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Ryan’s Great Adventures

Volume 79: Friday August 10, 2007

Once again, our hero takes off into the backcountry to battle trees, erosion, and single-handedly reroute the Pacific Crest Trail.

August 11

Pete Lake, against a backdrop of granite, snow-covered mountains
We passed Pete Lake on our way to basecamp.

Once again, I decided to head out for a week of trail work with the WTA, also known as the Washington Trails Association. This time, I would head out into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, an area about 80 miles east of Seattle, just over on the far side of the Cascade Mountains.

We were scheduled to meet at the trailhead at 9:00 in the morning, but I decided to drive out the night before for two reasons. First, I hate waking up with an alarm clock in my ear. What a terrible way to start a day. Second, construction crews were due to close down the onramp from the West Seattle Bridge onto I-5 northbound, and close down the offramp from I-5 northbound onto I-90 eastbound at 10:00pm the night before. I'm sure I could muddle my way around the streets of downtown Seattle until I found a way of getting across Lake Washington, but it would be easier to use these major arteries that I knew so well, and they would only be available until 10:00 on Friday night.

I left West Seattle at about 9:40, and detour signs for the road closures were already in place. I hoped the construction workers didn't actually close the ramps early—the signs did say the ramps were already closed!—but fortunately they weren't and I drove through with about ten minutes to spare before the closure was to begin. Excellent!

I'd like to say the rest of the drive was pretty dull, but two crazy semi trucks nearly ran me off the road about 30 miles outside of Seattle. You'd think that late at night they'd have plenty of room to drive around, but those maniacs must have been driving 80+ mph, serving back and forth between the other cars on the road.

I set up my tent along the edge of Lemah Meadow. What a wonderful view to wake up to!

Our ice chests are in the water to help keep our perisables cold all week!

I survived and drove through the dinky town of Roslyn—you might recognize it from Northern Exposure. It's not a large town, but I was rather impressed with the nightlife. Pedestrians were walking around everywhere.

The trailhead was something of a surprise as well because it was positively packed with cars. Several dozen of them, and I had to make a second loop around the parking lot to find an empty place to park. Then I pulled out my sleeping bag and hit the sack.

By around 7:00, I woke up from the multiple vehicles coming and going, and finally got myself up and out of the car an hour later. A few WTA workers were already there, starting to collect, and I introduced myself.

Janice, the leader of this particular expedition, handed out some photocopied maps with directions to camp, a six or seven mile hike from the trailhead. The hike wasn't strenuous, with perhaps a total of 500 feet in elevation gain, but the hike in was lengthy. The camp gear and food was already up there, packed in by mules the day before. We just had to get ourselves and our own gear to camp, hiking at our own pace.

I demonstrate how the new latrine works, sitting on the duct tape covered slats where we could leave our 'deposits' for the week.

The hike mostly stayed in the trees—nice, but not spectacular, until it reached Pete Lake, nestled at the bottom of towering rocks and glaciers. Most of us stopped here for lunch and pictures before continuing on to camp at Lemah Meadows.

The first thing I did was scout out a location for my tent. The edge of the meadow had plenty of room, and I found a nice little pocket area to set up my tent. Everyone set up their tents near the edge of the meadow because the middle of the meadow was filled with lots of standing water. Not very fun to camp in. I don't like to brag, but I think I got the best place of all since my tent was shaded in the afternoon while everyone else's roasted in the sun. =) And yet, I still had a magnificent view of the meadow every time I looked out the door of my tent.

Later, after everyone arrived at camp, we started doing chores. I headed out to dig a latrine—I had some experience in this matter a couple of weeks before, after all. Janice suggested a location under a beautiful, enormous tree. Other large trees had fallen nearby, and we decided to excavate between two fallen trees so there would be a lot of room for deposits without a lot of digging. We even found a couple of planks, plastered them with duct tape, and used them as a toilet seat. The duct tape was so we didn't get splinters while doing our thing.

