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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Day 3

On the morning of Day 3, I packed up to leave the beautiful Phelps River Basin, but not before taking some more photos. I almost hated to leave after one night but I know more areas awaited my exploration.
Snow almost melted, but in another month or 2 this entire area will most likely be covered in deep snow (Hoping that the NW begins to get precipitation!)

Smoke was still lingering in the air, and usually worsened as the day went on.  I was eating and drinking on the trail as I hiked, but had no appetite at the end of the day to eat a meal the evenings of Day 3 & Day 4.  I surmised later, that it was a combination of the smoke, and not staying well hydrated for the conditions.  You could noticeably see the smoke particles in the air at night when looking around with your headlamp.  
Since I didn't cross Spyder Pass, I trekked back down the trail I came up, and then up the Chiwawa River Trail towards Red Mountain.  This trail ran north to the west of Phelps Ridge, whereas on my first 2 days I traveled up the east side.  

Phelps Ridge , west and east sides

Day 3 night was spent right off the trail, but fortunately near a stream. Streams and lakes are sources of not only drinking water, but water for cooking dehydrated or dried food.  

Sunday, September 10, 2017

River Basin Photos

Day 2: Spyder Pass/Phelps River Basin

Spyder Meadow was a great spot for my first night in the tent.  I understand that this can be a popular spot, but I had the whole meadow to myself, well almost.  Greeted when I arrived by the shrill calling of Marmots (they sound like a high pitched whistle), a buck and 3 doe deer, and an owl howling at night. My older body likes to get oiled up in the morning before putting that 30 lb pack on my back. Coffee and closing down camp always takes me at least an hour.  I know when I backpacked with my daughter Sara on the PCT she would pack up in less than 1/3 the time it takes me.  She did tell me that 4 1/2 months on the trail makes you more efficient!  Coffee, packing, and a few photos and then off to climb to Spyder Pass.  There was a bit of exposure on one narrow ledge walkway, and having a pack on my back, and not yet the strength in my legs that days backpacking brings made me a hair nervous, I just told myself not to get nervous, and look where you're walking!

Half way up!
I had plans to cross Spyder Glacier, negotiate the climb down the other side and down to Lyman Lakes, where I could pick up a marked trail. The problem is there is no marked trail going down the north side of the pass, and I was alone on this mountain walking on a soft glacier, not sure which part of the glacier to walk on, and wearing trail running shoes, with no crampons.  Going up was fine, but cutting across the glacier or down was a bit slippery. Common sense took over and I re-evaluated my plan to go down the other side, as I know the trail back was also tough and perhaps longer than my food supply would carry me. I thus went back down the glacier, back down the south side and past the exposure I was worried about. 
I was rewarded with a fantastic camping spot hiking into the Phelps River Basin. Deer and marmots were there to greet me, and other than that, the basin to myself!

Day One Eve Visitors

Trail Day One

Back to cell service and civilization. Late yesterday I was excited to walk off Trail 1550 and spot my rental car at the trailhead, realizing I was an hour drive from Leavenworth, a shower, a real meal and a bed. It's been a fun hike in the Cascades, but 5 days/4 nights in some rough and remote areas was taking it's toll and my body was welcoming a full rest day.
First of all I apologize for anyone checking my blog, as I had no cell service since departing Leavenworth on Tuesday am, even on 2 mountain tops. I was able to reassure my family and give myself a sense of security by caring a "SPOT" GPS device and sending out an "I'm OK" message everyone night at campsite.  It also has an SOS message capability which would alert the appropriate rescue organization, should you get into a situation where you couldn't walk out on your own power.  I was mostly in areas where no other hikers were near me, and as one hiker mentioned to me, "You raise the anty a bit when you hike alone."

On top of an area to gain GPS signal. 
On Tuesday, I was hoping to head into The Enchantments, but a fire had prompted partial closure, and as mentioned previously, decided to head up to the Spyder Pass area.  The drive led me northwest out of Leavenworth about one hour, of which the last 1/2 hour was on a not so well maintained dirt road.  Upon finding the trail head area for Trail 1550, there was a branch of the road that headed uphill but was rutted and sandy and required 4 wheel drive, which my rental Ford Focus Hybrid did not appear ready to attack.  The first one hour of my hike was spent just getting up that 2 mile dusty road to the trail head. The trail head, just required signing in with your name, state, destination, and days expected on the trail.  
I felt great getting off the dusty road and getting on the real "Stomp Out" trail.  It remained smoky with no clear sky, but I made good progress in about 7 miles to a beautiful Spyder Meadows campsite. I was lucky to have supper time visitors. I was later told that they're lack of shyness will not serve them well next week, as "high hunting" opens in this area on 9/15.  Good luck fellows!


Monday, September 4, 2017

Into the Smoke

Close to Seattle

                                            Fire flumes: Eastern Cascades

Photos Leavenworth

Leavenworth, WA

Snappy, Happy Heidi, Mappy, Hiker Dad