Solo into the Glacier Peak Wilderness, July 2015

Fotos & Reflections from my 65-mile Solo Backpacking Trip into

the Glacier Peak Wilderness,

Washington State/Cascadia, Monday – Friday 27 – 31 July 2015.

*Click on each foto to blow it up big. Enjoy!*

Views of Image Lake and of Glacier Peak and surrounding mountains from deep in the Wilderness on the morning of the Third Day, Wednesday 29 July 2015.

Views of Image Lake and of Dakobed (Glacier Peak) and surrounding mountains from deep in the Wilderness on the morning of the Third Day, Wednesday 29 July 2015.

“Off the Grid & gone. Solo. Well or unwell. Glacier Peak Wilderness will swallow me up. Reemergence in about a week. Been planning for a year. Going into the Deep High Lonesome. Adios.”

Those words were my Facebook post for Monday morning on the 27th of July before I left Seattle for the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Before my adventure was over, it had turned into a middle-aged man’s Hero’s Journey, a strange Quest of sorts, and on the last day there was a time I realized I might not make it out alive. I did, of course, despite developing what turned out to be rhabdomyolysis, as I share these words and pictures with all of you. My travels into the Deep High Lonesome proved transformative in slowly unfolding ways, ways I am aware of as I write these words well over a year afterwards.

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Chiwawa River.  Looking upstream from a roadside campsite in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest towards the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area. Day 1 on Monday the 27th of July 2015.

Another roadside campsite beckons, but I stop only to stretch my legs, relieve myself, and smell the fresh forest air of mountains & rivers.

Looking across the Chiwawa River into the Glacier Peak Wilderness from the same campground. The river’s running low, and the temperature’s rising. I’m the only person here at the moment. 

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Dusty ass road walk. I parked my car at the Buck Creek Trailhead at Trinity (792.50 meters or 2,600 feet) and walked all the way back and then up the long Phelps Creek Road towards the Phelps Creek Trailhead (1,066.80 m/3,500 ft) to Spider Meadows. I started walking from Trinity about 15:00 or 3:00 pm PDT in the afternoon of Day 1, Monday 27 July 2015.

Was reminded of the words of Doug Scott, the British mountaineer from Nottingham, England, who once pointed out when one goes into the mountains one must be prepared to die. Not wanting to die, of course, but mentally understanding and accepting the risk. Didn’t plan any alpine mountaineering, tho, as my intention is to trek and scramble cross-country in a physically demanding and remote part of this journey.

The section I planned to traverse off-trail from Buck Creek Pass up into the alpine zone towards and then down into the Upper Napeequa Valley was expected to be the most daunting. Scrambling thru High Pass on the way was one of the highlights I looked forward to experiencing. The Napeequa was notorious for being remote, difficult, fly-infested, and spectacular.

As I contemplate the possibility of dying amidst such magnificent beauty, however, I know I’ll be fine. Just what’s going thru my mind. In case this proved relevant for any search and rescue, which I hoped there wouldn’t be any need for. So, here I am, very much alive and ready for more. 

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Selfie shot standing in the hot, dusty ass Phelps Creek Road. Gusts of wind swirls dust devils and flying sheets of grit. Even so, it is a beautiful day in the backcountry. I’m grateful to be here in the Great Outdoors.

Getting closer as the mountains call my name. Seven Fingered Jack Mountain looms in the distance as an alpine fortress. The second tallest Entiat Cirque peak stands 2,774 meters or 9,100 feet high above sea level. Imagine the impact of rising sea levels on measuring elevation and making current maps grossly obsolete.

Finally made the hot, dusty roadwalk to Phelps Creek TH from Trinity. Looking across at Buck Mountain & the Chiwawa Ridge thru a break in the trees along the Phelps Creek Trail. Afternoon of Day 1.

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The Phelps Creek Trail into the Glacier Peak Wilderness to Spider Meadows begins as a remnant of an old mining track where miners and hunters would walk or drive up into the mineral resource-rich wilderness. Easiest part of the hike, too! 🙂 

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Lookin’ back down the Valley outa “Cougar Alley.”

Had originally planned to leave on Sunday the 26th of July, but fell behind in my plans and preparations. Felt frustrated at first as I’d wanted to get up on there into the mountains and put in a few miles. At some point I stood up, took a deep breath as I spread my arms wide to the sky, and surrendered to life. Stayed up till 2:30 in the morning wrapping up business, packing and repacking to go as lightweight as I could, and completing projects. 

Overslept, too, darn it, as I was so groggy I accidentally set my alarm clock for p.m. instead of a.m. Once again I opened my arms wide to the sky, took a deep breath, and surrendered to the practice of acceptance. Waited out the worst of rush hour traffic, then headed off into the mountains in my 15-year-old blue beater car. 

Gorgeous day! Blue skies! Hot and sunny, too. A long, intermittent line of bicyclists pedaled up and down Highway 2. As I drove down from Stevens Pass heading east I passed more cyclists. Suddenly traffic was being halted and detoured around an accident. Police and ambulance lights were spinning red and blue. Groups of cyclists were standing around weeping and comforting each other.

One of their fellow cyclists was dead in the road and covered by a white sheet. I felt the field of death and grief as if driving thru a large pool of cold water. I mustered a brief prayer as a thousand questions peeled off from my mind. What happened? Was it a man? Or a woman? Heart attack? Stroke? Going too fast and lost control in those tight curves? Because, aye, the mountainside was godawful steep.

Found out later the deceased cyclist was a 67-years-old White man from Montana by way of Ohio and then Texas. He was a U.S. Air Force veteran, a former Methodist pastor held in high regards, and a passionate, long-distance cyclist. Died from multiple blunt force trauma. His body was found in the road with his helmet still on by passing motorists. The cause was yet to be determined, and I didn’t uncover anything further except his name and immediate family. Tho usually I’d share his name, this time I felt best to keep it private for the Beast here is Death.

The man’s death was a wakeup call, a brutal reminder death is everywhere and anyone’s life may end at any moment without reason or expectation. The image of a dead man under a white sheet on the black asphalt on the edge of a steep mountain road would rear up on my last day in the wilderness. No, didn’t feel like a haunting. Felt like a wild knocking on the door of life instead, knocks clear and quiet with watch-out-be-careful-nows rather than threats of reckoning. 

Parked at the Buck Creek Trailhead up at Trinity on the edge of the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Many other vehicles were parked there, too. Threw on my backpack and did the 2.5 mile long roadwalk from the Buck Creek TH, which sits at about 792.50 meters or 2,600 feet in elevation, to the Phelps Creek TH (at 1,066.80 m or 3,500 ft). I trudged uphill thru clouds of swirling dust. Saw several dust devils whip up mini-sandstorms. Did I leave Trinity at 14:59 (2:59 pm) Monday afternoon? Or was it 15:59? Damn. See, I have severe ADHD and am easily distracted. I am hyperfocused on taking exacting notes, so much so I forgot to write down those things that I otherwise remembered as an hour off this way or that way but I did recall those digital minutes. What is there to do but chuckle and laugh? I arrived grinning and dusty at the Phelps Creek Trailhead at 17:10, took a break, and started hiking again at 17:30 or 5:30pm.

The Phelps Creek Trail is the official name of the one I was on, but most hikers refer to it as the Spider Meadow Trail. I passed thru Cougar Woods, the spooky-jokesy name my kids and I gave to the forest we hiked thru together back when they were little.

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Passed into the official Wilderness Area and deeper into the mountain forests. Forded low-water Leroy Creek. Trail grew steeper tho still easy. A large church group from Wenatchee barreled past me in a hurry to make camp. I step aside to let them stagger ahead. I plodded on swift and steady with one eye out for mountain lions and black bears…and Sasquatch.

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My backpack was a lightweight, stripped-down Osprey Exos 58, Size Small, 52 Liters. Total weight on Day 1 was 30 lbs not counting camera gear & trekking poles BUT including large yellow bear can with 8 days of food and all Ten Essentials including 2 liters of water. I overestimated food-mileage ratios as I did about 65 miles in less than 4 & a half days. Even so this is too much weight. I still tinker with trimming this and that as I seek to reduce my total pack weight not counting food & water, camera gear, & poles to less than 20 lbs, maybe 15 lbs. I don’t include any footwear, socks, & gaiters being worn as part of pack weight. Perhaps I should?

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Entering Spider Meadows @ 20:38 (8:38pm PDT) of Day 1.

I finally pulled into the Lower Meadows to behold one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, Spider Meadows. The temperature had dropped and I felt cold. Marmots whistled at me from atop boulders scattered across the high alpine valley of Phelps Creek. After a break atop a rock on the banks of the stream, I hoisted up my backpack and turned back toward the main trail.

A man out walking his dog trotted on by before circling back to his tent. He and his sons were up from Oregon and backpacking with his brother. Oregon Man shared he was worried about his brother. “There’re some really difficult stretches ahead for some one as out of shape as he is.”

“Looks like everyone else is pretty experienced,” I replied. “He’ll be OK. Just might take longer to do, is all. Supposed to get hot, up into the 90s, altho it feels so cold right now.”

Hmn. Deep down I was a little worried about being out of shape myself, but I knew I was in better shape than most guys in their mid-50s. Still, first time I’ve backpacked solo into the wilderness since, gosh, before children. Done dayhikes into the backcountry by myself. Completed a few easy climbs and scrambles alone. Paddled whitewater up to Class 4 even easy Class 5 solo a few times, altho near roads. But haven’t done anything quite like this in … decades. So, yeah, I felt a little nervous, and most of the time, however, I was confident in my skills and my ability to persevere.

The man with the dog and I said farewell to one another as he peeled off to return to camp on the other side of Phelps Creek. I kept going.

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The Trail up into the Upper Basins beckons as evening settles towards the end of Day 1, Monday 27 July 2015.

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Storm descending into Upper Spider Meadows.

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Slopes full of Giant Spiders!!! … just kidding 🙂

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Sturm und Drang. Dunkelheit der Nacht Ansätze.

More dark, stormy clouds pushed in over the mountain peaks. The temperature continued to drop. I pushed up into the far ends of the Upper Meadows below the junction of the main trail with the Phelps Basin turn-off and made camp in a clearing near running water. It was 21:30 or 9:30pm, and I had backpacked for 9.6, almost 10 miles. The temperature on my Casio wristwatch read 16.4 Celsius.

Night fell quickly, but I couldn’t sleep. Kept sensing Sasquatch people in the shadows. Felt so vulnerable sleeping in a bivy sack under a tarp. I wasn’t too worried. Being nearly deaf includes meaning I can’t hear any sounds that would normally awaken hearing people. Was a birth trauma baby that resulted in bilateral moderate-to-profound hearing loss with a slew of learning disabilities, among other things. I don’t sleep with my hearing aids on. Tried a few times out of curiosity. Too much noise. As one highly sensitive to changes in my environment, I was a light sleeper blessed with the curse of an overactive imagination.

So I was wide awake until at least 5:00 in the morning before I finally dozed off. Woke up about 7:15 or so. This pattern of insomnia and sleep deprivation was to prove deleterious towards the end of my mini-expedition.

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First Camp, Upper Spider Meadows. Cold morning with scattered patches of frost and thin ice. Day 2 @ 7:25 Tuesday morning on the 28th of July 2015. It’s the only time I set up the tarp on this trip. Otherwise I just used my bivy sack.

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Flowering Stalk of False Hellebore, Veratrum viride.

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Cascading falls of the West Fork of Phelps Creek fed by the melting Spider Glacier.

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Looking for Sasquatch. They watch.

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Breakfast in the chill of dawn. Soto Windmaster canister stove (2.3 oz) & mixed titanium cookware from Snow Peak & MSR frakkin’ rocks! Coffee & Oatmeal do, too. Especially when you’re cold & hungry. Now I use the same system but take only one lid, the MSR one. Stoves are even lighter, too.

Found myself fretting as I thought I was waking up too late. One of my goals was to push myself hard and see how many miles I could hike in rugged backcountry in a full day for a week or more. I was already looking ahead to thruhiking the Pacific Crest Trail all the way from Mexico to Canada in one push in my early 60s. This would be good training. Yet I failed to sleep well. Initially I’d assumed I’d wake up around 5 or 6 and be hiking by 7 in the morning or 8 at the latest. Instead I left my camp at 9:35. I would backpack thru three and a half mountain passes this Second Day to finally stop at 20:30 (8:30pm) and camp. Tuesday proved to be an incredibly gorgeous day.

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Uh…um, OK. Day 2’s started out freezing cold but’s gonna be HOT & STEEP!

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Looking back towards Spider Meadows.

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Only halfway up to The Ledges! Sun’s starting to bake & burn already.

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Peeking down into the Upper Meadows.

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Zooming down into the Heart of Spider Meadows on my way up to the Ledges, Day 2, Tuesday 28 2015. The Oregon fellas and I kept leapfrogging each other thruout the day.

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Up…up & up & … UP! More Dust & Sun, Woo Hoo!

