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The Valleys and Ridges of Glacier Peak

The Spider Gap – Buck Creek loop is one of the most popular trips in the north Cascades. For 40 miles the trail winds through the Glacier Peak Wilderness. It takes the traveler through low, emerald valleys and atop high alpine ridges.

Spider Gap

The trail along Phelps Creek is well used by hikers and hunters. It is a wide horse road, leading through thick woods. When I arrive in the middle of the week there are three different groups heading out, but no one else going in. It looks as if I have hit a lull in the summer crowds.

At the head of the valley the forest thins, giving way to wide meadows, good camps, and the remnants of avalanche slides. Two grouse hunters were tramping through the meadows, and one person hunting the opening of archery season for deer. None of them had so far had any luck.

Spider Meadow

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This Great Map of the Magnificent

Esmeralda

These here is God’s finest scupturings! And there ain’t no laws for the brave ones! And there ain’t no asylums for the crazy ones! And there ain’t no churches, except for this right here! And there ain’t no priests excepting the birds. By God, I are a mountain man, and I’ll live ‘til an arrow or a bullet finds me. And then I’ll leave my bones on this great map of the magnificent…

Del Gue, Jeremiah Johnson

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Yonder, to the Alpine Lakes

Mountains lie all about, with many difficult turns leading here and there. The trails run up and down; we are martyred with obstructing rocks. No matter how well we keep the path, if we miss one single step, we shall never know safe return. But whoever has the good fortune to penetrate that wilderness, for his labors will gain a beatific reward, for he shall find there his heart’s delight. The wilderness abounds in whatsoever the ears desire to hear, whatsoever would please the eye: so that no one could possible wish to be anywhere else. And this I well know; for I have been there.

Gottfried von Strassburg, Tristan and Isolde

Day One

Up the Foss River. Trout Lake to Copper Lake to Big Heart.

Towards the High Country

Sign for Malachite and Copper

Stones to Copper Lake

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A Pack For the Mountains

A Pack for the Mountains

We have packed everything we need for the trip in a backpack. If the backpack is light, we will walk more easily. With a heavy pack, we walk with bended knees, and a slower pace.

Having a lot of belongings takes a toll. Things can determine how we live, requiring monthly payments, maintenance and repair.

When we can carry all our life’s necessities on our backs, we can go where we want.

On a journey, we sleep on the ground. We cook food over a fire. Life is simple. Everyone who pursues simple life, does so by choice.

On a journey, whatever we can’t do without is a life necessity. This is the question raised during the journey by actual situations, what is needed for a society based on life-necessities. Is there something better than what we experience in our daily life, and if so, what is it? Why do we practice simple life? Does exertion have any positive value? Almost everything in simple life requires more exertion that our daily life.

Having nice things and being comfortable has become the norm in our society, which consumes steadily more resources so that we can live more and more comfortably. This is characteristic of an industrial growth society.

When we take with us only our life’s necessities, our equipment must last, it must be of high quality.

Roger and Sarah Isberb, Simple Life “Friluftsliv”: People Meet Nature

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Into the Red Buttes Wilderness

Avagdu and I pulled into the trailhead around 7 PM. After getting our gear together, we decided to take advantage of the long summer evening to log a few miles. The trail into the Red Buttes Wilderness climbs steadily through pine woods. It’s dry and dusty with the lack of rain. But that’s to be expected. We’re back in California, after all.

Occasional glimpses of large slides and the valley below can be had through the trees. Soon enough, the sun sets behind the hills. I remove the headlamp from my pack and throw it around my neck. Avagdu stops a minute later to do the same. There’s another hour or so of good hiking to be got yet.

Our destination this night is Echo Lake. I don’t think it’s too much further down the trail. After I wet my feet in a stream crossing, I figure we must be close, but the sun is down, the moon not yet risen, and I’m worried I’ll miss the spur trail that goes off to the lake. Shortly after the crossing we’re surprised by a small wilderness camp: a shelter made of 4 upright posts and a few pine boughs for a roof, a table, a bit of firewood, and what is either an attempt at a chair or a Nessmuk-style fire. I can’t tell which. It’s an impressive setup. “Someone Ray Mears-ed it up,” Avagdu says. The only thing we can’t figure out is why the shelter is lashed together with duct tape rather than cordage. Or why the bundle of firewood is wrapped in duct tape.

Wilderness Camp

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Along the Wild Coast

Arriving at Rialto Beach just past 1:00 PM, I took a few minutes to stuff my food into the bear can I had borrowed from the Ranger Station on my way out. The cans are required to keep food secure not from bears, but from marauding raccoons. This was to be the third year I had hiked the Olympic Coast in Winter and, outside of the Sierra Nevada, these have been the only times I’ve carried a bear can. Still, thanks to the warmer temperatures along the coast, even with the can my pack feels light compared to what I must carry this time of year when high in the mountains.

High tide had been at 11:30 AM. It is still high enough to make beach-walking difficult. I opt to make my way through the thick trees and marsh instead of braving the beach. There are no cars in the parking lot when I leave, but I surprise two people panning for gold along a small creek. Neither are talkative. When I ask if they had found anything, the one only replies “a little”. I don’t know if that is the truth, or if he was just anxious to get me gone.

I spend an hour in the woods. The tide is low enough now that I can make my way down to the beach, exchanging thick trees for wet sand. Occasionally I have to run up the beach and jump on top of driftwood to escape from the occasional wave, but for the most part the way is easy going between Rialto and Hole-in-the-Wall.

Rialto Beach

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Solstice Ramble Along Deer Creek

I can’t think of a better way to spend the winter solstice than breaking trail in fresh powder.

Blue Sky

Winter Loadout

Trail

Days and months are the travelers of eternity. So are the years that pass by… I myself have been tempted for a long time by the cloud-moving wind — filled with a strong desire to wander… I walked through mists and clouds, breathing the thin air of high altitudes and stepping on slippery ice and snow, till at last through a gateway of clouds, as it seemed, to the very paths of the sun and moon, I reached the summit, completely our of breath and nearly frozen to death. Presently the sun went down and the moon rose glistening in the sky. - Basho