Saturday, August 18, 2012

Buck Creek Trail: Day 4

A cloud enveloped the pass on the morning of Wednesday, August 8, creating a dense pea-soup fog around our camp. “This is more like the Buck Creek Pass I remember,” I noted wryly to the troops. But the sun would not be denied, and it wasn’t long before the solar orb would breach the thick mist (above).

The night before, we had encountered a Forest Service crew conducting grizzly bear studies. “Griz” had been sighted and photographed in North Cascades National Park, and USFS wildlife biologists were testing for sign in the Glacier Peak Wilderness.

That morning, one group was sent down the Triad Creek Trail into one of the most remote corners of the Glacier Peak Wilderness. If I were a grizzly bear seeking a remote haven safe from humans, the Upper Suiattle River area would be the spot.

While showing the wildlife team to the obscure trail junction down Triad Creek, we asked: “just how does one test for grizzly bear?” They explained that they set a perimeter trap of barbed-wired fence with fish emulsions and cow’s blood for bait. Ostensibly, the bear has no problem securing the bait but leaves clumps of fur behind in the barbed-wire, which can then be DNA-tested for confirmation.

Packing up camp, the troops were excited to be heading to the barn, but the long ten-miler waited. Undeterred by that prospect, the hike down to the trailhead was pleasant, with cool temperatures, few bugs and great views while we moseyed along Buck Creek (above).

Much like the mules and horses we would periodically lead into the wilderness, we could "smell the barn" as we drew nearer to the trailhead at Trinity. As a result, the pace picked up a step or two, for we all knew that cold beer, a hot sauna and a refreshing shower awaited us at Owl Farm.

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