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Finally at the Ledges, also known as Larch Knob, but not much is left of Spider Glacier. One can see where a much fuller glacier carved, scooped, and ground down this little canyon.

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Young dayhikers exploring Spider Glacier. Watch out for … ROCKS!

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Looking thru the Notch in the Spider Gap Ledges where the West Fork of Phelps Creek drains the snowmelt from shrinking Spider Glacier. Across the valley soars the 9,000-plus feet of the Entiat Mountains. I just love being up high! The Ledges, also known as Larch Knob, are about 1,889.76 – 1951 m or 6,200-6,400 ft depending on which ledge or knob you choose to perch upon.

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Two kids play upon the much shrunken Spider Glacier without any concern for hidden crevasses. The glacier, however, is more of a snowfield. No one ropes up here. It’s the 2nd or 3rd year of a worsening drought. Gigantic walls of stone scoured out of the mountains by prehistoric ice loom above the children. Nature is powerful.

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Glorious Spider Meadows from atop the Ledges before Spider Gap. The Entiats rim the horizon sky in the distance and Phelps Creek streams down thru the middle of avalanche country. Ah, the Glacier Peak Wilderness! David Brower and the Sierra Club saved the GPW from a massive capitalist effort to tear open the land for large copper mines. The area is indeed mineral rich. Browder, unfortunately, was unable to help make it part of the North Cascades National Park or as its own national park. In some ways it remains better protected as a Designated Wilderness Area in the U.S. National Forest system. Tuesday 28 July 2015.

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Lower Spider Meadows and Phelps Creek, looking north to south, Glacier Peak Wilderness Area, Tuesday 28 July 2015. Day 2 continues.

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Tired already. I feel the snow cold and mushy underfoot. Sol blazes down from the center of our solar system. It feels hot hot hot oh so hot. Global Climate Disruption and wild oscillations between droughts and floods weigh on my mind. I climb forth anyway, and choose to delight in feeling so alive and blessed in being here in this gorgeous, wild remnant of North American wilderness.

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Goodbye, Notch! Farewell to the Ledges! And to the steep climb up to it, too! Great campsites rest upon the rocks and krummholz out of sight picture left.

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I’m bashful when it comes to selfies.

Here I am anyway, and sunburned already. Too hot for hats.

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Cairns of Spider Gap mark the route off-glacier and down into the Lyman Lakes Basin below and out of view. The Bible Kids from the Wenatchee Church group who blasted past me yesterday caught up with me here again today, tho they weren’t going any further. Spider Gap sits at about 2,164 m or 7,100 ft.

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Spider Gap. To the north beckon the ramparts and spires of North Star Mountain and the Bonanza & Dark Peak complex with summits well over 8,000 and 9,000 feet. Further still and northwest out of view awaits the massive bulk of the Sinister-Dome-Sentinel peak complex topped with summits in the 8-9K+ range. These mountains are all part of the North Cascades Complex. Day 2 continues. Tuesday 28 July 2015.

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Peering down into the Upper Lyman Lakes Basin from Spider Gap. A northern ridge of Chiwawa Mountain rises above where glaciers once carved.

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North Star Mountain dominates the horizon here at 2,468 meters or 8,096 feet. Further east towers Bonanza Peak at 2,899 m or 9,511 ft. Bonanza’s the tallest of the non-volcanic mountains in Washington State in elevation.

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At Spider Gap looking back down Spider Glacier from whence I came. As I explored the area, I found myself reminiscing and missing my ex-wives. Gwen was the one who first explored Spider Meadows with me way back in the late 1990s. We took our daughters Morgan and later Kate up in here. Years later Kristina would join me for more adventures in Spider Meadows, sometimes with our little Talia. The last time I had been all the way up Spider Glacier to the Pass was with Kristina way back in the Summer of 2006. There was more snow and glacial ice then. Kristina & I broke up in 2012 and divorced in 2013. I just had to practice yet again letting her go back into the memories of the past as I pushed forward solo, solo into the Deep High Lonesome.

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Met this quiet, young man with a Bowie knife on his belt from the Wenatchee, WA church group. He’s leaving Cascadia soon on a scholarship to a Bible college in the Upper Midwest. He intends to serve the world by being an Evangelical Christian in service to the poor. While I’m a deeply spiritual person, I do have strong, often negative opinions about all religions and the damage they do to our species and planet. Even so I wished him well. Still do. We need more human beings of all kinds humble enough to be in service to others and not merely to one’s self alone. He appeared so kind and yet so resolute. Bible Guy’s face lit up with a quiet joy as he gazed with me out across the High Country. As he turned around to catch up with his fellow Christians I realized I was gonna miss him in a strange way. Oh, the stories we could tell and the debates over religion we could’ve investigated.

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Looking partway down from Spider Gap at the snowfields along the edges of Lyman Glacier and at Upper Lyman Lake. Day 2 continues! Tuesday 28 July 2015.

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Gazing north where glaciers once reigned. The Middle Lyman Lakes with a glimpse over a low ridge of the Lower Lyman Lakes, which are together called simply Lyman Lake. It’s THE Lyman Lake. Tuesday 28 July 2015.

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Wildlife!

Remnant of old mining trail used for dead-end scrambles around the flanks of Dumbbell Mountain. While this path appears as the obvious route “somewhere” to the bottom, it is not. Instead take the snowfield down from the Gap.

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The Lyman Glaciers of Chiwawa Mountain, the summit of which stands at 2,578 meters or 8,459 feet in elevation. Day 2, Tuesday 28 2015.

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Another view of Lyman Glacier, Chiwawa Mountain, Glacier Peak Wilderness Area, Cascadia. Day 2, Tuesday 28 July 2015.

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Hard on the knees, all those rocks of talus and scree. Aye, but what a view!

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Looking back up towards Spider Gap, out of sight and around the corner.

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The snout of Lyman Glacier calves off into Upper Lyman Lake.

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The Upper Lakes of Lyman trail away where deep ice once filled the valley rim to rim.

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Global Climate Disruption accelerates during this drought. But, hey, what would it be like to crawl, run, leap, and dance across the rim of massed icebergs before more rock, ice, and snow calves off?

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Icebergs! Bigger than me!

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Alpine mini-oasis where a seep forms the beginnings of a stream.

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More flowers! In the midst of a drought! Seeps form from water from melting snow and ice percolates down thru layers of soil, sand, and rock to emerge further down into small, spring-like bogs and pools. Often enough the water will trickle downhill from these boggy pools and merge into streams and creeks. Otherwise the alpine landscape is akin to a desert.

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Enchanted by the mix of views and the variety of terrain. Life always seems to find a way, doesn’t it?

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Witnessing this scene left me feeling both mesmerized and disturbed.

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The rocks of Glacier Peak Wilderness are rich in minerals including the elements copper, zinc, sulfur, silver, gold, iron, and magnesium. The region was even until recently the site of epic environmental battles between miners and conservationists. John McPhee captured one such epic struggle in his 1971 classic book, Encounters with the Archdruid, about mountaineer and environmentalist David Brower’s ultimately successful battle against the wily capitalist, engineer, and miner Charles Park. When Park demonstrated the economic value of such enormous mineral wealth, Browder declared, “I believe in wilderness for itself alone.”

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Eros in Stone.

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The Trail beckons along the outflow from the Upper Lyman Lakes. Rolling hills await as both trail & stream drop off into the lower basins below. Day 2 turns out to be an incredibly gorgeous day!

The Trail beckons along the outflow from the Upper Lyman Lakes. Rolling hills await as both trail & stream drop off into the lower basins below. Day 2 turns out to be an incredibly gorgeous day!

The waters of Middle Lyman from the trail along the bluffs.

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Looking down at the Lower Lyman Lakes, usually referred to as simply Lyman Lake. The main lake sits at 1,706.3 meters or 5,598 feet per the map, but that was back when there may’ve been higher levels before the current 3-year drought. Cloudy Pass looms above left of center at 1,962.3 meters or 6,438 feet. Wildfires burn out of sight towards the east (picture right) and northeast.

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Cloudy Peak swoops above Lyman Lake. The summit stands at 2,412 meters or 7,915 feet but even larger North Star Mountain peeks out just over the horizon.

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Rising from the earth like a gigantic Godzilla-like monster, Dumbell Mountain dominates the skies above Lyman Lakes. One can scramble up to bivy atop the summit, tho. I haven’t yet done so. Dumbell stands 2,567 m or 8,421 ft tall.

The Oregon Guys return to their backpacks after scouting the rolling highlands above the Lyman Lake basins.

The Oregon Guys return to their backpacks after scouting the rolling highlands above the Lyman Lake basins, Day 2. We leapfrogged each other a few times that day, but I ended up pushing on much further this day.

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Nature makes Art for the Eye of the Beholder as an aspect of Nature itself.

Nature makes Art for the Eye of the Beholder as an aspect of Nature itself.

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Looking down towards Railroad Creek Canyon where the Hart & Lyman Lake Trail leads towards the remote village of Holden. The area is closed due to a mix of wildfires and, ironically, wilderness recovery efforts to reclaim damaged land and water from old mining activities.

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Lyman Lake below at about 1,706.3 m or 5,598 ft with the double peaks of 2,364.94 meters tall or 7,759 foot high Sitting Bull Mountain poking up over & beyond 1962.3 meters/6,438 foot Cloudy Pass.

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The Oregon Guys below one of the lower ridges of sprawling 8,421 foot high Dumbbell Mountain.

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Three years of drought leaves the alpine meadows bereft of tarns as wildfires burn nearby. Yes, it is the dry season, normal for this time of year in the Maritime Pacific Northwest. Local weather constantly changes. Forest fires are normal and serve healthy ecosystems. And…Global Climate Disruption takes a toll as the Anthropocene here on Earth plus a warming solar system merge to generate extreme oscillations and unpredictable effects in weather conditions with repercussions in the geopolitical and enviro-econo spheres.

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Temperature’s up in the upper 80s already. Forecast to be in the 90s. Fahrenheit, of course, as the measurement of air relative to human sensitivity between bliss and death.

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Pausing on my way down to Lyman Lake to admire so much intense beauty. The trail thru here is rough as hell, overgrown, and potted with deep holes where a misstep could easily break open the bones in one's legs.

Pausing on my way down to Lyman Lake to admire so much intense beauty. The trail thru here is rough as hell, overgrown, and potted with deep holes where a misstep could easily break open the bones in one’s legs.

Water is Life. And so it is here at the base of the falls below Middle Lyman and before Lower Lyman Lake.

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At times the trail feels like a one-track goat path as it edges jumbly cliffs beneath the mid-day Sun.

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An alpine delta of sorts as water from the Upper & Middle Lyman Lakes gather below the falls, out of sight to foto-left, to flow lazily into Lower Lyman.

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Ahh, Summertime in the great Northwest! Yeah! Late July in the Glacier Peak Wilderness of the North Cascades of Washington State! Woo Hoo, Day 2! And lake water levels are low. The glacial till masks heavy mineral concentrations in the water.

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Log Bridge across Railroad Creek where the waters of Lyman Lakes & surrounding alpine and subalpine streams flow out and down towards Lake Chelan. The log is firm, wide, and solid, yes, but tilted with edges of soft, crumbly wood. Sure wouldn’t wanna skitter across with any slick ice upon it.

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Looking upstream from the Log Bridge. I surprised a young Canadian couple pumping water in the shade of the trees below the bridge. They were so friendly and scruffy cute and were enchanted by the beauty here. All the way down from Calgary, Alberta, too. On a long road trip down the West Coast USA and this Spider Meadows to Lyman Lakes to Buck Creek loop hike was high on their list to experience. Indeed they chose it as this particular loop with additional variations is rated as one of the best 1-week backpacking adventures here in the States. They felt so excited to do this amazing and highly rated backpacking trip beneath an innocuous but dangerous volcano.

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As I stood here gazing upon how far I’ve come so far and where as the water flowed out of the lake to become Railroad Creek, up popped the young Canadian man & woman from out of the bushes. They smiled and seemed lost in rapture yet as present as wild animals. We shared a short but wonderful conversation. I feel sad I didn’t take their picture. I love dynamic landscape Fotografie, & I’m kinda shy taking pictures of people standing around smiling for strangers.

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In awe of such wild scenery, I felt tempted to camp here at Lower Lyman. Still only about halfway to Image Lake, however, with two more passes to go. So I chose to push on. Promised myself, tho, next time I’m in the area I’m camping here along the shores of Lyman Lake, bugs & all. Hell yeah!

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Looking back towards Spider Gap Pass. To the right of the Gap looms the twin massifs of Red Mountain (2,331 m / 7,646 ft) & Chiwawa Mountain (2,578 m / 8,459 ft). The much shrunken snowfield below the Gap and what's left of the Lyman Glacier are sort of in the center of the foto. The ridge between the Upper & Lower Lyman Lakes constitutes a low pass of sorts. I called it "half-a-pass," as in I backpacked across three and a half passes today.