And that was about the extent of our activities for the day—getting into camp and setting up.

August 12

I cut out a small log and am cutting off its branches here to turn this into a waterbar. You can see the ditch it will go into behind me.

It started to sprinkle that night, which was a significant disappointment since there was supposed to be a meteor shower. Alas, we saw no shooting stars. Not this night, at least.

By morning, the sky was still overcast, but the rain had stopped. We ate breakfast—pancakes with blueberries picked from the grove of blueberries growing all around camp. I got a hardhat, my official hardhat that had my name and everything. I was supposed to receive it at Mount Adams, but it had gone astray and ended up with the wrong work party elsewhere on Mount Adams.

We went through the safety talk about how to carry and use the various tools, then we each picked up a couple of tools and headed out north along the Pacific Crest Trail.

The work, admittedly, is not very interesting to talk about. Don explained the intricacies of creating a waterbar, and I cut out a small piece from a log to create it with. It's a nice waterbar that should last for years, but you'd likely walk right past it without even noticing.

The rest of the day, we brushed the trail—a term meaning that we cut back plants and trees that were overgrowing the trail using loppers or yanking out saplings by the roots with our hands. We widened the trail itself as well and dug out drain dips.

This was the view we had while working on the trail at one particular clearing. I spent most of the day working here!

It's exhausting work, and not very fun, but it had to be done. The trail in the woods wasn't too bad at all, but in clearings or even the slightest break in the trees, the vegetation grew thick and needed to be cut back. I used a small saw for a couple of hours cutting down a cluster of vine maples and alders hanging over the trail, particularly the uphill side of the trail since the snow would push the trees on that side down into the trail over the winter. And the snow here gets very deep in the winter, accumulating as much as ten feet at times. If you examine the trees closely, you can see moss growing on the trunks of the trees, but the moss will only grow above the snow level, which was several feet above my head.

The sunset at the end of this day was amazing! I hiked through the middle of the meadow soaking my feet in ice cold water (and saw two snakes!) trying to get an unobstructed view of the sky for photos.

At the end of the work day, we headed back to camp and made dinner. Spaghetti or something like that. The most notable event, however, was a couple of hikers who stopped by rather late that night. Or I should say they were runners. They started their jog early that morning at Stephens Pass, nearly 50 miles north along the Pacific Crest Trail. They planned to finish that night—or rather, about 2:00 in the morning—another 25 miles further down the trail at Snoqualmie Pass. A whopping 75 mile hike in a single day!

They explained they had run a 100-mile race a week or so before so they were well conditioned for the hike from Stephens Pass to Snoqualmie Pass. They passed three thru-hikers in the distance covered so far who were in awe of the two hikers, and I couldn't help but be amused when they couldn't understand the awe. "But you guys hiked here from Mexico!" While it's true that the total distance the thru-hikers covered at this point was over 2,000 miles, they've also spent nearly six months doing those miles. Most thru-hikers could hike 30 miles with a heavy pack and have no problem. Most thru-hikers could not pull off 75 miles in a single day, though, pack or no. I've been a thru-hiker, and even in my peak physical condition, I'd never have been able to pull off 75 miles in a single day. The most I ever did in a single day on the Appalachian Trail was 26 miles, and I was thoroughly sick of hiking by the time I quit. (I figured I could probably hike about 35 miles if I really needed to, but I never needed to!) Anyone can hike 2,000 miles if you give them six months. It takes a much rarer breed of person to do 75 miles in a single day.

We fed the couple some cookies and snacks, but they only rested a few minutes before continuing their hike/run in the dark.

August 13

More brush and tread work. Not really anything exciting to report today.

August 14

I carry a cross-cut saw up the ridge.

