From Grizzly Peak to Indian Creek Trailhead
The inside of our tarp is sopping wet, I mean, possibly wetter inside than outside. I peek outside – nope. Everything is sopping wet. I turn over and go back to sleep.
When I wake back up, a brilliant ray of sun is shining in. The sky is completely blue. The inside of the tarp is still sopping wet, everything else is damp at best, it’s cold, I still don’t want to get up… I’m still tired from my bad night’s sleep at the Dinsmores and this will be our sixth day of hiking straight. But I know when I get up things will be ok.
My fingers are so cold I want to scream, packing up our wet gear. Wet shoes. Wet socks. Can’t feel my toes. The sun, though, is starting to penetrate my own internal fog. Waking up is the worst part of waking up, but we’re on top of the mountain now. Glacier Peak’s icy cap beckons to us across the green ranges, and an inversion has left blankets of white fog lying far beneath us in the valleys. Switch and Biscuit are camped just over the rise and we shout our good mornings. It was so foggy last night they had had no idea we were here.
We walk out into the meadows and the sun, feeling the huge weight of all the gray days finally lifting. Heart lifting. Damn! It’s so easy to get caught up in the everyday grind of this, but then I start walking and everything changes. The morning happies – the world is big and beautiful, and I’m in the mountains. Once we’ve dropped down from the peak, we stop for water at a tiny stream in a meadow. “Now this! This is the view I’ve been looking for!” I gesture out around me, at the meadow, trees, the huge blue sky.
“No clouds,” J assents, “a truly beautiful sight.”
A signpost on the trail serves to hold up our gravity filter and to help dry our socks. We boil water for coffee and tea. It’s nice to be able to stop and not be miserable.
Later, we stop again at a grassy campsite next to another stream, and I set up the filter while J attempts to fold our very stale hiker-box tortillas around our tuna. I pull out the tarp and my sleeping bag and let everything dry in the sun, lean back against a log with the sun pressing against my eyelids. J falls asleep. Seahawk and Bumblebee walk up and join us. Bee’s twisted her ankle, although it seems alright. The wet, muddy trail has been treacherous for days, and I’m surprised we haven’t all twisted our ankles. Biscuit joins us too, and despite having planned on getting up and hiking, we stay sitting in the sun with our friends instead.
The warm patches of sun are tempting enough, but the miles of ruddy blueberry patches don’t help our pace. We hike till we can’t stand it, then declare “power blueberry stop!” A quick minute of stuffing our faces and then onwards, maybe fifty feet or so, until our will breaks again. Glacier Peak bobs in and out of view as we cross valleys and ridges. The morning happies usually wear off, but today my emotions have stayed on a steady rise. I’m tired, sure, but not MORE tired. The hiking is hard, but I feel like I have a deep well inside of me – the opposite of how I used to feel, now that I think about it. The most interesting thing about today is that today the trail is exactly how I imagined it.
Before I left, I imagined that I would get strong and tough, and that I would get to this place where I would be cruising mountain passes, surrounded by fabulous beauty at all times. J made fun of me for this – thru-hiking is, most of the time, a lot of work. A LOT of work. Your feet hurt, your legs hurt, your motivation hurts, and the most beautiful parts of the trail are the same parts that might break you. Except today. It’s exactly like I imagined. I feel like the grinch at Christmas dinner, where his heart explodes ten sizes, full of happiness, almost too big for his chest.
It’s getting dark and we’re full of blueberries but short on miles. Past pretty little Lake Sally Ann. Quickly now, we’re losing light. We slip and slide down the muddy chute of the trail, J on his backside. The red hillside glows in the last of the evening. We’d camp anywhere – I’m not picky – but I draw the line at 12% grades. At the Indian Creek trailhead we finally find a campsite. Nineteen miles of the north Cascades will do for today. Biscuit comes in behind us just after dark, and we get a little company for the night. Here’s to hoping for a sunny day tomorrow.