Heading South, Canadian Border Manning Park
After a hearty breakfast at Manning Park we left at 9.30am on June 16th– our second leg of the walk was about to begin.
As we walked, we revelled in the greenery – hanging moss on the dense conifers and a carpet of green tangled undergrowth around us. For the first time now the path was muddy, presenting a delightful springy surface for our hardened feet. By mid-morning we came across a small clearing in the trees – in fact a linear strip about 10m wide and stretching to the horizon east and west – it was Monument 78, the Canadian/US border (see banner at the top of the screen). After some photos we strode off and climbed gently with occasional views out of the trees to the hills and puffy clouds in a deep blue sky.
Our surroundings changed quickly as we climbed towards the trail’s high point at 7,000 feet. Snow clad mountains appeared with jaggy rock spires punching through to the sky. A wide panorama of endless snowy peaks to the south and west, the Washington cascades were around us. On a snow covered summit ridge we took in this massive scene. It felt as if this was the country I had always hoped to travel in, this was where I belonged. There was much snow around but it was patchy enabling us at least to see the direction of the path. We camped beside the trail at a tremendous rocky notch between two steep mountains in the late evening well satisfied with our 20 mile progress.
As we packed up our tent in the morning – a huge surprise- Brian Sweet and another hiker, Mousetrap, appeared ambling down the trail. Brian had continued 80 miles further north than we had into the Sierra Nevada mountains of California with his skis. He made it to Trail Pass then descended to the town of Lone Pine and decided that it was too difficult. From there he had made it to Canada by bus. Mousetrap is from the state of Maine and his name was earned on the Appalachian Trail for carrying a mousetrap to rid the shelters of mice! The four of us headed on south together exchanging tales of of our travels and chatting away.
The trail kept high to the mountain slopes providing good views and we saw our first marmots and quite a few deer in the forest. We made our next camp at Harts Pass where there is a campsite but it had still not opened yet as its deep in snow – oh well , plenty of room for us!
Beards on the Trail There was a definite fashion amongst long distance hikers to grow a beard on their journey. It seemed like a sort of connection and one-ness with the woods and the backcountry. Or perhaps it was just easier not to shave when out on a long hike! Some hikers like Brian Sweet started out fresh of face and just grew a beard as they went. Tim, however looked like his a had been growing for a few years… Brian never got into the habit and carried a plastic disposable razor or two with him to shave every second day or so- maybe he just didn’t want to face the effort of shaving off a weeks growth! Martina (feeling left out) got caught up with the excitement a bit and grabbed some tree lichen to create a stylish substitute beard!
Next day, there was much snow around in large patches but the trail could usually be spotted in between. However we did lose the trail completely in a long climb up to Mattow Pass, but it didn’t stop us making a good 23 miles that 3rd day and we were definitely going well despites some aches and pains for both of us. We hit our first main road south of the border at the well named Rainy Pass after 70 miles and sheltered in the toilet booth for a rest!
Our route now followed Bridge Creek for 10 miles- strolling on through Douglas Fir and scrub beside the roaring river. We saw a black bear here and it looked at us in a puzzled way and just stared about 50 meters off the path as we walked by. We finally emerged at our first resupply stop of Stehekin after 90 miles feeling quite pleased with ourselves that we were going fairly strongly…….