The view back towards Spider Gap Pass. To the right of the Gap looms the twin massifs of Red Mountain (2,331 m / 7,646 ft) & Chiwawa Mountain (2,578 m / 8,459 ft). The much shrunken snowfield below the Gap and what’s left of the Lyman Glacier are sort of in the center of the foto. The ridge between the Upper & Lower Lyman Lakes constitutes a low pass of sorts. I called it “half-a-pass,” as in I backpacked across three and a half passes today.

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Looking back down from Cloudy Pass, 1,962.3 m/6,438 ft. Lyman Lake is the jewel just right of center at 1,706.27 m/5,598 ft with Spider Gap in the crotch above at 2,164 m/7,100 ft. Day 2. Gosh, I’m tired yet still full of energy. I could camp here, I would’ve love to camp down at the lakeshore, and I’m excited to push myself forward, to push myself hard. I want to. I want to keep on going. There’s still a long ways to go. Must get all the way by foot to Image Lake. Woo Hoo, Day 2!!!

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The hot, dry heat of summer dreams on the edge of fire.

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Peering down Agnes Gorge at a forest fire in the Backcountry on the Pacific Crest Trail…the Blankenship Fire in the South Fork Agnes Creek drainage. Lightning strikes during a thunderstorm started the fire back on 14 July 2015. The PCT passes thru here and was closed. The nearby Wolverine Fire a few drainages over would soon erupt across a huge portion of the Glacier Peak Wilderness and burn into the edges of Holden Village. Day 2, Tuesday 28 July 2015.

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The PCT’s below and the fire seems small now while it burns in the steep, rugged, mountain forest terrain of Agnes Gorge.

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Looking back towards Cloudy Pass, already out of sight, as I push forward to Suiattle Pass. I’m on the rough & rugged single track of the Shortcut Direct Trail connecting the two mountain passes.

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Bopping along the Shortcut Direct towards Suiattle Pass (5,983 ft). I was so tired I felt as if I was playing chess with my feet and the rocks. Kept going because I still felt full of the beans, y’all!

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A brief intersection with the world famous PCT…but it’s closed due to the Blankenship Fire up in Agnes Gorge.

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I must admit I felt a twinge of fear. Imagine high winds pushing walls of roaring flames over the mountains and down the ridges faster than I could run. What would I do? Boil & bake & burst apart? Suffocate from thick smoke as the flames suck oxygen from the air? Crawl into a crevice and pray till I scream myself dead? I shuddered, shook my head, pushed such thoughts aside, and kept on hiking.

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Far beyond Suiattle Pass now and breaking out of the woods into the meadows atop Miner’s Ridge. Shadows fall.

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Luna Moon above Plummer Mountain (2,399 m / 7,879 ft). I put one foot in front of the other as I tromp onwards to Image Lake.

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Staring in awe across the valleys to the Dakobed Range twisting out from the pyramid dome of Glacier Peak like some gigantic serpent made of rock and ice.

Dusk settles upon Glacier Peak while on the way to Image Lake. The local Native American Indian tribes had their own names for this prominent volcanic massif: Dakobed, which means Great Parent. Tea-ko-buh-ba. Takobia. Movements continue in their attempts to restore indigenous names to these peaks as well as debate which one best represents the primal spirit of the mountains.

Dusk settles upon Glacier Peak while on the way to Image Lake. The local Native American Indian tribes had their own names for this prominent volcanic massif: Dakobed, which means Great Parent. Sometimes spelled DaKobed or Da’Kobed. From Tea-ko-buh-ba. Takobia. Movements continue in their attempts to restore indigenous names to these peaks as well as debate which one best represents the primal spirit of the mountains.

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Dakobed…Glacier Peak Volcano. I’ve climbed up and stood on its summit twice with The Mountaineers Club back in the mid-to-late 1990s before the Great Floods of 2003. We’d backpack in from the west, hurtling down the White Chuck River Trail to Kennedy Hot Springs to Boulder Basin and then on up the Sitkum Glacier to the snowy, icy summit. The air up top reeked of sulfur and steam. A third attempt on another, steeper, icier route, the Scimitar Glacier, was aborted by ferocious weather. This old stratovolcano stands at 3,213 m / 10,541 ft. I miss the camaraderie of those ol’ Mountaineer trips.

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Traversing the upper meadows of Miners Ridge on my way to camp at Image Lake. The vastness of wide-open meadows and big sky felt expansive, cosmic even. And, yes, that’s my backpack plopped down on the edge of the trail as shadows fall into dusk. Day 2 isn’t over yet.

I arrived in camp at 20:30 or 8:30pm that evening after backpacking 14.10 miles including crossing 3 & a half passes today. So tired. Exhausted. Still I felt proud. Proud a middle-age man could push myself over such rugged terrain. The last section, the miles from Suiattle Pass to Image Lake, was the easiest of the day. I was grateful they were last and I got the hardest part, from Upper Spider Meadows to Lyman Lake, over with in the first half. I felt I could have backpacked more than 20 miles this day if I’d been on the groomed PCT instead. Who knows, of course, but I was measuring myself as a 56 years along man on my first solo expedition since before children.

Set up my bivy sack beneath the shelter of a grove of trees. Dispensed with the tarp. I cooked in the dark. Caught the bright eyes of a young deer spooky radiant in the glow of my Black Diamond headlamp. Relished a belly full of hot food and water from Image Lake. Fell asleep quickly but soon woke back up. Too tired to sleep. The Moon was so bright! Eventually I drifted back off into sleep.

I jerked awake with in a rush of fear. An animal had chomped down on of my feet. Quickly composed myself, sat up gripping knife and headlamp both, and there saw my foot nibbler. The same young deer gallivanting about at dusk was the culprit. I breathed a deep sigh of relief as what if this had been a cougar or an ornery Sasquatch? Or maybe a bear? I felt exposed as my sleeping face was there for all the critters of nature in Glacier Peak to sniff a peek at and eat.

My imagination went overboard with werewolves and bigfoot monsters and I just could not fall back asleep. The deer rustled around in the bushes and grass nearby. I started giggling, too, at the ridiculous silliness of it all. Woken up at 3 or 4 in the morning by a li’l ol’ deer chomping down on my feet and a nibblin’ at me toes! Could’ve been Bigfoot! Or a mountain lion! Or a rare Cascades grizzly bear! 

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Yes, that deer. That is THE deer! Li’l Foot Chomper! A young, juvenile Columbian black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus). This is at the backpacker campsites about a quarter of a mile below Image Lake. Foto snapped at dusk towards the end of Day 2.

Sleep deprivation was beginning to take its toll. I slept little Sunday night as I stayed up late completing tasks. Once in the backcountry, however, I’d expected to settle quickly into a more natural rhythm of falling asleep quickly from the exertion as darkness fell and wake up with the sunrise.

Didn’t happen. Wasn’t happening. I slept little both Monday and Tuesday night. Chose to ignore nagging concerns bubbling in the back of my mind as fear of the unknown. I knew both body and mind were strong. Endured far worse conditions in days and nights gone by. Eat healthy. Take my supplements. Drink liters and liters of water! And sometimes dreamed about sex.

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Sunrise alpenglow on Dakobed/Glacier Peak. Wednesday the 29th of July 2015 begins the 3rd Day.

The cold morning air and the man next door interrupted my contemplation. He was a White guy. Said he 62 years old and out backpacking for the first time in years. Used to be active as a mountaineer. Now out reclaiming his vitality, and he frowned down at his mass of gear organized neatly upon the ground. He carried way too much weight. Knew it, too. His efficiency and skills returned quickly as he ate breakfast, broke down camp, repacked his load monster backpack, and trotted on outa camp with a grimace of a grin and forced twinkles in his eyes. At the same time he moved with vigor and grace. He was glad to be back out in nature. He nodded off at the magnificent morning alpenglow upon the sprawling volcano and paused to point his trekking pole at the view.

“Glorious views from the shitter. It’s down the hill a bit,” he said. Then he was gone.

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Boiled water for coffee and breakfast, glad I refilled at the lake a quarter of a mile away from camp late last night. Drank, ate, and ruminated. Enjoyed the changing views of Dakobed the Glaciered Peak. Chatted with two women camping a couple of lots over as they awoke and puttered around camp. Their black dog crawled out of the tent, stretched like a yoga instructor, then loped off to water the flowers.

The two women appeared to be in their 30s, maybe early 40s. Hard to tell with so many layers on. It was July in the mountains, hot by day and cold at night. All 3 of us recognized a certain thruhiker look in each other and fell immediately into excited conversation. It’s the way one moves, stands, sits, and integrates with one’s environment. There’s a sense of adventure and ease with being dirty, muddy, hot, and bloody. Turns out they thruhiked the PCT last year. Did the whole thing in about four and a half months from Mexico to Canada.

“Sounds amazing!” I said. “But, no, I haven’t done the PCT yet. Once upon a long time ago, tho, I thruhiked the AT way back in 1991.”

“With one of my ex-wives,” I quickly added as I wanted to honor an incredible woman in my life while wanting these two women to feel safe. I was the only man around, see. A blush of embarrassment and shame warmed my face. Oh God, this felt awkward, so I chose to let it go rather than dwell upon it any further. They seemed to reciprocate.

“Oh, wow! I did the AT back in 2002,” said the woman with the dog as she shook out a stuff sack. “What was it like for you two?”

“It was an incredible experience for us. We had planned to do the PCT in 1993, too, but instead we had a baby. A daughter born early the next year. That’s a different kind of journey.”

“I bet it was!” 

“Still is.”

We all laughed.

“In fact she’s on the AT now, attempting her own thruhike. I’m concerned about her, tho, as she hurt herself really bad. She severely sprained her ankle hiking down out of the Great Smokies in a bad storm. Lost a lot of time trying to let it heal, only to sprain it again. She’s tough, but, man, she’s lost a lot of time, too.”

“I’m sure she’ll choose to do what’s right for her,” the other woman responded.

“She will,” I said and nodded. “Morgan usually does.”

As the West was gripped in a severe drought, I asked about water on the PCT. They showed off their large, 2L plastic soda bottles they had screwed into Sawyer mini-filters. I had a Sawyer mini-filter, too, but admired the water capacity of the 2 liters. They each carried two.

“Water is most precious when there isn’t any,” one woman said.

“Especially when water sources may be far apart during a drought,” the other added.

Turns out they were both nurses. Worked a year to save up for extended travel, then took off. They had more trips planned, too, but not any babies. My ex, Gwen, who thruhiked the AT with me is an RN, too, I said, altho not back in 1991. We did have outdoor adventure friends who worked as travel nurses.

Eventually we all said goodbye and we both packed up. They soon left with their dog. Oh, what a fun they were to talk with. I wondered if they were a couple. Didn’t matter. They were happy together and a quiet joy to meet. 

Early morning camp near Image Lake, Day 3.

I walked on down to the privy, which was a wooden box with a lidded hole. No walls. Just greenery for privacy. Vegetation had been pruned back to allow those thus comporting themselves upon the shitter to behold amazing views of ever shifting light upon the mountains. Glacier Peak stood sublime in early morning sunshine. Indeed, the privy served more as The Throne.

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Dakobed from The Throne.

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Image Lake in the shadows of dawn. Wednesday 29 July 2015, Day 3 of 5.

Premature weariness from sleep deprivation after such strenuous hiking and climbing combined with my propensity to socialize with neighboring campers cost me precious backpacking time. And that’s fine. I dragged my sorry, tired ass outa camp at 8:15 in the morning and pushed about a quarter of a mile uphill thru the chill to Image Lake.

This sorry grunt was my second visit of the morning to the lakeshore. My first was to get water. The lake is a large, shallow tarn set in a stunning setting. Used to be called Mirror Lake until the name was changed in 1940. The surrounding terrain’s still recovering from long ago overgrazing of livestock and mining traffic.

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Image Lake at mid-morning on Day 3. Still recovering from decades of overuse. The tarn sits at about 1,845.87 m or 6,056 ft.

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It’s so beautiful and peaceful here. I didn’t see any other humans around this lake on this Wednesday morning in late July of 2015.

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Blurry wildlife! A shaggy marmot checks me out before scurrying off into one of a cluster of burrows.

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Classic view of Glacier Peak from the shores of Image Lake atop Miners Ridge, Day 3.

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Oh, the romance of the open trail! I proceed to backpack all around the lake even tho doing so added more miles to my trek. One can see where once upon a long time ago this shallow but broad tarn was an even much bigger pond. As the glaciers receded, however, so did the shoreline as lake turned to bogs and then solid ground. Life grows and expands every where life can live.

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Quiet moments of meditation upon greenery, stones, and mud as I reflect upon the ups and downs of life living life.

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Circumambulation in progress around Image Lake. Eventually I’ll branch off for a sidehike up to the lookout tower before looping back along Miners Ridge to descend into Miners Creek Canyon.

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Lookout Tower atop Miners Ridge at 1,892.20 m or 6,208 ft. Day 3.

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I’m in awe almost every waking moment.

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Dakobed looms in the distance far beyond Image Lake below to dominate the Glacier Peak Wilderness. I live in the land of volcanos, earthquakes, Sasquatch, UFOs, and conflicts over numerous energy and environmental issues. Everything appears static as all will remain the same for all eternity, yet everything changes again and again as we move thru spacetime.

