Day 163: (21.35 miles)
mile 2502.28 – 2523.63
Everything outside our tent is damp. Is it going to rain we wonder? Not taking any chances we put pack covers on so we can quickly transition into rain mode. We hike along, mostly weaving through open forest with small ups and downs, when Paul spots what looked like a small bear near the trail in front of us (me). Paul grabs me from behind to stop me, as I am oblivious to moving furry mass. It was running up a hillside and then dove into a round hole in the ground. Phew. Not a bear, unless these ones live in holes in the ground. When it disappeared we both thought, what was that? As we closed in on the critter, it popped out of the hole and stood up looking at us. It was probably thinking the same thing we were. “What are you?” It looked like a beaver without the wide flat tail. We had seen marmots before, but this would have been a marmot on steroids.
Paul took his pack off and scrambled up the hill to take a better look. It wasn’t bothered in the least as he approached. It seemed to almost pose for the pictures. We concluded it was a badger or ground hog, and was the first time we had ever seen one.
On the way back down the hill, several grouse popped up near Paul. He went into hunting mode immediately. He swears he going to eat one before we finish the trail. It’s quite the comedy to watch him chase them with his poles. They seem to like the chase and stay just out of reach before taking flight into a tree or gliding downhill. He grumbles, ‘why does he waste his time’, and then with the next breath, promises he’s going to get one for dinner. After 40 minutes we hurry on down the trail only to see another furry critter standing on a boulder. Wow, two in one day we say. A few minutes later we see these critters, everywhere. They didn’t care we were there. One even built his home on the side of the trail. He was a character (if he was human). He built his home with a hole in the side of the trail and he had a second hole out the roof. He would duck in his hole and pop out the top like a jack in the box.
He posed for a picture like the gopher in the movie, “Caddy Shack”. If we would have played some music, he may have danced. I swear this critter could smile too. We walked away laughing about how Paul chased the first one down for a picture and now they were everywhere. It was about that time when the drizzle started, so we suited up in our rain gear. Most the time we put on rain gear and that is enough to stop the rain from occurring, but not today. It started to pour within minutes, and lasted for at least an hour. We sloshed along, grateful we carried rain gear and wondered what we were missing in this low cloud cover.
We met Seeds just waking up at Sally Ann Lake (8am). He had battled an attack of mini bears (mice) all night. They had chewed holes in his tent to get to his food. In the dark he had chased them around the inside of his tent till he got them to exit the door. Later they returned and he awoke with them running across his face. As we talked the rain stopped and the sky began to clear. Seeds saw his opportunity to pack up, and we moved on.
Your senses are saturated with the sights, sounds aromas that fill what is defined as the Glacier Peak Wilderness. It, so far, is our favorite section of Washington. The hillsides were covered with blueberry bushes, whose leaves have turned red, so we were on high alert for bear, especially considering the number of bears we saw yesterday. We summited Kodak Peak (which was aptly named) and saw a large black object on a hillside in the distance.
Too large to be a bear… we thought. We watched as this large object moved through the berry bushes and sat down. Wow, this was a big bear! The trail drifted away from where the bear was feeding, which was alright with us. We walked on high alert and now saw lots of objects that looked like bears, but weren’t. We were now suffering from bearanoia (that’s “bear” for paranoia).
We stopped for lunch at the top of Red Pass, which gave us spectacular views of the Glacier Peak Wilderness. The sun had been out for a few hours and we took advantage of the heat to dry our tent and air out our sleeping bags.
and small waterfalls. It was an uneventful afternoon until we had to rock hop across the creek. You probably already know what happens since I don’t do water crossings well. And you’re right… another gosh darn soaker! Everyone saw it and laughed. In my world, everyone is Paul, who lighted across the rocks in the creek as if there was a sidewalk, and asked me ‘why’ I did that… really? All I could do was walk it dry, so off we went. We had one more crossing to make before looking for a campsite, and it was Kennedy Bridge.
Oh goodie, a bridge! This bridge had seen better days and we were surprised to see how it was positioned. It looked as if it had collapsed in the middle and the water rushed just below the center. Paul crossed with caution, but the bridge was sturdy and never budged. We’re not sure if this was intentionally designed this way or if high water had caused the bridge to collapse. The only thing I cared about was keeping my other shoe was dry. Safe on the other side, we walked as the trail went back into the forest and searched for a campsite. The sun had begun to set, and the thick forest blocked the remaining light. This, is when I stepped into a mud puddle (with the dry foot, of course) up to my ankle. Saying a few choice words, I shook my foot and mud flew off. Paul smiled, and knew better than to say anything. Two soakers, and at the end of the day. Damn it! Shortly afterwards we found a campsite, and I took off those still sopping wet shoes…Rrrrr.