Okay, this is when the fun really started. We brought up two cross-cut saws to these mountains because of reports of quite a large number of trees fallen on the trail. We quizzed hikers coming in from the north about the tree falls, and the only consensus we reached was that nobody knew what they were talking about. Some hikers told us there were only a 'couple' of bad blow-downs. Others said it was terrible with dozens or 'seems like a hundred!' blow-downs. We hadn't hiked far enough yet to see the trail for ourselves, and the rangers reported about a dozen blow-downs close to the top of the steep grade we had been working on. Today, we would start taking out the blow-downs.

There's something manly about a cross-cut saw. They have large, hungry teeth, stretching perhaps ten feet in length. One man pulls from each side, rhythmically taking out a log or tree one pull at a time. No tree was too big or too small to tackle. The largest of these behemoths quaked in our shadows. Chainsaws were strictly off limits since we were in a wilderness area. No gas-powered tools are allowed. Even in times of emergencies such as wildfires, they'll drop off firefighters with hand tools rather than gas-powered equivalents. Chainsaws are a manly business too, but cross-cut saws are manly and one of those romantic devices from days gone by when men were men and women wore petticoats.

I so very much wanted to use the cross-cut saws, and today we finally got to do so. =)

This was our demonstration cutting log. I'm cutting on the right, Jane is on the left. Everyone else is watching. =)

The log is almost ready to be pushed. We put out skids to make sure the log would roll completely across to the other side of the trail.

We started with a practice log near where we worked the last couple of days. The log blocked the original trail, but after years of being in the way, the trail now curved around the end of the log at one end. We would cut out the log, perhaps 30' long and 2' diameter. I volunteered to cut on the uphill side end of the trail while Jane took the downhill side, but it's exhausting work and we both switched out occasionally to rest. The weight of the saw itself does the cutting—we just pull the saw towards us, then do nothing as the person on the other end pulls the saw back. We cut through the log in about 15 minutes.

Before we cut all the way through, however, we decided to set up some skids below the log. It was a very large, very heavy log, and we didn't want it to get stuck on the trail. We cut out smaller logs to rest under the large log we wanted to move to control where the log would move once we pushed it out of place.

When all was set, we cleared everyone out from the downhill side of the log—don't want any accidents that might take out a crew member!—then cut through the last bit of the log. The log didn't move, which was fine—we didn't expect it to. For safety's sake, we worked under the worst-case scenario that it would move.

We all got behind the log. Some people prepared to push with their bodies. I sat back against a tree and pushed with my legs. On the count of three, we all heaved, and the log creaked, and rolled rapidly across the trail with a tremendous BOOM when it hit resistance on the far side of the trail. We moved the log exactly where we intended it to go, which is kind of remarkable to think about. The log had to weigh multiple tons, just dead weight sitting there, and we moved that darned thing across the trail in the precise location we wanted it.

We removed the skids to control the larger log and threw them off to the side of the trail. The demonstration was done.

Don has almost finished cutting through this log. The axe is in the tree to help make sure the saw does not get pinched between the two sides or twist unexpectedly.

We each packed up and headed up the trail. I carried one of the two cross-cut saws up the mountain, bent in the shape of a half-circle arched over my shoulder. I didn't know it at the time, but cross-cut saws are devilishly tricky to carry, and by the time I made it halfway up the mountain, both of my shoulders were sore, puffy, and not too happy with the saw.

Halfway up the mountain, we started finding logs crossing the trail that needed to be removed. We broke up into two groups, each one with a cross-cut saw, and leap-frogged each other going up the trail. One group would take the first tree fallen across the trail, then the next group would tackle the second tree. Whoever finished first would take the third one, and so forth.

Most of the trees were relatively small and easily cut. Some did not even require the use of cross-cut saws. We manhandled them into place, or used small hand saws to cut trees that were no more than a few inches in diameter. It was the big trees I enjoyed cutting the most. The ones that were one or two feet in diameter. High up on the slope, a forest fire raged a couple of years back and all the trees were killed. Each winter, the snow knocks them down in droves, and each summer, trail crews come in and open the trail through them again. High on the mountain ridge, the views were amazing. The burned out forest allowed us to see the views all around, and it's nothing short of astounding.

