot Pass, and then turned left, to the south, and started heading back. This was a different trail, though.

Looking back at dreariness.

There was no sign there but it was obviously the right trail because it was the only one, and well worn. And right exactly where it should have been. The weather did not look good even though it was a bright morning, because everything was in deep fog, and it was chilly.

After a couple of hours the day became un-dismal.

After a mile or so of walking along the ridge-top the fog lifted and I was on a long stretch of what in the Southeast they call a bald. Which was nice. Still foggy all around and below, but clear and sunny on top, with a good trail.

Ditto, with pointy things.

Then the trail disappeared. Just like that. Right out in the open. After maybe a half hour of backtracking, looking all over, checking the map several times, and trying several different directions, I decided on doing the only logical thing left.

This must be Jack Mountain, to the west.

Which was to descend along the western slope of the ridge. If there was a trail it had to be there, and my course would have to intercept it. This was from the high point of the ridge, called Center Mountain, so there was no other way to go but down, if I could find it.

Much, much later. Cascade Creek.

About a hundred feet down (30 m) I saw the trail coming over to me from the right, and after that it was a mostly easy hike down 2000 feet (610 m) through quiet woods, though the trail obviously had not been maintained in years. Every now and then I just guessed which way to go and always ended up back on the trail.

Ever wonder what the trees think about?

The trail wasn't washed out or covered in piles of logs, but was sprinkled with years of dropped branches and constricted every now and then by scratchy shrubs.

The forest provided warmth at first, and then after the day heated, it supplied shade. Though the whole trail (#754) was only seven miles (11 km) the last third was all overgrown, switchbacks descending steeply.

Finally, a sign, saying nothing I need to know.

Eventually there was a stream on the right or west side. This was Cascade Creek.

Shortly before getting to it there is an opening right above it, which provided a view down to the creek, but at "grade", where there probably was once a bridge, there wasn't.

An easy crossing, but for a half mile or so (0.8 km) below the ford the landscape is all toppled trees jumbled with rocks and the leftovers from a couple of slumps that may have been caused by flooding.

You have to just keep heading downstream, and eventually the trail reappears.

And then there's this.

Finally I saw a sign, which didn't help too much because it's hard to tell what trails it refers to, but the trail flattens right out and widens into what was obviously once a road. And it's always downstream, so no matter what, you follow the water.

Along here I saw a small wagon with a pair of boots in the back and the remains of a few tools. I couldn't figure out who would leave boots uncovered out in the open, but then I don't get paid to think, so hey.

Which turns out to be (guess).

And then there was a dumpy little cabin, marking a mining claim. It may be left over from a much earlier claim because it obviously was not built recently. Sort of strange, because no one was around, though I went over for a peek and a couple of photos.

Which is not all that romantic, or inspiring.

The cabin was dark inside and the second floor is not really there any more. Going around to the back I saw that the building is all open on top on that side, so maybe it's more of a shed than a place to stay. Vaguely quaint though.

But has a good bridge to help tired hikers along.

Eventually there is a nice bridge to the other side of the stream, which at this point has become Canyon Creek and is headed in the direction of State Highway 20. Another half hour or so later there is a more traditional wood-and-rock hiker-type bridge.

Later comes a more typical hiker's bridge.

It was getting late enough that I stopped there, washed up, ate, and ended up hanging my hammock near the ramp to this bridge.

This bridge is old style but newly built. The remains of the old bridge are right beside it, and there is a small flat spot just big enough to camp, but it was noisy and humid there, and I was skittish about sleeping so close to the trail.

Which I camped near and left the next morning.

You never know what might be walking by overnight, and I had to hang my food fairly close by, and low, too, but aside from the sound of the stream rushing by the night was quiet.

From that crossing the trail climbs steeply and runs along the side of the canyon high above the stream, continuing to follow it toward Ross Lake.



Alan R said...

I have enjoyed reading your post. It reminds me of what hiking is about and why we do it.
Some really good atmospheric photo’s too.

I think i would take a GPS though if i was in country like this where there are numerous trials that disappear.

Dave Sailer said...


The country is actually pretty open. Hard to get seriously lost. In this case all I really had to do was head downhill and then follow a stream back to the highway.

But given circumstances and my highly refined level of stupidity, I got into trouble the next day.

Big time.

My specialty, but it will be a challenge to explain in a way that makes sense to read about.