Sunday, September 5, 2010

Easy Pass to Colonial Creek

Jahson and I ran from Easy Pass to Colonial Creek in the North Cascades on Saturday. This is approximately 25 miles, maybe more, maybe less, with a steady climb for the first three miles, and then a gradual descent over the rest of the run. I did this in the deep fall last year with Linda and Dan—a different run, as on Saturday you could see that the colors are only just starting to change now.

The run should’ve been easy, but I sort of struggled. I think I had too much food in the stomach, maybe the wrong fit of shoes, and I definitely noticed my quads/hamstrings aren’t all there yet. It wasn’t that bad—I just want to get better.

The trail is spectacular. WTA says "it's easily one of the prettiest hikes in the North Cascades." My pics here.

The Fischer Valley, which is reached after crossing Easy Pass, is remote, wild, and stunning. The valley forms from the headwaters of Fischer Creek, by Fischer Mountain. Glaciers hang in the distance. The brush along the trail is high; the valley walls jagged. I believe the last grizzly seen in the park was reported here. The empty meadows, like in the picture above, suggest to me a wilderness travelers might’ve come upon in the 1800s, when first coming west.

Though late in the year, we still managed to find plenty of huckleberries and thimbleberries. I did not see as many multi-colored mushrooms as on the last trip. The air is still in the Fischer Valley—you just want to slow down and look around. And so we did, for quite some time.

Finally, after an hour or so, we moved on--Jahson usually leading and me still dithering. At Junction Camp, about midway in, the trail turns down into the Thunder Creek valley. Big cedars become the norm, with white and aqua-blue creeks, like the MacCallister. The trail is soft, the footing easy. At some point, about 8 miles out, I decided to try running for an extended period. I was able to finish up at a somewhat steady clip, which is encouraging.

Teaser and the Firecat by Cat Stevens on the way home.

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