At one point, our group went to pass the other group but they stopped us. "Ryan," Janice told me, "we have a special project for you."

I always called these burned out areas of dead trees "elephant forests." There's not a good reason for it—just what I do. The trees fall across the trail by the dozens under the snowpack each winter.

Oh, yeah? Turns out, someone went into the woods at a switchback to take a pee break and discovered some abandoned gear in the woods. Maybe there was a dead body nearby, and they thought I should look for it.

It sounds twisted, I know, but just the night before I was telling people how cool it would be to find a dead body in the woods. Not that I want there to be a bunch of people keeling over in the woods, but if it's going to happen, what a story I would have if I could be the one to find it. If someone has to be the person who finds the dead bodies, it might be interesting to be the one at least once in my life. At least until someone else gets a chance to find my dead body somewhere along a trail.

So when they discovered all this abandoned gear, they immediately thought I should be the one to investigate and see if there were any dead bodies nearby.

Frankly, I thought they were pulling my leg. I went ahead and walked off the trail deeper into the woods and found the gear they talked about. There were pants, a tarp, and miscellaneous odds and ends, plus a couple of large plastic bags. I searched through the remains and found myself wondering if there was indeed a dead body nearby, because this was not the sort of gear people leave behind when their pack is feeling heavy. One bag contained a really, really nice and certainly very expensive Swiss army knife. Another bag contained a disposable camera. People do not typically leave their camera behind. Even on the Appalachian Trail, those first few miles when people realized they carried far more than they should have, they would leave their tents, extra food, and a roll of paper towels behind. They never ditched their camera, and this person did.

The log didn't get very far on its own, so Don is now pushing it down with his legs.

I collected all of the gear I found into two large plastic bags, then searched around some more for additional gear or, perhaps, a dead body. It was rather a weird experience to actively look for a dead body. While it's always possible you might hike up unexpectedly to a heartattack victim, I never actually searched for a dead body before. It seemed like a morbid activity to do, but seeing the gear that was left behind—it left a bad feeling in my gut.

I didn't find anything else, though—no more gear or dead bodies. I left the bags of gear I collected at the switchback to mark the location, and Janice said she'd let the rangers know about this strange discovery. I never heard anything more about who might have left the gear, and I never heard of anyone who is known to have gone missing in that area, so presumably whoever left the gear is alive and well. But it was a strange find....

Insert a 'birds and the bees' joke here....

Don, Jon, and I continued clearing the trail of logs. It's a long haul to the top of the ridge, up thousands of feet in elevation and about ten miles round-trip from our basecamp, so we wanted to finish them that day even if it meant working late. We didn't want to carry the cross-cut saws back down just to carry them back up again two days later. (The next day was our day off.)

At one particularly jumbled bunch of three substantial logs that fell across the trail, we noticed the other group left all their gear there and left. We assumed they had quit for the day and continued to the top of the ridge for the views, but we felt the trees were almost done. We couldn't have been more than a mile, maybe even less, from the top. So we kept working. Cutting, sawing, and pushing those massive beasts off the trail.

One of these three in particular was my favorite. It was on a very steep slope, perhaps 60 degrees or so. The steep slope made the working conditions harder, since we always climbed to the top of the log to see how well attached it was to the ground or not, to get a sense of how securely grounded the tree was. Some of them were held in place with nothing but friction, while others still had their roots securely in the ground. If they were secure, it was relatively safe to move around downslope of them.

But it's hard to find secure footing on such steep slopes, and cutting with a cross-cut saw definitely needs secure footing. More than once we'd call out to each other to stop cutting so we could readjust our feet.

