"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Resurrection Pass Journals, Chapter Eight

Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed.
-   Walt Whitman

 Day Three
Part One

Morning arrived on the beams of sunshine on day three of my hike to Resurrection Pass.  The dark storm clouds of the previous evening had disappeared, leaving not a trace.

I lay in my sleeping bag in that sweet grove of mountain hemlock and savored the moment.  This was to be as much of a day off for my feet as it could be.  I had only two miles to go to my intended camp site for the day, so I dawdled about getting up, dressing, and saddling up this old hoss.

I dressed outside the tent for a change as the bugs were almost non-existent.  Or perhaps I smelled so bad by then, the insects didn’t want to get near me with a ten foot proboscis.

I thought about the hike the day before, about not finding the tent sites that were supposed to be a mile and a half (DOWNHILL) from here.  They must be on the Swan Lake trail, I decided, but why were they marked with the mileage of the Resurrection Trail and not something like “0.3 Swan Lake Trail.”  I would find out when I got back home.

I’d passed the point of no return during that last mile and a half.  It was now a shorter distance to continue on than to turn back, even though the trail would seem shorter if I went back the way I’d come.  I never would have turned back anyway.

By camping at mile 15.6 today, I would have two days of slightly more than five miles a day to complete the trip.  Perfect.

I packed up and headed for the bear box to retrieve my food supply.  It was such a beautiful morning, I sat on the bear box and ate the smashed peanut butter sandwich that I’d tucked away under my sleeping bag the evening before because I was too tired to get up and put it in the bear box.

Then I saddled up and started walking. 

Bear boxes are good for more than one thing.

You'll notice my walking stick isn't in these pictures.  That's because it's stuck in the ground with my camera screwed onto the top and the timer set on the camera.

The vegetation turned from tall grass and brush to wildflowers, wildflowers never seen before in such abundance.   Acres of wildflowers everywhere I looked.

On and on I walked through red and blues and whites and yellows.  Beaver dams came into sight.  I met a couple guys and we stopped to chat.  Eventually I asked about bear sightings and one guy said, “You’ve got your bear bell.  You’ll be okay.”

“You mean my dinner bell?” I responded.  He hadn’t heard that old joke before and appreciated it.

Looking back at Juneau Lake.

More beaver dams, and still more.  The day got hotter.   I was running out of treated water again.  Eventually I came to my intended camp site at 1 p.m.

The trail leading to the bear box and the tent sites was –unbelievably—uphill.  Diabolical, I thought.

I looked for a shady spot to pitch my tent, but couldn’t find one.  It was fully in the open or rocks and steep hills.  There were a few bugs, and a couple nasty horse flies, but not too bad.  I took off my perspiration-soaked clothes and draped them on hemlock branches to dry in the hot sun.

An unwelcome visitor--a horse fly.

Then I got in my tent and enjoyed the rest.  For about five minutes.  There was only the slightest breeze.  The sun beat down on the tent and raised the internal temperature by the minute.  I lasted an hour before I climbed out that sauna and put on my now dry clothes and hit the trail.  It was 3 p.m.

Click to enlarge to full screen.  The Devil's cabin is visible.  Devil's Creek trail goes down the valley to the right.

Maybe I’ll find a nice spot to camp where the Devil’s Creek trail intersects the Resurrection Pass trail, I thought.  I got hotter and hotter.  By now I was wearing a wide-brimmed sun hat.

I stopped every hundred feet or so and drank water and lemonade, until I was almost out of liquids.  I reached a small wooden bridge over a creek and stopped.  A gust of wind blew my sun hat into the creek.
Flies browsing on a cow parsnip blossom.

I fished it out with my hiking stick and relished the cool water dripping off of it.  The half mile to the Devil’s Creek cabin seemed as long as the two miles to the tent site I’d abandoned.  By the time I reached the turn off to the cabin, I was in danger of dehydration.  I had to get out of the sun or I’d be in trouble.

I talked with some bicyclers who were resting at the trail cut off, then took the trail to the cabin.  Ignoring Forest Service that requested privacy for the cabin permit holders, I reached the cabin and knocked on the bottom step.  A teen-age girl answered the knock.

“I apologize for disturbing you, but I’m overweight, overloaded, and dehydrated,” I said. "Do you mind if I rest here for a bit?"

 “Come on in.  It’s cool in here,” she said.   I asked her dad about the water source for the cabin and he gave me a quart of water he’d just filtered from a nearby creek.  I drank half of it.

A welcome sight--the Devils' Creek cabin and outhouse.
A hour later, cooled off and ready to trudge on, I hoisted my pack and started walking towards Devils’ Creek trail.

The next bear box was almost five miles away down Devil’s Trail, so I was looking for a nice flat area with a water source to camp for the night.

So much for plans, I thought.  So much for a day off.  The whole thing reminded me of Robbie Burns:  “The best laid plans o’ mice and men, gang aft aglay.”


  1. I admire you in so many ways. Once you put your mind to a challenge, you give it your all. If only the world were populated by more people like you.

    I'm so glad you found water before things got ugly.

  2. Okay. You've shamed me into it. Buck and I are heading out for a mountain hike this morning. It's only a 2-peanut butter sandwich hike (about 10 miles), so I won't amass any bragging rights, but better than sitting on the porch all day! Great story -- so glad you found that cabin and some nice folks with filtered water.