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Glacier Peak/Dakobed, 3,213 meters or 10,541 feet high, give or take changes in snow levels and volcanic activity. I feel a mix of amazement and nostalgia as I remember my two climbs to the tippity top top with the Seattle Mountaineers back in the mid-to-late 1990s.

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Looking due south at Ten Peaks (Tenpeak Mountain), 2,524 m/8,281 ft, in the Dakobed Range. Day 3 continues.

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On one of the local trails as I circumambulate Image Lake with Glacier Peak & the Dakobed Range on the far horizon.

Views of Image Lake and of Glacier Peak and surrounding mountains from deep in the Wilderness on the morning of the Third Day, Wednesday 29 July 2015.

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Looking south and peering down the steep slopes of Miners Ridge into the Upper Suiattle River. Miners Creek flows in from the east on foto left. Damage from droughts, floods, and epidemics from beetles and fungi, all worsened by accelerating global climate disruption, is obvious. Day 3.

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Fields of western pasqueflowers, also known as white pasqueflowers. Altho too short to be trees, these stiff stalks with clusters of herby leaves around the base reminds many folks of Dr. Seuss’s truffula trees from his book, The Lorax. Atop Miners Ridge near the Lookout Tower.

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More “truffula trees” on the way to the Lookout Tower! These pasqueflowers share two different scientific names for the same species as botanists differ on its genus: Anemone occidentalis and Pulsatilla occidentalis.

After circumambulating the lake, I tromped about a mile further to the Lookout Tower atop one of the prominences of Miners Ridge, itself branching westwards from Plummer Mountain. The lookout tower is one of the more remote ones in the State of Washington and is the third built upon the site. The first was constructed in 1926 and replaced in 1938.  The current one was built 13 years later in 1953. It’s still in use 62 years later as of this 2015 trip but is closed to the general public. I could tell someone was in it, but maybe more as a number of wet clothes were spread out along the railings drying in the sun and the breeze. U.S. Forest Service rangers, trail crew volunteers, both? I wasn’t sure.

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Lookout Tower atop one of the hilly summits along Miners Ridge at 1,892.2 meters or 6,208 feet.

After enjoying peering across vast expanses of sky, mountains, and valleys, I turned back across the meadows and after a quarter of a mile or so turned off into the forests. My plan was to hike the trails of Miners Ridge in a loop on my way back towards its junction with the PCT. Many prefer to do in-and-out hikes via the Miner’s Ridge Trail from campsites along Lyman Lake or up from the Suiattle River Trail. I chose to see as much as I could and explore several trails. Curiosity is a powerful drive. I sought the little-used Miners Cabin Trail thru steep forests. Shade from the now-hot-hot Sun, too. Each day grew hotter than the last.

Zigzagged down the mountainside at great speed. I felt as if I could almost run the switchbacks way down to the Upper Suiattle, but that would take me far away from where I wanted to end up today. I was already adding many more miles to my version of the Spider Meadows-Buck Creek Loop. The standard loop hike is about 44 miles long, but I added in various loops along Miners Ridge and later High Pass and the Napeequa Valley and then down to the Chiwawa River via Little Giant Pass. I ended up backpacking about 62-63 miles or 99.78-101.39 kilometers in about 4 and a half days.

Came upon two trail crews repairing the trails. They were working their way all the way down to the river bottom. A ranger or two were there, but most were trail maintenance and trail construction volunteers from the WTA, or Washington Trails Association. There was a wide range in ages, too, from older teens to elderly guys as fit as a fiddler’s fiddle. I thanked each group for their service, especially so far from home. They were all tired, appreciative, and were very focused.

One of the WTA crew leaders and his ranger buddy were chatty. They remarked how badly damaged most of the trails were. Some were overgrown to the point of being difficult to find. Decades of neglect since the Reagan Administration chopped budgets, something subsequent regimes continued to do regardless of party affiliation, had left quite a mess to address. Plus the acceleration of climate change upon natural weather systems, wildfires, storms, avalanches, landslides, and so forth left a very expensive mess.

They both praised President Obama for finally turning loose funds to rebuild, repair, and maintain trails. I recalled archenvironmentalist David Brower’s proposed formula for managing the North American wilderness across national parks and forests: 10% development and 90% wilderness. Unfortunately Brower’s proposals regarding such percentages failed to be adopted as official policy despite widespread support.

The United States Congress legislates funding earmarked for parks and wilderness, tho the funds do not always go to these entities as, 1) the money must first exist in place to move upon being designated, and, 2) the CIA and other elements of the National Security State including unacknowledged  special access programs and black ops can take what they want when they want to do so.

Therefore these agencies often turn to the public to beg for additional funding. Private organizations also raise funds, tho these NGOs must pay for staff, supplies, and actions in order to function. All of these groups both public, private, and mixed are at the mercy and influence of powerful corporations and big banks. In the shadows awaits hypercompartmentalized and little understood covert organizations.

The United States of America, despite being an amazing historic creation, is neveretheless notorious for having the most complex system of overlapping and competing political jurisdictions at all levels of any nation-state. This highly inefficient and costly system presents an illusion of democracy, undermines our republic, and keeps the churning of the working and middle classes at bay.

Such is the ultimate downward spiral of our Capitalist system we all live within. We must do better to survive and thrive as a species. We must find ways to remove and replace our broken, destructive economic-political local-national-global system, peacefully if possible and, alas, violently if not. Being in deep in the Wilderness to be at one with Nature does not eradicate my connections to civilization as if to flee from the stress of everyday responsibilities. No. Instead, outdoor adventure and travel only reinforce my stand for both spiritual transformation of individual and group human consciousness and commitment to revolutionary Democratic Socialist transformation of the economic-political-environmental-energy system of Earth.

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Afternoon sunshine thru shaggy, hanging clusters of what I first thought were colonies of “tree moss.” Turns out they’re not parasitic and do not harm the tree. They’re lichens, not mosses, and are more of a helpful symbiot than anything else.

After thanking the dirty, sweaty, scowling, smiling, frowning, laughing trail crew volunteers, I turned off the down-the-mountain trail and plunged into the overgrown mess of the Miners Cabin Trail. I pushed thru tangles of stiff shrubbery, brambles, weeds, and half-fallen unpruned trees. Rock piles from freeze-thaw cycles, clustered blowdowns from winter storms, landslide debris, and random miner’s junk scattered here and there made my progress quite the adventure. And I loved it. The scenery felt deep-woodsy and shady with occasional views peaking southwards toward Glacier Peak or into the valleys of Miners Creek or the Upper Suiattle.

When I walked into what felt like a bubble of stillness I stopped right there in the middle of the trail. I felt a strange, energetic sensation. Felt as if I could sense the surprise of a group of Sasquatch. But I felt them somehow. Was it my overactive imagination? Some kind of psychic extrasensory feeling out into the interconnect fields of energy shared by all living things in a communal biosphere? I do not know. The temperatures rose hotter as this spot in space turned higher into the gaze of the afternoon Sun.

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Lichens are themselves a symbiotic species as they’re a merger of fungi and algae. Fungi serve as the dominant partner within the symbiotic organism. Algae often are protists or protozoans but may also be cyanobacteria. Common names for the pale-green lichens found hanging from evergreen trees in these mountains are Old Man’s Beard, Granddaddy Beard, Grandfather’s Beard, and even Witch’s Hair. Not fair to old men and Wiccans (Neo-Pagan Witches), of course.

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Wild Life! An orb weaver spider bobs within a sunbeam slanting thru the trees along Miners Cabin Trail. These spiders were common especially in the partially overgrown sections. I had to go thru a lot of spiderwebs and whacked my way thru a few. Felt kinda sad until I missed one. Walked into an expanse of web I didn’t quite see in the play of shadows and shade. Momentarily freaked out as I clawed spiderwebs out of my hair and beard and off my shoulders and knocked off a large, crawling orb weaver with eight beady little eyes that was either terrified or frickin’ pissed off or both. A lovely Day 3 continues.

While most of the trail thru the woods here was rolling or flat, progress forward was slower than expected. There were many blowdowns, and as the blowdowns were small to medium sized trees they dragged down tangles of stiff, prickly ass branches. Filled with spiderwebs. One facehugger was enough. There were lots of facehuggers – large, bouncing orb weaver spiders in their webs smack dab in the middle of the brushy trail with many of them in the 5 to 6 feet above ground zone. The Face Hugging Zone!

I kept an eye out, too, for yellow jacket nests burrowed in the soft dirt along the crumbling edges of old trail. Black flies swarmed as well. I was surprised to see so many so far from rushing water. Lost a lot of time back on the Miners Cabin Trail. Not from the additional miles I added in earlier in the day but the slow start out of camp and especially now as I traversed the wooded slopes of Miners Ridge.

At last I stumbled out back onto the Miners Ridge Trail. It felt like trotting down a boulevard compared to the overgrown, brushy route I had emerged from. I took more time to jot down notes in my little journal and to explore the ruins of the camp. There were more far back in the woods, and while curious, chose to shoot a few pictures and then push on.

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Remains of buildings and garbage debris clustered around closed mines off the Miners Ridge Trail near where Miners Cabin Trail intersects with it.

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Collapsed Miner’s Cabin on Miners Ridge west of Plummer Mountain. Mining has occurred in this region off and on in various capitalist boom & bust cycles since the 19th Century. The 1872 General Mining Law worsened the situation from environmental and legal standpoints.

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Bitter conflicts between environmentalists and mining industrialists broke out across the 1960s as efforts were to put the Glacier Peak area into the North Cascades National Park before failure do so resulted in keeping it in the USNF as a Designated Wilderness Area in 1964.

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Despite such Federal protection, however, mining conflicts escalated thru the rest of the 1960s, however, along and over Miners Ridge. It wasn’t until 2010 the issue was legally resolved when the last private inholdings of Kennecott, the corporate giant battling to open an enormous open-pit mine back in the 1960s and wanted to do so again. Another outburst of squabbles surprised everyone as late as 2013 before subsiding.

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Regardless of how solid the victories of natural conservationists and environmentalists seem to be, the wilderness of North America as well as elsewhere remains under attack and the threat of attack. Vigilance is vital.

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Mining was bloody hard work. So was logging, which was clearing great swaths of land throughout Cascadia. Here’s a rusting fuel can, I think it’s a fuel can, found near the old mining camp ruins. It was a LONG, rough way in by foot and horse to reach these remote work camps.

After exploring the dilapidated ruins of the old mining camp, I strapped on my backpack with a fierce determination to push on to camp. Bombed downhill until I reached the PCT. Came upon two young men waddling all straggle-footed while stooped over beneath tree branches with hard Nalgene water bottles gripped in their hands. One carried a filter pump with a coil of tubing in his fist. They can’t find any water. Where’s the water? Oh my goodness, how in the world did they ever make it this far? It’s a drought, oh yes, a drought, and there’s still a bit of murk left in the shadows to slurp. I grinned and motioned further back down the trail. They would find a calm, little pool to pump water from. My moment of benign haughtiness would return to haunt my overconfident, middle-aged ass, tho.

Back to the Pacific Crest Trail! One way led north to Canada, and the other all the way south to Mexico! Followed the wide, graded-for-horsepacking PCT across Miners Creek Canyon and thru a grove of enormous virgin timber. I fell in love with the place, and in the dusky shadows felt a compelling urge to set up camp to lay down and sleep. Felt so tired. But the shadows also felt gloomy, and tho late afternoon already sunset was still a few hours away. I could do a few more miles! I shall! And I did.

Hot & Dry. Washed out. Stagnant. No water here.

Water! A small stream reveals itself partway up the parched mountainside.

My biggest fuss was trying to estimate on the map how far I might end up by water. My choices were to stop by a reliable stream but be further away from a campsite much deeper in but likely without any water. A drought was on, wildfires burned nearby, and I was feeling slightly dehydrated in the heat. Sunburned, too. I could carry water in, but water is heavy. The rest of trek was uphill all the way to High Pass sometime tomorrow, and yes, water is heavy.

Turned off the PCT onto the Buck Creek Pass Trail and whoa, straight up hill we go! The BCPT proved harder than anticipated. This part of the BCPT was steep, badly eroded, and proved strenuous as I was already so tired. Hadn’t slept much since Saturday night, remember, and today is Wednesday. Oh, well, never mind. I was sure I’ll do just fine.

Debated turning off toward a short trail that deadended on a modest summit with expansive views. A fellow hiker-climber told me earlier today there were a small number of beautiful campsites there, but it did add mileage and there wasn’t any water. I heaved a heavy sigh, noted it for a possible future trip of a different kind, and decided to push on uphill towards Buck Creek Pass. My new plan was to hike as far as Small Creek and camp beside the trail near water. It better have water!