And look at the dust fly! You can see the log shooting down the slope, just before it finished clearing the trail

The benefit of steep slopes, however, was that they created a great deal of momentum once the log was shoved loose. In this case, the log laid mostly lengthwise across the trail. After cutting it loose, we got behind it and pushed with our legs. The log rolled a bit, then started to move! With the forest fire, there was very little underbrush to slow the log, and it rolled down the mountainside, gaining momentum with every rotation, the ground shaking, and sounding not unlike a bulldozer taking down a house until it finally crashed into a dead tree about 50 feet downslope with a thunderous CRASH! The tree quivered violently, and I wondered briefly if the impact was enough to topple it over as well, but it stood. It was an awesome sight to see.

When the log finally stopped, it seemed deathly quiet, dust floating through the air, until Don roared with approval. "Yeeees!!!"

We all applauded the show, replaying it in our heads over and over. Not many people get the chance to roll multi-ton logs down a steep slope in a wilderness area, but wow—it's an amazing thing to witness.

The other type of tree I enjoyed cutting out were the ones that laid directly perpendicular to the trail. Once it was cut, the tree would sled down the slope faster than anything I've ever seen in the wild. With the weight of the tree behind it, it was like a battering ram sliding down the slope—a seemingly unstoppable force that could cut through brush, small trees, and any animals that stood in its path. One time, it didn't slide quite far enough—blocked by a large log that we had misjudged as being too close. Originally, one end of the log blocked the trail. Now, the other end blocked the trail. Rather than cut out the other end, we found smaller logs and used rocks as leverage, trying to push the log off to the side and we finally succeeded in clearing the trail.

Another hour or two later, the other group came back down the mountain, telling us wild stories of views and that they counted another two dozen trees between us and the summit. Damn. There was no way we'd finish this day. Anyhow, we were exhausted. We woke up before sunrise, and it was almost sunset now. Usually, we stopped at two or three o'clock in the afternoon, and it was already four hours past that and we still had a solid five-mile hike back to camp. It was time to call it quits. It was also too late for Don, Jon, and I to scramble to the top of the ridge to view the sunset. Maybe next time.

August 15

Wednesday was our day off to relax and rest. I decided to hike out to Spectacle Lake and kick back. Wonderful!

This was our day off, and most of us decided to hike out to Spectacle Lake for the afternoon. Rumor had it the views were amazing, and it seemed like a good destination. I hiked most of the way with a lone backpacker I had first met the day before while cutting out a log. She camped out with us that night, tired and with blistered feet. She was backpacking from Stephens Pass to Snoqualmie Pass by herself, which I thought was great. It's not often you see a lone, female backpacker, and I'm always impressed by those girls that will do something like that. I think she was kind of lonely, though, after hiking most of the week by herself and probably stopped in our camp to have people to talk with more than anything. She left camp heading south before me, but I had a daypack and hiked faster and caught up soon afterwards, and we hiked the rest of the way to Spectacle Lake together.

Spectacle Lake is amazing—a beautiful body of water, cupped in a small valley at the edge of a plunging cliff on one side and towering, snow-covered mountains on the other. Words can't describe how amazing this place is, and I decided right then and there I wanted to spend a night there during my Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike—hopefully in 2009 if I get my way. =)

I lounged around the lake for what seemed like hours, had lunch, and read a book I brought. Nothing exciting to report, except it was a wonderfully relaxing day at the lake. =)

Spectacle Lake has towering mountains on one side, and a steep drop on the other (which you can't see in this photo), and has to be one of the most beautiful lakes I've ever seen!

Laurie prepares to take a photo of us from a nice overlook above Spectacle Lake using a self timer, and I took a photo of her setting up the camera. Looks like she's falling off a cliff, though, doesn't it? =)

This is the photo that Laurie eventually got with her camera. Turned out well! Laurie is on the left, Jane is on the right, and I'm in the middle.

August 16

I'm cutting under the log—a very hard way to cut, I might add—since if I cut through from the top, the saw might get wedged between the two cut pieces. From below, the weight of the log widens the cut rather than closes it.

