Glacier Peak Wilderness to Stevens Pass – Day 3

Unlike the beautiful and easy hike of yesterday, today was challenging and slow. This trail has not seen maintenance in many years and it shows. When no one is here to do the work, the brush gets overgrown and hikers start to make new trails where the old trails have begun eroding down the mountainside. We managed 18 miles in 12 hours, well below our normal 2mph average.

Zombie Flies

Mosquitoes have not been a problem for a while, the new problem is these large black fly, horsefly-looking things. Henceforth, I shall call them Zombie Flies. Why Zombie Flies? A few reasons. Their sole purpose in life is to bite me and turn me into some kind of human-horsefly zombie. The animal is so robust a creature that when you slap the thing, it doesn’t die. The only thing that will truly slay one of the beasts is a double tap to the head with my heel. I have been growing hungrier and hungrier since first bitten… more details to follow.

Kings and Queens of the Mountains

For some reason, I always imagined these lands to be ruled by bears and big cats. The truth of the matter is far more startling. The animal we have encountered the most, by far, has been the marmot. These brown and white striped rock rodents would get along well with our dog, Athena, as all they want to do is lay around in the sun all day. Sometimes, just sometimes, they will produce a loud bear-whistle-like noise when they see us. This happens maybe 10% of the time?

Seeing a lot of marmots does not necessarily mean they rule the land, it’s their lackadaisical behavior that makes me feel this way. If they are laying on the trail and we are looking to pass, they do not run or scurry away, they may not acknowledge our existence at all. An animal with that level of arrogance tells me they don’t have much to worry about, they are the kings and queens of this mountain range.

If the marmot and grouse populations are an indicator of how well big cats are doing, I’d wager they are doing well. Unless the big cats are not here at all, which is why these populations are thriving?

Trail tribulations aside, the hike around Glacier Peak has been absolutely gorgeous. Still melting snow has the rivers raging and random waterfalls spouting down from afar. There certainly is no lack of water on the trail at this time of year during a late snowmelt. Drinking cold mountain fresh water is good for my soul.

Tonight’s campsite is remote and quite possibly the most beautiful we have ever had. Our tent sits in a bowl between mountains on an established patch of dirt just a few feet from the trail. Sunset was amazing and I expect the sunrise will be just as wild.