Loped down into a large ravine and could smell water. Then heard it. Sounds of whitewater! Small Creek! Woo Hoo! Popped around the corner on a zigzag down towards the water and, boom, there was a whole gaggle of Boy Scouts U.S.A. They were sprawled on both sides of the BCPT and near the creek. Some were struggling to erect tents. Others were gathering water. Some still cooked while others were already cleaned up. Three scoutmasters were nearby. Everyone looked strong, grubby, and exhausted.

I was worn out, too, and apparently showed it. Shucked my pack in a little campsite of sorts too close to the trail and moved about as stiff as the creaking dead. Began chatting with the scoutmasters, sharing both long ago war stories and information about what lay ahead. They all laughed after I told them about being startled awake in the middle of the night by a deer biting my foot. One of the scoutmasters shared how his fishing pole was stolen one night while left outside his tent leaning against a log. After comparing notes and maps for a few minutes, they invited me to camp with them. I quickly accepted.

My reservations and prejudices against Boy Scouts in the woods faded quickly. They were from Eugene, Oregon, too, so perhaps being from such a progressive bastion gifted them with far more enlightenment than I’ve experienced elsewhere from such groups. Brought back enjoyable memories from my own boyhood when I was fully engaged in the Cub Scouts. Was everything from Bobcat to Webelo back in those crazy fun days.

Spread out my bivy sack with my sleeping bag inside, set up my little bitty kitchen, dug out my bear can, and hobbled on down to the creek. Oh, I had the tastiest dinner and drank so much water and pissed like a bull in the bushes. The loud chatter of the Boy Scouts quickly died down as people began to turn in. The trees were thick overhead. Darkness settled fast. I wondered if any black bears or a lonesome cougar would prowl thru our campsites in the darkness. Moon was bright and cast the spookiest shadows thru the forest. 

Sat up for a few minutes more. I’d backpacked an estimated 14.90 miles today. About 15 if one included all of my ramblings here and there. Wow. Fifteen miles! It turned out to be the longest day mileage-wise of my little solo expedition, altho in other ways it was one of the easiest trail-wise. Except for the overgrown section, of course, followed by the steep, ugly-wugly little stretch straight up out of Miners Creek Canyon.

Feeling dirty and proud, I laid in my sleeping bag/bivy sack upon my truncated Ridgerest closed-cell foam pad. Gazed up thru the treetops trying to see stars. As I don’t sleep with my hearing aids in, I wondered about curious predators stalking us in the dark. Soon I fell asleep. Slept hard, too.

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My camp spot off the Buck Creek Pass Trail at Small Creek. It’s now Day 4 on Thursday morning on the 30th of July 2015.

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Airing out my sleeping system damp from condensation & perspiration. Last night was a hot and sweaty one. Strong black coffee cools down in my Snowpeak titanium mug. The only truly heavy item in all my gear was my bear can with more than twice the amount of food I ended up needing as I finished faster than planned.

Awoke at 8 in the morning. From a gory nightmare, too. More about my bad dream later on as it haunted me all the way into the darkness of the Napeequa at midnight. Otherwise felt refreshed tho stiff as old sticks. Took it slow. I took my time making breakfast, fetching water, cooking & eating, chatting with the chatty scoutmasters, brushing & flossing my teeth, brushing my hair, digging a cat hole in the dirt uphill back in the bushes behind a log so I can squat & oh yeah, truly relieve myself. As I took a dump back in there while squatting like a gargoyle atop some demon, something animal dashed quickly on the edge of my peripheral vision. What was that? Oh, a frickin’ chipmunk or ground squirrel scooting along a downed log.

Hmmn, I felt vulnerable. Imagine, if you will, being in a similar situation engaged in such defecation, and BAM! a mountain lion pounces upon you with fangs and claws and you’ll rolled up sideways in bushes & duff screamin’ & cussin’ and fighting while trying to protect your genitals from pawing claws and at the same time you’re bleeding heavily, the animal feels hot and heavy, and, good lord, you’re shitting and pissing all over creation. All those Boy Scouts charge up hollerin’ & throwin’ rocks & sticks & stuff, the cougar lets go of you, crouches, snarls, and races off into the forest. Everybody looks down at you. Someone realizes what a lucky bastard he is and pulls out a smartfone with a camera…

Yes, those scenarios did erupt from my imagination.

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A Good Morning selfie by Yours Truly, a 56 years along man in the woods. I’m so tiyuhd! Truth is I’m a night owl, and try as I may as I know there’s no try, only do and not do. So, hey y’all, it takes me a long time to get my boney arse a movin’ in the morning’! Excited, tho, because I’m shooting for High Pass and the Upper Napeequa Valley today! Woo Hoo! 

I finally left camp late at 10:45. So much for waking up at 5 or 6 and hitting the trails before 7 in the morning! At least I felt rested and strong. And every single Boy Scout including the scoutmasters from Eugene hefted packs much larger and heavier than mine. They eyed my small pack with surprise and envy. 

“Oh, it took me a while to figure it all out, ” I said. “I’m the crazy guy who cuts my toothbrush in half, trim off labels, and removes toggles. I consider myself an ultralite backpacker except for the bear can. More important, tho, is I have all of my 10 Essentials represented. The hyperlite crowd does away with their 10 Essentials. Seen too much stuff go wrong, and not because the packs are too heavy.”

“Yes,” one of the scoutmasters agreed. “It’s a process. But I do miss my fishing pole.”

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The terrain opened up after we climbed out of heavily wooded Small Creek Ravine, Day 4.  These ridges flow east of the BCPT towards Helmet Butte.

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Contouring around the mountains as we ramble on towards Buck Creek Pass, Day 4, woo HOO! Liberty Cap is the prominent peak foremost just right of center & stands at over 2,060+ meters or in the range between 6760-6780 feet high above sea level.

The steep slog up out of the Small Creek valley topped out in meadows rimmed with evergreen trees. A trail not quite a mile in length rolled off thru the woods and up to the top of a small mountain known as Flower Dome known for its hilltop glades of lush alpine flowers. I rested in the shade. The Boy Scouts from Oregon plodded on up, too, and we all took a break together. After snacks, they elected to go explore the summit meadows of Flower Dome. Afterwards they would return to the BCPT and push on over the Pass and down the mountain to the trailhead.

“Wanna come with us?” one of the scoutmasters asked, and a few of the boys nodded, too.

“Well, I am tempted, but I still have a long ways to go. So I must say, ‘No.’ It’s gonna take me awhile to bushwhack down to the Napeequa from High Pass, and all that’s a big unknown for me. Thanks, tho!”

As the scout troop marched away, I stepped into a row of trees to pee. Instead I spied a pair of trekking poles one of the boys left leaning against the “backside” of a log. 

“Hey, wait!” I called out. “Here, one of y’all accidentally left your trekking poles behind.” 

A lad darted over, tired already, and mumbled a rapid-fire mix of gratitudes and apologies as he took the poles from me. 

“You’re welcome, and no worries. We all forget stuff sometimes when we’re tired. Have fun!” 

We all do this sometimes when we’re exhausted and distracted. Just human nature, yes?

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Paused to look down into some nameless valley where long ago trails used to go before vanishing into everchanging landscapes. The overgrown, blowdown infested remnants of the Triad Creek Trail is somewhere down in there. It leads to a dangerous crossing of the Upper Suiattle and on to classic and straightforward but rarely attempted climbing routes on “the back side” of Glacier Peak.

As I arrived toward an intersection of meadow trails, including the one I planned to take off downhill then up and around Liberty Cap towards High Pass, I met more ramblers. A man who looked borderline homeless in a Wild West kind of way moseyed on up towards me with his hands on his hip. He told this confusing tale about a man up a ways over there in a tent just to the east of Buck Creek Pass. This man in a tent had hurt his knee real bad and couldn’t walk but he was drunker’n hell but no wasn’t drinking because he was an Indian but no he was really a White fella but he can’t walk so all of the rest of us out here are supposed to go rescue him. So, yeah.

“What?” I asked again as I squinted off toward the campsite in the shadows far away with suspicion mounting in my mind. I did not trust this man at all. He and his story felt most untrustable. These words are paraphrased from memory as best as I can recall, as this guy was so addled I had a hard time understanding him. My recollection of this feels more like a crazy, heatstroke dream where afterwards during my muddled attempts to remember what happened my mind can’t, not really, not clearly, and instead desperately fills in the blanks with inchoate images and inarticulate words. Still…

“Man has a gun with him, too, just so ya know,” Mr. Wild West Man said and grinned all mighty pleased with himself as if he told me something so cool I would of course be delighted and then we would all be friends.

“It’s a shotgun, too,” Wild West Man said with a jolly shake of his buzzy ol’ head.

“Sorry to hear all that,” I said. “Glad your buddy’s still quite alive. Rest a spell and then it’s straight downhill all the way to the cars. Now excuse me, but as it’s truly not urgent I have to reach a certain destination by nightfall. Good luck.” 

“But he ain’t got no water. No water up there a’tall.” 

“No, there isn’t,” I replied as I remembered all the trail guide descriptions mentioned such facts. “But there’s plenty of water down there,” I said and pointed. “Horse camp. Horses need lots of water. Little creek down yonder. Even with the drought.” 

“But I don’t wanna hafta go all the way down there and then turn around and come all the way back up that big ol’ hill,” the man protested. “His knee all busted up and all, but he ain’t really drunk or nothin’.”

“Has a shotgun, too, you say?”

“No! Yes! It’s an old one, tho.”

That was it, dammit! I began to feel paranoid, as if this buzzy headed ol’ duffer in the woods wanted to lure me over where he and his gnaw-a-nugget buddy would try to rob my ass, or hell, cut me up, roast me over a fire while giggling, and wolf down my remains like two hungry cannibals driven insane from being too close to the Light for too long. Yes, I had to get away from here. This man smelled untrustworthy, and not because he needed a bath.

“Gotta go. G’bye,” I said as I whirled around and loped off down the trail towards the horse camp. Shit, I had a long ways yet to go! 

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The main trail thru a warren of scattered horse-&-backpacker campsites in the gap between Buck Creek Pass and Liberty Cap. I’m on my way to ascend and contour around Liberty Cap on my way to High Pass and Triad Lake. Day 4.

Water. Trail. Trees, and Sky.

At the bottom were a sprawl of unoccupied horse camps and a few backpacker ones, too. I didn’t see anybody else around down there. Far above Ol’ Wild West Man trudged back towards the tent with the man with the old gun and busted knee. Tanked up on water at the stream, o precious water, crossed thru grazing meadows, found myself at the end of a dead end trail, backtracked, and there, found the trail up the switchbacks zigzagging their way up and around the steep flanks of Liberty Cap Peak. High above me I watched a man in an old red sweater work his way steadily across those high flanks.

Liberty Cap Mountain from near the horse camps. The High Pass Trail zigzags up and around its flanks. I chose not to spend time scrambling up to the summit but to push on to the Upper Napeequa River. The summit stands aloft at 6760++ feet or over 2,060+ meters in height.

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Giant Dakobed looms before us. South/Left to North/Right are the Cool Glacier, the Chocolate Glacier, North Guardian Glacier, and part of the Dusty Glacier. The true peak looms further back. The glacial snouts have receded further than they appear on the map. This is looking down the same valley where the old Triad Creek Trail supposedly vanishes into but from a different angle.

Looking back down at Buck Creek Pass from the rising flanks of Liberty Cap & up at Helmet Butte & Fortress Mountain. Day 4.

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Looping around the slopes and meadows beneath the summit of Liberty Cap Peak. On the right loom the faces of Clark and Luahna Peak. Clark anchors the lower end of the Dakobed Range from Glacier Peak. Day 4 and on my way to the legendary Napeequa!

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Staring into the Face of the Clark – Luahna massif in the Dakobeds. Day 4, Thursday 30 July 2015.

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Traversing the slopes of Liberty Cap. The area has many black bears, but I didn’t see any, darn it. Didn’t see any mountain lions, skunks, raccoons, wolves, coyotes, foxes, sasquatch-bigfoots, UFOs, nor, sadly enough, wolverines. Those big ol’ buggas are on the rebound and are ferocious. Didn’t any. Loved walking thru these beautiful alpine meadows, tho.

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More pasqueflower “truffula trees!”

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Botanical intimacy!

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Scootin’ along USFS Trail 1562.2 on my way towards High Pass and the Upper Napeequa. At this point the trail as swung around from the west side of Liberty Cap to the east side of Peak 7276. A man and a woman scramble up partway above me to find out where in the world they are. The red sweater man had turned around to ramble the higher meadows of Liberty Cap.

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Buck Creek Valley far, far below.

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The trail I’m on is solid and the walking’s wonderfully easy, but one step away is open air and steep, loose rockslide piles. Buck Creek carves thru avalanche scars far below.

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Avalanche scars. Reminds me, however, of a blast zone without a crater. Like the Tunguska Event in Siberia back in 1908.

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There, far ahead on the horizon, in the middle, curves a slight pale notch. I think that’s High Pass. It’s hot. I admire the views and push on.

Cruising along the roller coasting High Pass Trail. Getting closer!

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Triad Lake! Maybe even go for a dip! This barren landscape is usually covered in patches of snow even this time of year. The waterfalls trickling out from the lake down the walls before and below me have all dried up.

