Jul 03

Echo Lake with Sam Flanagan: 01-02JULY2021

Echo Lake is located within the Norse Peak Wilderness, just north of Mount Rainier, and in proximity of the Crystal Mountain ski resort. It is pristine wilderness with wonderful streams and beautiful lakes, marred only by the unfortunate occurrence in 2017 of a major forest fire that raged through this area. The fire was started by lightning strike, and though it was fairly comprehensive, it is seen extensively when one is hiking in proximity to our current trail while on the Pacific Crest Trail. The fire was rather selective, leaving large patches of unburnt trees, and occasionally a small island of viable trees in a field of charred and dead trees. Some of this hike traversed burnt sections, though there were still mostly viable trees.

We started out on July 01 at about 10 am, and the parking lot was essentially empty. This is an extremely popular hike so that was quite strange. On the way in, we greeted the owner of the one other car in the lot who was hiking out. She also had a Gossamer Gear backpack, which is not the most common backpack in this part of the universe.

Crossing a stream on a precarious “bridge”, aided by a rope strung across the creek by the forest service.
Sam entering the Norse Peak wilderness
Hiking up the Greenwater River system, past the lower and upper Greenwater Lakes.
Sam at the horse camp of Echo Lake. Across the lake, one can observe the devastation of the 2017 fire.

I originally intended to do this hike as a loop, going from Echo Lake up to Corral Pass, spending the night at Corral Pass, and then descending by way of the Lost Lake trail and back to the trail head. Echo Lake was 7 miles from the trailhead, and a lot of climbing. As we went past the Greenwater Lakes, we encountered more and more mosquitos. Sam applied mosquito juice, but still got eaten up. I was using a mosquito head net, but they were not attacking me as viciously as Sam, so loaned the net to him. Even still, by the time we reached Echo Lake, Sam had had enough of the mosquitos, and we decided to call it quits. We ate lunch and then dinner, set up our tent, and had a restful night. The day was warm but mostly cloudy, with blue sky for an hour or two while we were at the lake. On the way out the next day, we then encountered swarms of weekend warriors coming up the trail. We got to the parking lot about 11 am, which was nearly full of cars. I gave Sam an obligatory stop at Wally’s for his Wallyburger, a treat not to be missed.

On arriving home, Betsy had a list of chores to get done. Meanwhile, I conspired as to my next hike. Sometime after the 4th JULY, I will be taking the train down to Vancouver, WA and meet Gaylon. The next AM, he will drop me off at the Bridge of the Gods, but this time, I will start hiking north. I’ll probably not resupply until White Pass, a total of 150 miles, and then terminate the hike at Chinook Pass, and hitch hike back to civilization.

The multiple obstacles that I continually am confronting have left me with the question as to whether I’m crazy, or whether God is blocking every attempt of mine to complete the trail. At this point, I’ve lost all interest in completing the entire PCT. I would like to hike most of the Washington and Oregon parts of the trail, and hopefully also hike the trail from Castella to Ashland. I don’t have any extreme hopes or expectations. I’ve learned the importance of enjoying the hike. Many will push on in the face of miserable conditions, simply to claim that they’ve done the entire trail. That’s not my cup of tea. I’ll do what I can, but I’ll enjoy it while I do it.

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