Summer in the North Cascades. Home again in the Glacier Peak Wilderness.
I arrive for another season of trail work up Lake Chelan in May to be greeted by snow. (It is now August and there is still snow chilling out in the high country.) Welcome Home.
The journey to where I work begins with a boat ride 45 miles up the lake to a place called Lucerne, then I jump into the trails truck (which I have nicknamed the Antichrist- an inspiration from the movie The Gods Must
Be Crazy) and drive 12 miles up the Railroad Creek Valley to the old mining town called Holden Village.
This is my base camp, 1/4 mile outside of the village in an old one room Forest Service cabin. Home sweet home. A view of Copper Peak, Dumbell and Bonanza from my front porch. Three of us share the cabin this summer, myself and two volunteer wilderness rangers. We have tents in the woods outside the cabin, and use the cabin for cooking and social time. Our cabin has electricity, and a month ago we got running water inside! Luxurious living in the woods.
And work begins: hiking up trails to check on the snow level, training volunteers on cross cut saw use and general trail
maintenance, getting my dad to volunteer on a log out mission, pack trips with llamas, quiet nights by campfires, playing Farkel, cooking pizza over a fire, running next door to Holden Village to hang out with staff, eat toast, enjoy popcorn and a movie, learn how to throw a bowl on a potter’s wheel.
My favorite moments are at the end of a long day of work, every one is tired, dinner is finally cooked. And then there are a few minutes of absolute silence as we focus in on food and happily fill our stomachs.
I have also set up a highline just outside the cabin with my silk dangling in the middle. It is a good space to practice, although often when the sun is out, so is the wind. I have begun some wilderness silk dancing, even if it is only for practicing, or sitting in it cocooned to read a book.
Life is pretty sweet in the mountains. And suddenly it’s
mid August. Time flies by.
The most recent adventure was a llama pack trip to get one of the wilderness rangers to her base camp at Lyman Lake. August 1st and the snow is mostly gone (at least it is melted off of the trail). I led the
pack string down the trail and had a long conversation with a llama named Konchay.
He would occasionally headbutt me if he thought I was walking too slow, and then decide to suddenly stop, the lead would fall out of my hand, and I would turn around to see him glarin
g at me as if he was saying ‘didn’t you know it was time to stop?’ We made it down the hill without incidence, 8 llamas and 3 llameros. As opposed to another time with llamas in June when I ended up helping to
carry a llama out of the wilderness.
For that story,
check out this blog by one of the llama packers.
Sometimes I have the savory job of packing other people’s trash out of the wilderness. Never happy after that. Last week we found a cache of trash near Hilegard pass and hiked out approximately 35 pounds of garbage. Included in that mess were a few tarps that we gave to the Holden Hike Haus. I wish more people understood that campfire rings are not personal trash cans.
Just as I introduce you to the Antichrist. I must report that it is dead. Luckily I was not driving the truck when it died, but a month later, I was told my replacement truck would be arriving by barge, and would I please drive my
old truck down to pick up the new truck? Driving a mostly dead truck down 12 miles of an old mining road with some sketchy switchbacks was not in my original job description. Oh well. Away I went down the mountain and the Antichrist made it’s last run out of Holden Village. My new truck has yet to earn a name, but so far it is a very reasonable rig.
That’s the newest update from the Glacier Peak Wilderness.
For more wilderness trail stories. Here is my blog from my first two summers working in the Chelan Ranger District.