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Triad Lake looks deep! And steep!

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No beaches of any kind either.

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Getting closer and closer to High Pass with Triad Lake below. Glacier Peak’s the glacier-shrouded giant in the distance.

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What an alpine jewel! Day 4 & still a long ways to go.

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Looking back upon where I trekked along the High Pass trail back towards Buck Creek Pass.

Looking further back at the meadows & cliffs of Peak 7630. The trail from Buck Creek to High Pass traverses across its steep eastern slope below the summit cliff. Looks like a fun scramble for another trip!

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Fortress Mountain? Not sure, but I love the expansive views. Haze from wildfires grays over the blues, tho.

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Cascadian mountains bereft of usual summer snow with wildfire smoke in the distance. Place feels hot and dry like a desert. The fabled Napeequa seems like a remote oasis.

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In the High Pass basin in areas usually covered in snow.

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Gotta go down into the basin then scramble back up to reach the real High Pass.

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Leviathan of Imagination. Behold an alien Moby Dick left as high and dry as Noah’s Ark.

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Leviathan of Imagination 2: I’m on Mars looking down at a long-crashed Ancient extraterrestrial spaceship half-buried in desert sands.

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Almost there! The last scramble up to High Pass beckons. More of a route over talus and scree without any real trail. Found a few broken trekking pole tips scattered randomly among those rocks and a few silver gum wrappers. I picked up the wrappers but left the snapped off pole tips and baskets behind as artifacts.

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Sun burnt selfie! Close to High Pass, too. Day 4.

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Looking down on Triad Lake with Glacier Peak due west in the far distance.

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I don’t see any safe, quick way down to the water. It would take more time to get down there and back up than I wanted to take. What strange microorganisms might dwell down in those cold waters now so open to the Sun?

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Looking back upon where I’ve come thru the loose soils of High Pass Basin.

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One more push up to the Pass, woo HOO!

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That’s me, a man named William Dudley Bass, atop High Pass. It’s Day 4, & dayum, my last name rhymes with the location. I rest here a while, eat and drink, and at one point shucked my clothes to give myself a wind bath in the breezes swirling thru the pass while my clothes, drenched in sweat, dried upon rocks in the sun. 

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In tired AWE.

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Nope, not climbing down that ladder. The monsters aren’t scary enough.

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The High Pass trail takes off due south towards the far horizon. Mt. Clark sits at the edge of the sky in the left-of-center notch. The route drops down to disappear into the top of the North Fork of the Upper Napeequa’s canyon.

Into the Sky.

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Looking northish-northwest at mighty Mt. Baker, known by the Native American Indians as Koma Kulshan, Kulshan, Kw’eq Smænit, Kwelshán, and Qwú’me Kwelshé:n, among others, with Kulshan being the one adopted by the Alliance to Restore Native Names. The volcano rises to 8,812 meters or 10,781 feet above sea level in height.

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Beautiful, massive Clark Mountain, the tallest of the Dakobeds except for Glacier Peak itself. Clark looms over the Napeequa Valley far below as it rises to 2,622 meters or 8,602 feet in height. I climbed to the summit once back in 1993 with the Seattle Mountaineers. My then-wife Gwen Hughes climbed together with me. Neither of us knew she was pregnant with our first child, daughter Morgan, at the time. An accomplished long-distance thruhiker, Gwen wasn’t on top of her game and kept lagging behind, and I felt exasperated at times as I knew how strong and steady she could be. After we discovered she was pregnant, I felt ashamed how impatient I had been with her atop Clark. I’m deeply sorry, Gwen.

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Looking down into the beginnings of the Upper North Fork of the Upper Napeequa River, which flows into the Upper Napeequa below Clark Mountain. The route down thru the North Fork Napeequa is notoriously difficult as it often disappears into thick, tangled temperate jungles gashed with steep ravines and debris tumbled together by avalanches, landslides, and whitewater floods. The experience is unforgettable.

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Layers of Time in Giant Books of Stones.

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A man & woman trudge uphill out of the Upper Napeequa. They’re photographers, lug packs heavy with camera gear including massive tripods and multiple long lenses. We chatted for a while, glad to see each other. They’ve been out a while, spending more time in locations shooting fotos than hiking big miles. High Pass is perfect. They’re so excited to be so close as they plan to stay all night shooting time-lapse fotos of the night skies so rich in constellations of stars. The Perseid meteor shower, spawned by Comet Swift-Tuttle as it whips around the Sun, peaks this time of year. The couple laughed and grumbled and chuckled, tho, when they admit they failed to consider the impact of the Full Moon upon their celestial sky gazing. But hey, makes for interesting play of shadows in the forests. Shit, cuz me, I think Werewolves and Sasquatchfoots and carnivorous Deer. I take this foto at 16:33:36 on Day 4, and this couple are the last humans I see until the following evening over 24 hours later.

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Ahhh, fresh cold water! The headwaters of the North Fork of the Upper Napeequa River tumble down from a slow chain of pools below High Pass Basin.

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Wild life! So beautiful to see, and yet if this was a long journey thru a post-apocalyptic world or a frontier lifestyle I would’ve already have figured out ways to kill this amazing animal and use everything I could from hides to meat. In the moment, however, I simply enjoyed being present to everything, animal plants stones air soil water sky and gratitude.

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The yin & yang of light & darkness, life & death amidst the dance of shadows. Took this foto at 18:35, same as 6:35 pm, and darkness falls quickly in these narrow, high alpine valleys and canyons. I consider stopping to camp for the night, or pause only to cook & eat, but no, I chose to push on into the jungle-choked river gorge just below these meadows. Still, she’s lovely to behold, this deer.

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Followed overgrown game trails, tried to follow footprints from a number of different people lost in patterns of bewilderment, pushed thru dense tangles of brush and getting all scratched up, crossing one side of the river to the next, a sigh of relief when a nice stretch of trail beckons, groans & curses when it vanishes as this one did on the edge of a steep, flood-scoured ravine. I had to do a few soft, tree-branch “rappels” as I hung from bending branches and small trees to lower myself down steep mini-cliffs into the bottom of ravines. Didn’t wanna meet a bear or a cougar face to face, but all my ridiculous thrashing and grunting probably kept them at bay. Tried to imagine a bear rolling its eyes as this foolish human here and giggled thru sunburnt lips and whiskers.

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Onwards down the tight little valley-canyon I went. Dense, nearly impenetrable bands of alder thickets bordered by clustered krummholz slowed me down considerably. Took this foto about 19:40 on Day 4.

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A wild, remote landscape invites me deeper in. I feel a strange sense of forbiddenness combined with a tired exhilaration.

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More possible campsites tempted me after each brutal bushwhack, and lured by the distant chasm of the Napeequa I go with gravity.

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FINALLY found a section of trail thru alders, ferns, & piles of rocks covered in layers of dirt and silt. Woo HOO!

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Thickets of twilight. Eeriest thing was the silence. Even tho hard of hearing, I had been able to hear the roar of whitewater. Enveloped in greenery gifted me with a disorienting quiet.

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I break out into the main valley of the Upper Napeequa and enough daylight leaves me with more choices than nightfall would’ve. The trail is barely discernible, but the ford across the North Fork is an easy hopscotch as the water level is so unusually low. I feel a sense of relief and accomplishment after reaching this point and looking back up at the dense mats of vegetation I’d pushed down thru. I’m at about 5,000 feet in elevation, and since the campsite noted on the map has been swallowed in river bottom vegetation I elect to keep backpacking. I tank up on water. Tired, scratched up, but feeling strong. Hell, I’m in good shape for a middle-aged fool! Day 4 ain’t over yet!

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No, I’m not cold tho I do look crazy. It is chilly, but I’m armored up for biters. See, the mosquitos & black flies are ferocious and rather large in size. It’s the end of July, and the Napeequa is notorious for its swarms of “bad bugs.”

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Bugs just love me! I’m at my campsite on a high, dry, grassy bank over the river’s edge. I’m excited to finally be down in this fabled Shangri-La of the Glacier Peak Wilderness.

I pushed wearily on, surprised at how strong I still felt even tho tired and hungry. I had initially planned to explore the upper ends of the Napeequa Valley. There’s remnants of old trails above the confluence with the North Fork and one can wander around beneath overhanging glaciers, or ford the Nap to scramble up Butterfly Butte. The trails were so overgrown and the jungle so dense, however, and I elected to push on towards the car. First, however, I needed to cook, drink, eat, and sleep. 

Came upon a good campsite on a sandy bench directly above the river with a little sidetrail going down to the water. Time was 20:30. Time to stop. It was open with great visibility on all sides and thus defendable. Quickly made camp and soon had my stove boiling water.

Did the math, too, as I peered over maps and did calculations with a pencil by headlamp. Left Small Creek camp at 10:45. Arrived here alongside the Napeequa at 20:30. Travel time was 9.45 hours including breaks. Hmn. Lost at least 3 hours with such a late start. The whole experience, however, was perfect anyway. Yes, today was a perfect day, a gorgeous day. I enjoyed the taste of my meal, too, as mosquitos buzzed around my head.

Man, I’m tired. Glad I did not get distracted by side trips such as scrambling up each & every peak from Liberty Cap to Mt. Cleator or going all the way to the saddle of Buck Creek Pass or up Flower Dome with the Boy Scouts. Up out of Buck Creek Pass and on around the ridges to High Pass then bushwhacking down into the Nap was ferocious enough. The last time I did anything crazy fun off the main trails like this was way back in June-July 1986 when I participated in a month-long NOLS Mountaineering Course in the Wind Rivers of Wyoming.

In a sense this journey was one of self-discovery. It’s my first time backpacking solo since before I started having children. Well, maybe I had one overnighter by myself during those years, but all of my trips were with my children and wife or friends or somebody. I was really testing myself out here in this remote region.

Felt proud of myself.

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Werewolf Moon! A full Luna begins her rise into the night mountain skies.

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Wrote more in my journal. Glanced at my watch. Started writing again at 21:35. Reflection and contemplation felt enhanced by the emerging Full Moon, the sounds of whitewater over stones, and sensing big mammals in those thick woods all around my high lonesome field.

Women on my mind. Still healing over my divorce. Much of this trip’s been spent thinking all about my last ex-wife Kristina, the practice of letting her go over & over. She was, at one point, the great love of my life. My remaining attachment to the energy of our mating interfered with the possibility of developing new relationships. Had to break the spell of our erotic intoxication.

Our partnership began with a bang in the midst of a heady brew of polyamory, intentional community, blended families, and deep spirituality back in late 2001. We broke up in 2012, and our divorce became final in July of 2013. So a little more than two years ago from the time of this solo expedition.

Living solo in the wake of such disruption is all really another opportunity to practice the skills of freedom. Aye, freedom! Accept, forgive, love, breathe in, breath out, and let go again and again. Let go and move forward. Remember, but don’t dwell upon it. Let go. Again.

Also wondered about my oldest daughter Morgan back east struggling on the Appalachian Trail. She was attempting a thruhike and dealing with a badly sprained ankle from a mishap during a bad storm in the Great Smokey Mountains. She kept re-injuring her ankle, and her knees developed overcompensation issues. She would go on to complete half of the AT before realizing she needed to stop and return home to heal. I wondered what thoughts and feelings went on inside her head and in her heart. 

Missed Gwen as one of my best hiking buddies ever. She is Morgan’s mom, and together Gwen & I thruhiked the entire AT with some crazy sidehikes way back in 1991. 2200 miles! Later on in 1993 she climbed nearby Clark Mountain while pregnant with Morgan. Gwen is my second ex-wife. I fell into a fitpit of nostalgia as I reminisced about all our adventures traveling and hiking together back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. She doesn’t get out anymore, tho. Her knees and feet bother her more and more, and such pain led to her getting out of shape as she shifted her interests more to playing music and paddling boats.

My family and I have an enduring history with the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Gwen and I took our kids several times into Spider Meadows and other places nearby. Morgan’s first five-plus mile hike on her own two feet was along the Phelps Creek Trail to Spider Meadows. We took Katie there. Later on after our divorce Gwen and her partner Carol would take their kids hiking and camping up to Spider Meadows. Kristina and I did several backpacking trips into Spider Meadows, some alone, and others with Talia and once with Talia and Kate and our doggie Jo. Now I came alone with my children scattered to the winds. My eldest felt so far away yet I could almost feel her thru the planet on the other side of North America.

Missed my younger kids, too. Kate, whom I adopted with Gwen, and Talia, whom I help raised with Kristina, were busy doing their own things. Missed them around. But I doubt they would have relished the ferocious bushwhack today. Wore me out, it did, and I’m so proud of myself for pushing forward over the mountains and deeper into this incredible valley.

Even so, I realized part of letting go of the past is letting go not only of the sadness around families fragmented and recombined by divorces but also of children growing up and away. Gwen and I last did our big all-family camping trip with our two kids in the Summer of 2001. Kristina and I did our last one with all three kids in the Summer of 2011. The three of us adults with our kids plus another family did combined family trips for two summers in a row, ending in 2003. While we did these family camping & hiking road trips to many places, these last ones for each family combination were all in Olympic National Park. In the here-now of 2015, however, I hike and camp alone in the Glacier Peak Wilderness.

