Sunday, September 6, 2009

PCT, Day 4: Smelling The Barn

Thinking I had already witnessed the ultimate "melodies in nature" experience at Cathedral Creek, I was treated to yet another "symphony" on the morning of Monday, August 31 at our camp in Waptus Pass (above).

As I lay waking up pre-dawn, a variety of birds broke into song -- each chirping their own tune in concert with the other, with percussion provided by a woodpecker -- a wondrous melody. By the time the sun had lit the pass, the concert was over.

As we packed camp, we bade farwell to "Shootout," another PCT hiker who shared our campsite in Waptus Pass. Most long-range hikers on the PCT adopt pseudonyms during their trek; some of the more creative examples included "Banshee," "Salty," "Two Shoes," "Blister Butt," "Flicker," "Muleskinner," "Ice Cap," "Freebee," "Moondog" and "Mr. Zip." Kelly, Lupe and I had adopted ""Midweek," "Eight" and "Laslo," respectively, as our PCT pseudonyms.

So far, we had seen small critters like squirrels, pica and marmot, along with many types of birds. However, the only large mammal we encountered was this wilderness troll with an affinity for rock 'n' roll (left) along the Pete (Townshend) Lake Trail.

Despite the smokey air from the Lemah Fire in Waptus Pass, I could nonetheless "smell the barn," that unmistakeable sense of anticipation that I would soon be back at Owl Farm.

Heading down toward Pete Lake from Waptus Pass, I felt renewed vigor, anxious to emerge from the wilderness, but delighting in it nonetheless. We paused to examine the fungi patterns on an old Douglas fir stump (right and below).

Now on a flat trail, my pace quickened. Knowing Roger, he would be arriving earlier than the predetermined 2 p.m. We arrived at the Pete Lake Trailhead at Cooper Lake at 1 p.m.

Roger wheeled in at 1:15 p.m. and asked: "need a ride?" "Boy, are you a sight for sore feet," I replied.

Fetching Kelly, Lupe and Teo from Cooper Lake, we packed our gear into Roger's vehicle for the ride along the "alternate PCT," a pair of Forest Service roads leading to the Mineral Creek Trailhead in the upper Cle Elum River drainage. There, we temporarily said our goodbyes.

For me, it was time to "head for the barn" at Owl Farm.

1 comment:

Stephen said...


Just read your delightful of the PCT hike. I'm both envious and inspired. Kathy and I just returned from a month of FS volunteering in Hells Canyon, which was also inspiring but a whole lot more leisurely. I don't know if you're reading this far back in the blog, but it was a fine read.

Best wishes

Steve Ponder