July 13th, 2018
Swamp Creek mm 2564 to mm 2543
Distance: 21 miles
There were lots of interesting wildlife encounters today, plus a few really exciting events that involved things flying overhead.
First, I nearly stumbled into a deer when I got out of my tent. I had to go to the bathroom and she followed me. As soon as I was done, she went to the spot and started licking. Gross. I guess they like the salt in our pee.
I was on the trail by 7 am and it was a steady climb for 12 miles. I was listening to some music and heard a roar growing louder. I looked up just in time to see a fighter jet roar over my head only a few hundred feet above, then seconds later, another one. I had heard that they train in the mountains here but how awesome it was to see them so close and unexpected. I wondered how exhilarating it must be to be the pilot. And there I was making my way to Mexico at 3 miles an hour.
The trail was very overgrown in sections…a tunnel of green. There were many beautiful wildflowers at least, including what looked like red and yellow columbines.
I had to actually ford sizeable S Fork Agnes Creek a few miles in. All the other water crossings have had logs or bridges. I put my camp shoes on to keep my shoes dry and it was no sweat. My NZ experience prepared well.
I came to a bowl where there was some snow and big rocks that had come off the face of the mountain. The creek there was full of frogs, which I found interesting. Those are some hearty frogs! I also saw a skink of some sort. The place was filled with pika and marmots, too.
The surrounding mountains were stunning, with glaciers, pinnacles, and huge rock faces. They give the Rockies a run for their money.
On the gradual and wooded descent from Suiattle Pass, I could see the magnificent Glacier Peak, at over 10,500′ high. The trail skirts around the west side of this prominent mountain, up next for the following 2 days. For today, I just had to put in my 20 miles.
I was enjoying the soft and well-kept trail through the trees when I saw a shadow overhead. Some sort of falcon was above and clacking at me. I figured it must have a nest nearby and was clearly being defensive. As a precaution, I raised my trekking poles above my head. Sure enough, it dive-bombed me…4 times! I’ve been bombed by many birds but never a bird of prey, not to mention the fastest bird on earth…it was a bit scary. I got out of there fast.
I hoped for no more close fly-overs for the day. I did finally see people, though. One lone hiker and a couple, all hiking north. Then well after I had set up camp, Taylor, Jose, Julia, Zeek, and Lucas all rolled through. They were doing a 26 mile day to camp near the river. I’m sure I will catch up tomorrow, as they are only 2 miles away. For the first night, I was camping alone. It was very quiet and a bit lonely but at least I could get some blogging done.