Don, Jon, and I decided to take one of the cross-cut saws back to the ridge and finish the job of cutting out the trees. We planned to start at first light since we were unsure how long the job would take. When we finished, we'd hike to the top of the ridge for the views we missed two days ago because we worked late and then hike back to camp whenever we finished. Regardless of when we finished cutting out tree falls, we would be done for the day. We took a radio to keep in touch with the rest of the group who planned to brush the trail along the lower slopes of the ridge and keep them up-to-date on our progress.

It took nearly three hours to hike out to where we quit two days before, all uphill, carrying the gear we needed. One cross-cut saw, a grub-ho, a small handsaw, and an axe.

"Isn't this great?!" I told them. "Three hours of hiking, and we aren't even working yet!" =)

We were working, though, carrying all that gear back up the mountain, hiking the same trails we already hiked before. Being the youngster of the group, I made it to the first log blocking the trail before the other two. Being a smaller sized log, I started cutting into that one with a handsaw. A second log I was able to push off the trail with my legs using no saw at all. I skipped a larger log that I felt would be easier to manage with two people using the cross-cut saw.

The views from the top had clouds falling over the mountain pass like a waterfall. Beautiful, but it's even better when the clouds are moving!

Don and Jon caught up to me about a half hour later, and we all started knocking out the logs as quickly as possible. After the experience two days before, we worked very quickly and efficiently, knocking out the trees at a record pace. We knew what had to be done, and we knew how to do it, and we knew how to work together to get the job done.

It took a few hours, but we knocked out the last of the blowdowns just as the trail rose up to an alpine lake at the top of the ridge. Sinister-looking clouds blew in over the mountains, and the clouds fell like waterfalls into the valley in front of them. It was hypnotic to watch since the cloud would vanish halfway down the valley. Like a waterfall made of air, moving in slow motion. We took our congratulatory photos, then packed up our gear and headed back down the ridge again.

Near the lower slopes, I had to nearly bushwack down the trail where the trail was severely overgrown, wondering what the rest of the group had done all day. Eventually I broke out of the bushwacking, and the trail opened up. I couldn't help but smile, because I knew that's where they had stopped for the day, and what a difference it made!

I tramped into camp just as dinner was about to be served. Don called down with the radio to let them know we had finished and were heading down the mountain two hours before, so they knew when to expect us and waited on dinner until we arrived. Because we left camp before they did and didn't get back until after them, they did all the work cooking dinner and cleaning the dishes afterwards.

The trail to the top of the ridge was now completely clear of logs.

August 17

This is the reroute I worked on. The PCT used to go around the right side of the rock in the middle of the photo. I rerouted it around the left side of the rock.

This time we only hiked a couple of miles up the lower slopes of the ridge to continue clearing the trail of growth where the rest of the group had stopped the day before. It felt rather nice not having to hike all the way back to the top of the ridge for the third time. =) The day would be practically easy! Although not nearly as entertaining as cutting out those massive logs and pushing them down the steep slopes.

I bushwacked a bit higher up the trail than everyone else. I preferred to work alone so I could see the work I did. Not just work that I helped to do, but work that I alone was responsible for. It's a good feeling to look at a section of beautiful, cleared trail and say, "Yep, I did that." *nodding*

At one point, I noticed the trail went around the right side of a rock. It was a narrow section, enough for perhaps one foot, with a slope coming down from the rock that didn't allow for the trail to be widened. Not in that direction, at least. It looked like the trail may have moved around the left side of the rock years and years ago, but the plants and mountain had slowly encroached upon the trail until it was completely buried, and now only that tiny little path around the right side of the rock was left.

Everyone stops for a lunch break.

I decided to reopen that old path, but that left this big hunk of rock in the middle of the trail. It was a solid rock, too. I dug up a lot of large rocks at Mount Adams—iceburgs, as I liked to call them, since perhaps only 10% of the rock was above the trail. The rest was buried and a royal pain in the you-know-what to get out. This looked like an iceburg of enormous size.