Many of the other women in my life cycled thru my memories, and I sat in the light of the Full Moon by the soft roar of the river and grinned. I had to let go of all of them. Focus on loving myself and letting go of attachments to the past and what might have been. Letting go of sexual cravings and romantic fantasies. Letting go of heartbreak and disappointment. I chose to sit in the furnace of deep grief and emptiness. Breath. Breathe in. Breath out. Breathing’s all part of healing from divorce. Breathe in. Breath. Be here now. And keep writing. Keep writing.

Looking upstream into the Upper Napeequa Valley. It’s well after 21:00 on the evening of Day 4. Biting bugs still fly thick. I imagine black bears and a tribe of Sasquatch hanging out watching me. And smelling me, too! It is quiet. I am alone. The sound of the river relaxes me. I feel simultaneously at one with everything and also as an outsider, a visitor, intruder even. Hmm, an intruder into my own home. For I could live here except the winter avalanches and spring floods would kill me and food might be scarce mid-winter. This is a great campsite and is about a third of the way from the North Fork Napeequa to Louis Creek on river left.

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Awoke from a nightmare last night by Small Creek. Followed me all the way here to the banks of the Napeequa.

In the dream, I drove my car past a gang of men beating another man to death as I approached the crossing over the railroad tracks. All around on this side of the tracks were tall, chain link fences, stacks of big metal barrels, piles of junk, stacks of lumbar, dirt, mud, trash, and gravel. A long, impossibly long train rumbled slowly by on squeaking wheels and blocked the road and all ways forward. I was nervous. The gang felt like one of those nasty warlord bands common in post-apocalyptic movies.

I jumped out of my car & ran. I’m white, but the gangsters were black, which bothered me because they probably think I’m automatically a racist just because I’m white. Truth is my whiteness confers upon me a certain privilege. Feels like being chained to shadows and ghosts who won’t let go. Perhaps they think I have money, too. I’m not a racist, however, and I’m broke at the moment. I was unable to identify whom they killed, too, except that he was a man coated in blood. But I’m scared, as I don’t want to get bludgeoned to death. I’m trapped here behind a miles-long train and a gang.

One of my coworkers from REI whom I’ll call Summer Tam (not her real name, but I’ll let the syfy buffs among you figure it out) shows up in this baffling, disturbing dream. In real life she’s a quiet, friendly, and helpful. Summer’s kinda short, loves zipping down the snowy slopes of steep mountains, and loves to travel. Hey, most of us do where I work. Here, however, Summer Tam jumps out of nowhere and crouches into a martial arts stance. In this dream she looks about 15 yrs younger, has crazy blonde hair, and knows Kung Fu. She has the face of my coworker in real life but otherwise looks like the quirky science nerd Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter movies. Weird! Why are these two characters in my dream and fused as one? What does Summer Tam represent in my dream? Maybe I should’ve named her Luna Fu!

The gang members charge us dressed for combat like those neo-fascist Ukrainian ultranationalists who battled government forces in the Battles of the Maiden during the Ukrainian Euromaiden Revolution of 2013-2014. The Battles of the Maiden were fought in Kyiv, the national capital, with the bloodiest and most pivotal one waged between the 18th and the 21st of February 2014.

Civilian combatants waged urban street warfare dressed in homemade armor and wielded homemade weapons. They looked like a Postmodern version of Medieval warriors, like a rabid mix of Mad Max-style gladiators and American football. But they were all white Slavic dudes. Here they were transformed into shadows, like impoverished, desperate versions of Darth Vader without a cloak.

Well, Summer Tam, my travelin’ coworker turned Martial Artist turned Luna Lovegood goes ballistic. She quickly flips and pivots while kicking and karate chopping down all of the gang members. BAM! POW! CHOP CHOP BOOM SLAM thunky chunk chunk SPURT ka-POW!!!!!!!

Summer Tam attacks the gang leader. Kills him with her hands and fingers. Without any warning she quickly rips off the man’s ears and places them gently atop his chest. My surprise turned to shock. My eyes zeroed in on blood-splattered ears turned up and laid upon the dead man’s chest as if those ears were a pair of pretty, red roses. Woke up quickly. Sat up in my bivy sack wide-awake at 8:00 this morning all tangled up in my sleeping bag.

This dream haunted me off & on all day. All day!

Now I sit here by the river scribbling down the details many miles and hours away from where I’d last slept and dreamed this disturbing dream. What did it mean? What were the racial connotations all about? After all, during this time in my life I survived several terrible years of nearly everything during the Great Global Recession to embezzlement, job loss, fire, an explosion, divorce, homelessness, and illness. I’m a radical mix of spiritual mystic and revolutionary Leftist activist, a democratic neo-communist in my Virginia youth and later a Green Party member in Seattle who after Occupy joined the more dynamic, get-shit-done Socialist Alternative. As a creative person I embraced the Cultural Creatives as they emerged during the Anti-Globalization revolts. Among my deeper loves, however, was life as an outdoor adventurer and traveler. I’m engaged with people from all around the world. Yet I wonder…Did being out in the backcountry far from all the news, so much of it negative and gloomy doomy, trigger some kind of subconscious anxiety? Am I a product of our Postmodern Age of Anxiety, the result of world wars, pandemics, global economic crises, cold wars edgy with threats of detonating nuclear and thermonuclear weapons, climate change, and never-ending genocides and terrorism? Ah, I turned to Nature as medicine.

Seen too many movies and read too many books about people who emerged from time in the wilderness only to discover civilization had collapsed with staggering casualties. In fact on every long backcountry trip I’ve ever been on, including my NOLS Mountaineering Course in the Wind Rivers, someone eventually makes a joke how wonderful it is to be out in the mountains because we wouldn’t even know if the world blew up. At any rate I won’t let myself worry any further about this, just go ahead and admit my shame and horror and confusion in regards to this dream, my dream, and move forward.

As a human being and as a man, I know what my ethics and values are, and I know what I stand for.

Full Moon in the eastern skies from the river left shores of the Napeequa. Venus is close, and so is Jupiter. Day 4 comes to an end. Despite how tired I am, however, Luna’s brightness interferes with sleep. I’m a well-hydrated man after a later meal, too, and that means frequent scrambles out of my sleeping bag & bivy sack to urinate in rings around my campsite.

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It’s Morning on Friday the 31st of July 2015, Day 5. Are all the big mammals over there in the forests on the other side of the river?

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Looking upstream from where I came down last night. The gash in the center veering uphill to the right is the canyon of the North Fork Napeequa. I’m also repacking my pack. Wasn’t sure if I would spend another night in the backcountry or get on back to my car at Trinity. Chilly in the morning shadows of mountains.

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Sunshine hits. I’m taking my time, hanging out enjoying the views and the sounds. I don’t see anyone else. Not even a bear.

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The Napeequa River at low water.

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Thrilled to think I was finally in the remote and difficult to access Napeequa Valley, the Shangri-La of the Glacier Peak Wilderness.

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The way forward across open meadows and thru dense, tangled brush. Somewhere way up there is Little Giant Pass. Didn’t seem far on the map, but the trail’s so overgrown and eroded.

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I so enjoy the solitude and remoteness of the Upper Napeequa I consider either staying here for the day or hiking on downstream to camp near the junction with the old PCT detour from across the river & down from Boulder Pass.

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Self-portrait by the Author. OK, a selfie in the wilderness.

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Stop and smell the flowers! Cease thy mad rush to conquer what only conquers thee.

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The whitewater paddler in me imagines high water roaring thru this little gorge below and kayaking down thru those scary fun rapids into the unknown. Be quite a haul to get kayaks back upstream during high water.

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Louis Creek Falls. The waters fall into the Napeequa on river left from the northeast. Friday morning on the 31st July 2015, Day 5.

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Some kind of wild carrot. Can’t quite tell if this is a foto of cow parsnip (Heracleum lanatum), which grows thick in this high mountain river valley. Some people develop severe chemical burns from the furocoumarin toxins the plant evolved to use ultraviolet light radiation to kill attacking insects. UV light causes sunburns, snow blindness, accelerated skin aging, and may trigger skin cancers. For a plant to use UV radiation as a deadly defense against insect pests is amazing and humbling.

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There were some campsites near the junction of Louis Creek and the Napeequa, but I moved on. I determined to go as far as I could before dark.

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Looking up at some of the rocks & glaciers of the Clark Mountain-Luahna Peak complex in the Dakobed Range across the river.

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Butterfly Butte across the river below Clark-Luahna. Butterfly’s 1,811 m/5,942 ft tall & is one of the exploratory side trips I chose to cut out of my itinerary. I felt obsessed with how many miles I could do at my age thru such rugged terrain.

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More views of Clark Mountain.

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Looking downstream thru the Napeequa Valley. I discovered those dense alder thickets were also boggy and muddy with seeps and slow streams. Somewhere on the horizon was a steep grunt up Little Giant Pass. Didn’t see all that far, but the route was sometimes challenging to discern thru the brush as game trails dead ended and the main trail had deteriorated from a severe lack of funding. Our federal regime, run by Democrats and Republicans both, remains bent on capitalist, imperialist nation-building abroad in the Middle East, Central Asia, and elsewhere. All in the name of freedom and democracy. It does so in part due to the short-term, shortsighted conspiracies of greed arising from the Anarchy of Capitalism. It’s also partly from the unconscious inertia of a broken system, a real human system kept in motion by creatures of habit, metaphorically tumbling downhill towards an inevitable crash upon the rocks below. One must realize the truth even if they don’t want to see, hear, smell, taste, or feel the truth: everything material is economics, everything is politics, and everything is environment. Even those would be moot points if more people understood there are deeper levels of reality where everything is also spiritual or at least rooted in consciousness. Consciousness interpenetrates matter as a form of interplay with the material world. And here we are.

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Yes, here we are. Looking back whence I came.

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Flanks of Clark Mountain. I last climbed it back in 1993.

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Awe.

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Getting pretty darn scratched up, twanged, and thwopped. Looking back behind me. Lots of animal tracks down these paths, too.

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Had to work my way toward those long gashes in the thickets. That’s the trail; tho the ground underfoot was a wet, muddy bog. I began to see signs of horses and where horsemen had recently cleared or cut down some brush here and there, tho not much.

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Clark Glacier on the flanks of Clark Mountain ahead. Boulder Pass Trail winds down from there, vanishes in the jungle, and crosses the Napeequa at a roll of the dice ford down below.

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Traversed those glaciers to climb those peaks 22 years ago. The summit I climbed with then-wife Gwen Hughes & the Seattle Mountaineers is out of site picture-right.

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Trail snakes down & around from Boulder Pass over there. My intention is to go the opposite way, however, up to Little Giant Pass.

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Wow, a historical artifact.

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Hard to believe long before the miners came in cowboys would drive cattle over these steep mountain passes and graze the lush Napeequa. Sheepherders would do the same with their flocks. At one time one could still find the scattered bones of broken skeletons from horses and livestock along the steepest part of the climb. Those old, nearly forgotten Wild West stories remind me, weirdly enough, of an event from the Second World War: British Forest Manager Billy Williams and his war elephant Bandoola led a strange mix of elephants and Burmese refugees on an epic climb up a nearly impassable steep cliff along the Burmese-Indian frontier to escape the Japanese invasion. Elephants hate hills, and this was a cliff. They made it! Also wondered if Native American tribes harvested, hunted, and fished up in this high valley long centuries ago, and if any clans of Sasquatch hid out in this remote, rarely visited area.

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Water is energy. Water is life. And so is light. A “river runs thru it” all.

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Out of those damn, thwacky ass alder bogs at last! The valley spreads out then narrows down to end in a narrow gorge that plummets down thru the mountains. No trails go down in there, tho, and the kayaker in me wonders what’s down in that canyon? The trail begins to veer away from following the river to begin its march uphill towards Little Giant Gap.

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Feels really hot now.

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Temperature’s up in the 90s down here in Shangri-La…and rising.

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Somewhere in the steep middle between ledges & cliff bands meanders what remains of the old trail to Little Giant Gap. I wonder if I would find any skeletons of horses, cows, & sheep. Doubt it. Those days are lifetimes ago.

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Looking back down and across the valley.

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The Napeequa slows down and coils before unleashing itself as a giant serpent river down thru the mountains.

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I’m intensely curious about what lies beyond the end of the valley. How runnable is the gorge? Is it choked with logs shoved down by avalanches? Or kept flushed by raging torrents of cascading whitewater? Exploring via Google Earth reveals some answers.

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Gazing across the Napeequa Valley with Clark Mountain to the left. Climbing up out of there was arduous. The trail was severely eroded with gullies and plunge holes partially hidden by clumps of grass. Often it petered out into narrow, crumbly paths along cliff bands where a fall would be dangerous or worse. Some deadended in goat tracks, and one had to scramble up over rocky bands to find a wayward switchback. No water. Little shade. Temperatures already over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the open sun. The views were spectacular, tho, and sublime.

