Thursday, September 23, 2010

Icicle Ridge, Day 1: Blood On The Trail

After a hearty breakfast at the Old Mill Cafe near Owl Farm in Plain, Kelly and I set out for Stevens Pass, the starting point for our four-day trek along the Icicle Ridge Trail. The 50-mile ridgeline trail runs east-west from sub-alpine terrain on the crest of the Cascades to the dryer, pine-inhabited lowlands of the Wenatchee Valley.

Icicle Ridge was named for the town of Icicle, now called Leavenworth. Frankly, I think they should have stuck with Icicle. It's eminently more creative, and Leavenworth is easily confused with its namesake in Kansas, a town best known for its federal penitentiary.

The route begins along the Pacific Crest Trail, heading south for a few miles, then takes off in an easterly direction from Lake Josephine (above), the headwaters of the Icicle River. Decending into the upper part of the Icicle, the trail takes a decidedly steep turn up toward Chain Lakes. A steep, brutal climb with a full pack, I progressed at the miserably slow rate of about one mile per hour.

Toward the top of the trail, and just before arriving at Chain Lakes (below), I lost my footing and took a spill, resulting in several nasty contusions on my left shin. Continuing on, I arrived at Chain Lakes, bleeding and in a considerable amount of throbbing pain.

Patching my left shin with supplies from my first aid kit stopped the bleeding. Searching for Kelly, I presumed he had continued over the pass to Doelle Lakes (pronounced "doo-lee"), our planned destination. But the hour was getting late; it was almost 7 p.m. and the sun dipped behind the ridge. I decided I could continue no further.

Mildly concerened about bears, I camped near a couple with two black Labrador retrievers -- always a deterrent for ursus americanus. Not bothering with dinner, I set up my tent, rolled out my sleeping bag and quickly drifted into slumberland.

Having had a lot of fun in the sun, I was done for Day 1.

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