Which is when I decided to route the entire trail to the left of the rock. The right side, I could throw debris on to discourage people from using it, and the rock would just be the right edge of the trail. That would work. I would, I decided, single-handedly reroute the Pacific Crest Trail—and not even get a second opinion about it! =)

This dramatic photo is of Jane and myself working on the trail. Look at all that dust we've kicked up!

The idea of creating my own reroute intrigued me. I worked on a couple of reroutes on Mount Adams, but other people had chosen those routes. This time, it would be me and me alone. Okay, maybe it's not a significant reroute, but I intended to close the old trail around the right side of the rock and open a new one on the left side of the rock. That was my mission.

I grabbed the grub-ho and started cutting out a trail, throwing dirt and debris on the right side of the rock to discourage its use and encourage people to use the trail I was cutting out on the left side. It would require 'adjusting' about 40 feet of trail towards the left, leading up to the rock and beyond it. It would likely take a couple of hours to do. I would need to cut out a bunch of vine maple on the uphill side of the trail as well, that threatened to overtake the trail.

I first worked on digging out the new trail, using shade from the vine maples to stay cool—the very maples I planned to cut down once the trail itself was done.

I worked for a couple of hours before a lunch break was called, and told everyone about the reroute I was working on. "It's going to be nice," I assured them.

By now, the rest of the group had caught up to the point where I was working, so they passed me by and I could keep clearing this little section for myself. Laurie passed by the rock, exclaiming, "This is your reroute? Wow! I can't even tell the trail used to go around the right side of the rock!" She seemed impressed with my work, and so was I. =)

I'm assigned dish duty this night. That's me with the jester's hat. Jon is on the right.

Stupid me, though, I forgot to take before and after pictures, so you'll just have to admire my after picture and imagine what it looked like before. The rock I didn't want to dig up is in the middle of the picture, and you can see the trail going around the left side of it. That part was completely impassable when I started—just a narrow path about three inches wide went around the right side of the rock when I started. The part that used to be the trail doesn't look like it was ever the main trail, but it was. *nodding*

A thru-hiker took this group picture for us our last night on the trail. From left to right, it's Dave, myself, John, Mary, Janice, Jane, Don, and Laurie.

The vine maple used to hang directly over the trail creating shade (which was good), but threatened to overtake the trail again with the next winter snowpack, so I cut them out (no longer in shade). This section of trail probably won't get any maintenance again for another five years, so the trail work we do has to last.

After finishing my little section, I pretty much stopped working. Oh, I went through the motions, clearing out trail and all, but I didn't have the heart or energy to do real work anymore. Those two days cutting out logs from the higher slopes were long days, and I felt a short day was justified, and I didn't have my own little project like the trail reroute to work on anymore. I just didn't feel like working anymore. I stopped in the shade and ate snacks, and watched other people work. Occasionally I did a little work myself, but my heart wasn't in it anymore.

Fortunately, everyone called an end to work about a half hour later and we all headed back to camp.

Three thru-hikers stopped for a little trail magic on their hikes to the north. We sucked them in with free food, and lots of it. They told us wild stories about their hike from Mexico, and I told them wild stories about lighting my crotch on fire while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. One of them had even thru-hiked the Florida Trail, so I quizzed him a bit about the experience since I planned to start my own thru-hike of the Florida Trail on January 1st. Their experiences on the Pacific Crest Trail also interested me since I plan to do that someday as well.

August 18

I stopped in Roslyn long enough to take this photo for you Northern Exposure fans while driving back to Seattle. I would have taken it on my drive to the trailhead except it was night and much too dark for a good photo!

A deer looking for blueberries in camp.

Not much to report this day. It was the end of our week. We slept in late, ate breakfast, cleaned up the dishes, packed up our packs, and headed back to civilization. I needed a shower and a shave.

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