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I recognized my body was on the verge of heat stroke. Desperate for water, I would take short breaks under low clumps of thin bushes or in the shade of a skinny tree. Often had to crouch beneath these short shrubs. Once I crawled into a dark plunge hole on the edge of the trail. Felt nice and cool down in that dirt hole even after I imagined spiders crawling around back in there. Back out into the hot, dead sun. I had to slow down so I wouldn’t pass out. Going slow, however, meant going longer without water. Had to focus. One step at a time. Focus. Enjoy the beauty. Focus. Slow my breathing down. Focus. Breathe deeper, too. Will my pulse to drop. Focus. Focus. Focus. Uh-Oh! Watch my step there. Feeling shaky. Felt shaky. Shaky shaky! Still no people anywhere. No breeze. The midday sun was relentless. The air was hot and stagnant. I baked in an oven from sunlight reflected off rocks and sandy soil. Shit, ol’ Shangri-La was killing me! Oh, what a view, tho!

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It’s a long tumble down.

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The Valley of the Upper Napeequa is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my 56 years.

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Finally found really good shady area to rest. Badly roasted & dehydrated, too. Hadn’t peed in a long time and noticed how dark my urine had turned. Gosh, it looked like I was peeing out root beer and cola. My body was catabolizing and breaking down muscle tissue as well as concentrating toxins for me to pee out. Felt better after this rest. Moved slowly to conserve energy in the heat. Temperature reads 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Damn, it’s hot. I felt faint, but I refused to swoodle all squiddy.  Glad to finally see I’m not too far from the top distance wise, but I plod grimly on. Still a long ways to go even after I attain the Pass.

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Ya, pretty HAPPY for having almost died! Ha Ha!

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Little Giant Pass at last! It sits along Chiwawa Ridge at almost 1,951 meters or 6,400 feet, and is only 3.7 miles from the Boulder Pass Trail fords the Napeequa River. Took me long, hot, steep hours to climb up, hours longer than I anticipated or had enough water for. Being over 100 degrees without water was surprisingly scary. All of the streams had dried up in the drought.

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Smoke from rapidly growing wildfires over in the Entiat and around Holden Village along Lake Chelan rises over the horizon. According to my Green Trails map, I’ve 5.2 miles to go all the way downhill to ford the Chiwawa River to the Little Giant Pass Trailhead. I must find water!

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Farewell, Napeequa! I intend to visit at least once more before I die.

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Many scrambles beckon from the knobby peaks along Chiwawa Ridge. Small campsites, too, and I must find water.

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I’m tempted to scramble all the way up to the top even tho I feel weak, shaky, and badly sunburned. But I must find water. I’m feeling somewhat ill with heat exhaustion at this point, so I chose to turn downhill towards the Chiwawa River. I finally found water in a seep of springs around a cluster of empty campsites below the Pass. I drank and drank and drank and filled every bottle. Rested in cool shade, slapped the biting flies, and drank some more. Finally, at some point, I was able to urinate. 

Wolverine Fire as seen from top of Little Giant Pass. The fire will eventually spread down into the Entiat River Valley one drainage over from Spider Meadows and Phelps Creek. Foto taken with a Samsung Android Smart Fone.

Wolverine Fire as seen from top of Little Giant Pass. The fire will eventually spread down into the Entiat River Valley one drainage over from Spider Meadows and Phelps Creek. Foto taken with my Samsung Android Smart Fone. Meanwhile, the trail drops down into areas scarred by a severe forest fire from a few years back. The trail weaved around burnt logs, fire-cracked boulders, and skittered in and out of crazy tilt ravines. It was hard! Almost decided to crash and camp, but looked up and spied widowmakers. The forest canopy around the edges of the burned-out areas was littered with widowmakers. Steep, crumbly trails dropping down off burned-over boulders made for slow going. Beyond the burn zone, fortunately, the descending trail became easy. Finally encountered more humans. Three young white men came chugging uphill. They looked as if they’ve been drinking alcohol, sweat soaked their faces and clothes, and one carried a rifle. We nodded hello, and I decided to push on down the mountain. Day 5, Friday 31 July 2015. 

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Finally down to the drought-stricken Chiwawa River. It’s about 20:30 – 21:00 as twilight falls on Friday night, 31 July 2015. Behind me lay the ruins of a large but abandoned USFS campground closed after one too many floods took out the bridge across the river. I almost camped there. Or here. I was exhausted. Perhaps I should have. But obsessed with doing more miles this day plus wanting to get home and heal, I chose to push on.

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A few minutes before sitting down to shuck off my boots & socks to ford the Chiwawa River on the cusp of darkness. That’s my lightweight backpack over there on the right with my trekking poles resting against the log. The water is shockingly low even for this time of year. A crossing once feared proves easy as the water was barely over my ankles and mid-calf at most. Water felt tepid. Day 5, Friday 31 July 2015.

After I forded the Chiwawa, I sat down on the riverbank and soaked my feet awhile. Felt really good. After drying off and putting my socks and boots back on, lightweight trail boots, I began the long trudge up the dusty road back to the Buck Creek Trailhead at Trinity. I could almost smell smoke, but it was the smell of a drought-stricken forest.

Had to step aside each time cars or truck, all with blazing headlights, rumbled next to me churning up a fog of dust in the dark. Moonlight glittered off floating dust. Stubbornly I kept walking, as it was my intention to complete the loop on foot, but secretly wishing I’d camped back across the river. There were excellent, beautiful wild spots back there, and I had food and fuel for several more days.

All the vehicles passing me kept going as I breathed thru my dirty, salt-encrusted bandana. I’d only gone about a quarter-mile or so from the ford, however, when a man and his dog drove by in his truck on the way to Trinity. They were from Edmonds, and the guy offered me a lift. I apologized for being so stinky & dirty for the inside of his cab, while cluttered, was so clean and new. 

“Oh, get on in,” he insisted and waved me on. 

For one crazy ass moment I hesitated. I wanted to get the miles under my belt. But it was already after 21:30 and the road walk was a few more miles. Every time a car or truck spun by they churned up clouds of thick, choking dust. Wore my bandana back up as a dust mask. But it was dark down here beneath the roadside trees growing tall and thick in this valley forest, and I still felt somewhat shaky from my brush with sunstroke and dehydration.

OK, I nodded accepted Thus I set aside my ego, gave up the miles, gave up walking a complete loop, pulled myself up into his cab, and sat down. The driver heard me exhale with relief as I surrendered to his luxurious, cushioned seat. Felt strange sitting upon it, too. I pushed away those gnatty nips of guilt.

“Here,” my new friend said after he fished around in his cooler. “Have this.”

He presented me with an ice-cold Dr. Pepper soda. Wow. I rarely ever drink soft drinks anymore, but I made an exception this time.

“This feels so good,” I said as I held the cold bottle against my face before guzzling its contents down. “Y’know, I don’t drink sodas much, but, hey, Dr. Pepper was my favorite drink as a kid. Remember those glass bottles with the white clock face in red trim with the red hands and numbers?”

“Oh yeah!” the man said and laughed as we bounced along with his bright, new headlights piercing thick clouds of dust.

He drove me up to the Buck Creek Trailhead, and I thanked him profusely. His gift of the Dr. Pepper made my day. Well, the whole experience from the time I awoke was incredible, but the icy cold drink before driving home was a treat. I felt deep gratitude for such unexpected service from a stranger! 

Thank you, Steve of Edmonds, Washington! Thank you!

Day 5 came to an end. I had originally planned 8 days minimum, but I had done the main loop in 4 & a half instead. I backpacked about 11.5 to 12 miles this Friday, and drove home to Seattle. Arrived back where I lived in the Green Lake area about 1:00 in the morning. Saturday already! Was dirty, tired, and proud of my accomplishment. My first solo hike in ages, too.

Altho I felt fine, my body still took time to recover from the sunburn and dehydration. Turns out I was in greater danger than I realized. As an over-hydrator who drinks copious amounts of water, I feel embarrassed I became dehydrated in the first place. But there wasn’t any water, however, after I left the river, the climb up to the pass far exceeded the time I expected, and the lack of sleep got me. Found out later I had rhabdomyolysis, or “rhabdo,” a disease of sorts where skeletal muscle tissue deteriorates quickly. I felt faint, weak, shaky, confused, stiff, and nauseous. My urine looked like a mix of Coca-cola and coffee. Pissing it out felt thicky. Plus I was scared as if about to keel over with heat stroke, pass out, and die on the side of the mountain.

This case of rhabdo was caused by extreme and prolonged physical exertion in heat stroke conditions. Rapid muscle breakdown releases large amounts of myoglobin proteins causing damage to the kidneys. Severe rhabdo leads to kidney failure, and secondary bacterial and viral infections may set in. My condition was exacerbated by taking ibuprofen for muscle and joint pain, as “ibu” is hard on the kidneys. One is supposed to drink lots of water to help the kidneys process out the ibuprofen. I also took Adderall for ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. Adderall is a composition of amphetamine salts, and in combination with dehydration and overexercise can also contribute to the onset of rhabdomyolysis.

While I did pushed myself hard on difficult trails and off-trail high routes, reputedly far physically more demanding than hiking the graded-for-horses Pacific Crest Trail, the biggest culprit in my rhabdo crisis was chronic and serious sleep deprivation. The long hours of laying wide awake in the dark only to finally fall asleep around the time I had planned to wake up for an early sunrise start wreaked havoc on my solo athletic performance as a middle-aged backpacker and scrambler. The stress also triggered an odd flare-up of a cluster of mild autoimmune disorders that plagued me off and on for over a year.

Stupidly didn’t go to my doctor for a long time. She blew up at me. 

“Are you crazy? You should be DEAD! Why did you wait so long?”

I shrugged and mumbled back I rested and drank lots and lots of water. “God must have other plans for me, I guess,” I said. “Besides it was a beautiful place to die. It was so incredibly beautiful being outside so high up on the side of the mountain looking back down and across the valley.”

“Bullshit!” she retorted. “You yourself said you were scared!”

My dear primary health care provider, by the way, and I had a friendly professional relationship, and she was free to speak freely and bluntly. I respected her fierce stand for her patients as human beings, even when they act stupid as I apparently did on the side of the mountain. It was strength of will, however, with deep inner drive to persevere and succeed that kept me alive. Did I pray and talked with God and Goddess as well as my Spirit Guides and Guardian Angels? Of course I did, and they all helped as a community of the bodymindheartsoulspirit divine.

These were all life lessons, and I learned what to do so as to better prepare for the next time I venture forth into the Wild. Yes, I will be out again. I would be back. I shall go forth to explore new places. All of the rest of my life awaits. All of the rest of your life awaits, too, for you. Go have at it, have at it all, and enjoy the journey. 

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William Dudley Bass
July & October 2015
Off & On across 2016
January & February 2017
Seattle, Washington
Cascadia

 

NOTES:

Mining Issues: For anyone interested in mining issues, see this page on the topic as “Mineral Extraction continues to threaten the ecosystem,” on the North Cascades Conservation Council’s website at: <http://www.northcascades.org/wordpress/mining>.

Hiking & Climbing info: Feel free to contact me regarding any trail or backcountry information you may be interested in. Keep in mind all things change including trails, rivers, coastlines, mountainsides, roads, political jurisdictions, environmental versus energy conflicts, et cetera.

Much info can be found on-line, including private individual and group blogs of their adventures. Classic guidebooks for both hiking trails and climbing routes are invaluable. I studied quite a few including some out-of-print ones. The USFS sites for the local and regional national forests are also helpful, especially when planning logistics, contact info, and for emergencies. Hiking, camping, & climbing maps and trip reports can also be found on the following websites:

The Mountaineers: https://www.mountaineers.org/

Washington Trails Association (WTA): http://www.wta.org/

Summit Post: http://www.summitpost.org/

Green Trails Maps: http://greentrailsmaps.com/

USGS Maps: https://www.usgs.gov/products/maps/overview

National Geographic Maps: http://www.natgeomaps.com/trail-maps.

Fotos & other images: All images are protected by copyright with all rights reserved until Wise Stewardship of our Earth and Solarian Commons is established. All fotografs were composed and taken by me using a Nikon D90 Camera I purchased in 2010 unless otherwise noticed such as the rare use of my Samsung/Android Smartfone Camera. My primary lesson to learn from this foto expedition is the need for a tall yet lightweight tripod to stabilize even high-speed digital cameras and enhance framing and composition. I wrestle with the idea of carrying such additional weight. Enjoy the pictures, however, and thank you!

 

Copyright © 2015, 2016, 2017 by William Dudley Bass.

All Rights Reserved

until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for

our Earth and Solarian Commons.

Thank you.

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One thought on “Solo into the Glacier Peak Wilderness, July 2015

  1. Pingback: William Dudley Bass | Philosopher & Storyteller | Lyman Glacier Melts Away: Global Climate Disruption in One Local Spot

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