Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Willis Camp, Snowy Lakes, and Up and Over Cutthroat (Days 3, 4, and 5)

Even as beautiful as my camp site was, I had a rough night. Being completely alone is always a little difficult for me. I get jumpy. I might have been solo on my five day trip in the Olympics this year, but there were still others camping at each spot I stayed. (every camp has a name and is marked and has a privy; which spoiled me a bit, I suppose) As I made my way down to my spot for the night (a much more undefined trail than what I had been traveling on all day) a big branch brushed the side of my backpack. I about came out of my skin! It took me awhile to settle down and try to just breathe it all in. I did okay; but not great.
Looking down on the Grasshopper Pass site 
That night was super windy. I don't know if my tent was sort of collapsing on me at one point, but I had a dream a bear was laying on top of me! The weird thing is, I wasn't all that scared in the dream. I was just like, "Get off me bear!", and I scared him away. It took me a moment to grasp that I was dreaming. When my brain was finally turning on, I started to realize that it hadn't really happened. It's funny how you talk to yourself when you're half asleep..."wow, that was really freaky when that bear laid down on you" (answering self) "ummm, what do you think the likelihood of a bear laying on you and not crushing you is?"(replying back) "wait, you mean that was a dream?" (insulting self) "of course it was a dream you idiot! sheesh, get a grip!" So yeah, I didn't sleep all that well.

The next day I passed a whole bunch more thru hikers. (I assume they were anyway, because I stopped asking. If they were bushy and stinky, that said it all) One of them asked me a very nervous question though, "Have you seen any bears?" I was tempted to say I chased one away after he laid on my tent, but instead just answered no. I found out later that a mother bear and her cub had been spotted the day prior and word spread fast, which is why everyone was a little on edge. I made a LOT of noise hiking down into the forest from Glacier Pass that afternoon.
I stayed at the furthest camp I could make it to that night--"Willis Camp". (finally, a camp with a name and a sign; those things comfort me for whatever reason) I knew it was stupid of me to feel safer because I wasn't in the place the bear was seen. (I was told by a couple, and then the guy who actually saw them; they were at the camp two miles before Willis) I mean, what's a couple miles mean to a bear? But, it's all about the mind games we play, right? Thankfully, I was so tired that I pretty much crashed, and had no dreams of being a bear's bean bag.

Willis Camp. The trail is right there.

The next day I had a big dilemma. I had only 6ish miles to Snowy Lakes, which everyone says is a "must". But camping there would end my day at like 1:30 in the afternoon; way to early to stop, in my opinion. Plus it would leave me 10ish miles the next day to get to Rainy Pass to meet my husband, and then I'd still have another 2 miles to that night's camping spot at Ann Lake. But not camping at Snowy Lakes meant I'd need to push on another 6ish miles for that day; miles that included going over both Granite and Cutthroat Pass, after I just got my butt over Methow Pass. (with NO possibility of calling it a day early. Much of this section's trail is dynamited into the cliff, and it is sketchy!) What to do, what to do. When I got to where I knew the side trail to Snowy Lakes should be (just past Methow Pass) I couldn't find it. I was just about to bag the whole idea and keep going (it's just another lake, after all) when I spotted two guys heading up. I took it as a sign, and rooted around for the trail until I found it. (It looks like a dry stream at the beginning, which is why I didn't recognize it as a trail; but it becomes obvious very quickly)

Arriving at the first lake, I dumped my pack and declared to myself, "You have chosen wisely!" I mean, wow. The people coming down had told me to push on and camp at the upper lake--but like I said, my pack was off. (it's only a half mile to get to the lakes, but it's a steep half mile!) I didn't care how awesome upper lake was; this was awesome enough.

My site even had it's own table!
After getting all settled, I decided I better go check out the upper lake (not all that much further) though I was a little nervous that I was going to wish I had pushed on. I found it certainly beautiful as well, but after seeing it, I decided I was perfectly content with my lower lake home. 
Upper Snowy Lake

Heading back "home" from the upper lake
A very golden Golden Horn
The next morning I didn't even make breakfast. It was so flippin' cold; and besides, I had such a long day ahead that I knew I needed to just get going. After four and a half hours of pretty much continual hiking, I finally got to the place I was considering pushing on to the day before. THANK GOD for Snowy Lakes! I would have been putting my tent up in the dark and been totally stressed out had I gone for it. (Directions say the camp is only a mile past Cutthroat Pass if your going South. It felt like three! Plus, it's pretty ugly; especially after where I had just been)
Brrrr...I was wearing every item I brought!

Looking back from Granite Pass;
see the trail in the side of the mountain?
I made it to Rainy Pass at exactly the time I told my husband I was shooting for. I understood, though, that he could make no guarantees for when he could make it. The comedy of errors resulting in us not seeing each other for another two hours will be in my next post, when I wrap this thing up.

Last day: http://kellbell-whywouldanyonereadthis.blogspot.com/2014/10/day-6-they-dont-call-it-rainy-pass-for.html

1 comment:

  1. Wow ... You totally ROCK, Girl! What an awesome adventure. Beautiful pics!