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PCT 2019: Day 62, North Fork Campsite to Tentsite at Mile 2557.6

I wanna live with a cinnamon girl

Hike with Gravity

The steady white noise of a stream flowing near our campsite lulled me to sleep last night. I awoke this morning to the sound of a chirping bird. I’m not sure what kind of bird it was, but it sounded more like a cheap alarm clock than a bird.

Ralph was heading back to Rainy Pass today and I didn’t expect to see him again for about four days. There are no places for him to park and meet me between here and Stevens Pass. I’ll be on my own until he parks his truck there and walks north to meet with me.

Date
Weather Cloudy with a high temperature in the upper 60s and a low in the mid 40s
Trail Conditions Pleasant, gradual climb; becoming increasingly steep and rugged the last five miles
Today's Miles 22.6 miles
Trip Miles 832.0 miles

Ralph tells me he’s having a good time, and doesn’t mind the extra driving and waiting he’s doing on my behalf. Still, I intend to hike more miles per day so he doesn’t have to wait longer than necessary.

As I said goodbye to Ralph and Remy, he was preparing to help her repair the blisters that gave her trouble yesterday. He is a good friend to everyone.

I left camp just before 6:30 a.m. As soon as I returned to the PCT, I crossed the bridge where I collected water yesterday evening and met the couple trying to get to Stehekin.

This was the last of the bridges that crossed Bridge Creek, though the trail followed the path of the creek for the next 2.6 miles.

For a time, the trail stayed high above the creek on a ledge. I couldn’t tell for sure, but it seemed to be cut for a logging road, as it was wider than the trail needed to be.

As was the case yesterday, there were times when the trail was badly overgrown.

I was glad that poison ivy is not common here.

When I got close to where the trail joined and followed Stehekin Valley Road for a short distance, I saw a mule deer. It just stood and watched as I walked by.

Mule deer are similar to white-tailed deer, except for a couple distinguishing features. The most obvious of these is large, mule-like ears. The other is a smaller, black tail instead of a white tail.

Just before the trail left the road I passed a side trail leading to a campsite in North Cascades National Park. As was the case for Ralph and me yesterday, a separate backcountry camping permit was required for anyone wishing to camp there.

As I walked by, I met a weekend backpacker who was leaving the campsite. He told me a park ranger fined a couple thru-hikers last night who had camped there without a permit. Another hiker managed to escape and avoid being cited.

The trail was flat through this section and wasn’t as overgrown as before. A broad view opened to show distant mountains, which still had snow on them.

I saw ahead on the trail a snowshoe hare. It seems remarkable that an animal so small can survive through the harsh winter. Nevertheless, the average lifespan of this species is only about one year.

The snowshoe hare's fur is snow-white in winter. Then as the snow melts in the spring, their coat changes color over about ten weeks, though their feet often stay white.

Another view opened as I passed Howard Lake. The sky was cloudy and remained that way all day.

Not far beyond the lake, I saw a large, cinnamon-colored animal cross the trail and go into the thick woods. My first thought was it was a bear. To be honest, though, I only caught a glimpse of its backside as it crossed about 50 yards in front of me. I only had the impression it was a bear because of the shape of its back and because its fur appeared to be shaggier than a deer.

If it were a bear, I know it wasn’t a grizzly or brown bear. They once roamed the North Cascades, but none have been sighted in this area in many years. Black bears are sometimes cinnamon in color, however, and are known to be in this area.

I decided what I saw was probably just another mule deer, but I still wanted it to be a bear. I couldn’t shake my first impression that the animal’s backside looked more rounded than a deer’s back would be.

I wished I had gotten a better view of it or had been able to snap a photo.

As I got closer to High Bridge Ranger Station, the trail made a series of descending switchbacks. I was met by two groups of horse riders, so I stepped off the trail to get out of their way.

The second group seemed to be made of people who had never been on a horse before. Their guide had to coach them as the horses went down the switchbacks.

I needed to slow my pace as I followed them to High Bridge.

I arrived at the ranger station at 10:25 a.m. A couple of picnic tables were nearby, so I stopped at one and ate my second breakfast with coffee.

While I was there, two hikers from Canada and one from Australia arrived. They were planning to catch the bus that stops here and takes hikers and tourists into Stehekin.

One of the hikers mentioned a bear was recently sighted in the area. Maybe I did see a bear after all.

Nearly all thru-hikers go to Stehekin. It is an isolated tourist area. Except for the bus that runs between the ranger station and town, it's reachable only by boat or seaplane.

A post office and a bakery are there, but the options for a real resupply are said to be limited. Most hikers send a resupply box to the post office.

I didn’t need to go there because Ralph is willing to shuttle me where I need to go. For now, I have enough food to get me to Stevens Pass.

After leaving the ranger station, the trail crossed the Stehekin River. A glacier that feeds the river made the water a beautiful ice blue.

A short distance farther, the trail crossed Agnes Creek, which fed into the river and was also flowing well with glacial water. The trail followed the creek up the ridge of a mountain, but would not cross it again until 4.4 miles farther.

From the bridge, the trail began a slow and steady climb and entered Glacier Peak Wilderness Area. The wilderness area covers 566,057 acres and the PCT will remain in its boundaries for the next 60 miles.

The last time a grizzly was seen in the North Cascades, it was located in this wilderness area.

I stopped for lunch and filtered water where a log bridge crossed Swamp Creek, which fed into Agnes Creek.

While I was here, I talked to a hiker from Colorado named Josh. He hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2008.

Right after Josh left, I thought another hiker was passing by until I realized it was a mule deer. It didn’t appreciate me being so close to the water and circled the area for several minutes before finding a spot to get a drink.

About an hour later I met a trail crew that was just finishing their work and heading back to camp. One of the crew members asked me if I had seen the waterfall.

“No,” I replied. “What waterfall? I heard the water from the creek, but I didn’t know there was a waterfall nearby.'

He told me if I backtracked just a few yards I would find a short spur from the trail, which would lead to a ledge overlooking the waterfall. If he hadn’t been there to tell me this, I would have missed seeing it.

The trail made a meandering, gradual climb beyond where the crew had been working. It also became more overgrown, but I am sure the crew was planning to clean up that section.

Late in the afternoon, the trail began to climb more steeply and entered a large burn area. There were a number of downed trees across the trail, and one in particular, was difficult to climb over.

In the middle of the burn area was a wide stream called Glacier Creek. According to the Guthooks trail guide, a bridge used to cross the creek here, but not long ago it was washed away.

There was no way to rock-hop across the creek, so I had no choice but to wade across. The water came up above my knee and was very cold.

On the other side of the creek, the trail continued to climb through the burn area, but now more steeply and with more blowdowns.

I stopped to collect water at a stream pouring over the trail. Then I continued a short distance beyond that to a campsite and arrived shortly after 7:30 p.m.

Ricky Bobby and Boogeyman were camped there. Another hiker I had not yet met was also there. Her name was Six Pound, a trail name she acquired because of the large and heavy tent she was carrying.

The mosquitoes were bad tonight, so we didn’t remain outside for long to socialize.

I wanna live
With a cinnamon girl
I could be happy
The rest of my life
With a cinnamon girl

A dreamer of pictures
I run in the night
You see us together
Chasing the moonlight
My cinnamon girl

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