Tuesday, October 08, 2013

2013 Wilderness Challenge – Devil’s Dome Loop Day 2

During the first day I mostly imagined hiking fast and making great time on day two. As I started and headed out I realized that this backcountry was the reason for the previous day’s work. It was incredibly beautiful and isolated. I quickly decided that I was going to take my time, savior the incredible beauty and not worry about my pace.

Camp in the Morning
My plan was to hang in my bag and make/eat breakfast from my tent. Nature called me out of the tent and I wasn’t going back in. It had frozen hard the night before and still below freezing when I rolled out of the tent at 7AM. The previous night’s fire had dried my firewood and the morning’s fire started quick and was hot. I cooked by the fire and intermittently packed my gear and watched the sunrise over the eastern peaks. I like camping high in the mountains.

Jack Mtn
I am not sure when I rolled out of camp. I think it was about 8AM. The land was mine. There was nobody for miles around. I was surprised that I hadn’t seen much wildlife and only surmised that they had moved down. Later reports would confirm that I was wrong. Today’s trek was a large circ around the Devil’s Creek drainage and Jack mtn. As I moved South and West across minor drainages I looked back at where I had been the previous day: Devil’s Pass, Devils Dome and then I got a great view of the Picket range. Don Brooks and I had been there a few years back. We had done a circ of the northern Pickets and our last night was sleeping up on the high ridge of Luna Peak. I remember sleeping under the stars and watching a forest fire burn to the East. Near where I was today.

Talless field switchbacks up to the highpoint of the day and lunch
Up and down beautiful country with high alpine meadows and sweet fresh water drainages. When I climbed to the high point of the day up and over a large talles field I stopped for lunch. I took in the whole valley and looked across at Jerry Lakes. What a great remote bushwhack that would be; maybe another day. Lunch was great. I was glad I packed a lot of food. I took my boots off and savored the day’s sun.

From here I hiked down into Devil’s Park and decided that this area would be the week long Boy Scout hike I would lead in 2015. This place is incredible and I would recommend it to anybody reading this. There were campsites scattered throughout and I was thankful that Ras brought me here.

L to R Picketts, Devil's Dome, Hosmean Peaks (double hump that looks like a part of a woman)
One last small uphill to McMillan Park, which was another beautiful spot with many campsites scattered around. Still, I was getting close to the trailhead and this place was slowly losing its wilderness feel. It was truly downhill from here. I was looking forward to the gravity assist. Unfortunately, my legs were not cooperating. What should have been a fun easy jog down turned out to be a painful slog down on sore feet and untrained legs. This section was incredibly like Mt. Si (3,500 feet in 4 miles) and I thought that runners going clockwise would have a great run down to their finish.

As I finally rolled into Canyon creek, I began to notice the marks of man again. First there was a large pit which was about 10ft across and 20ft deep. I tried to understand this. Is it a cave or is there a reason that somebody would dig this hole. Further along I continued to see what looked like road beds but they ran in parallel with deep trenches between them. The hike down Ruby creek was an enjoyable river hike that reminded me of the Lewis River trail. The undulation helped my aching legs

Beautiful Alpine Meadows
As I rolled back toward the East Bank trailhead, I noticed another pit with signs next to it. This is where I learned the history of the area. Many years ago there were thousands of miners here searching for gold. The main town is now below the surface of Ross Lake. The lower road I started on was the way up to the gold fields of Ruby Creek. The holes are all that is left of miner’s claims. The parallel roads and related trenches are the diversion channels that were used to divert water from the creek bed and flush out the gold. These channels were dug by hand by thousands more Chinese laborers. This reminded me of the old stone walls I would find in the woods back east. A man’s life is spent and he is long gone. Some men’s life’s endeavors leave tracks on the Earth which are slowly erased by the passage of time.

Devils' Park Shelter
I think my total time out was 29hrs and 15minutes
I think my total time hiking was about 17:25 (At least that is what my GPS says.
Not sure of the exact mileage because my gps lost satellites in the valleys
Not sure of the elevation change because my watch batteries are dead.

Final shot - GPS a bit short because of drop satellites
But these stats are not important for me. I was not racing for time. I was taking advantage or a great opportunity to share an experience over time. It has been great to read all the other stories and experiences. For me the categories that I compete in include:

Best campsite, Devil’s Pass next to brown sign
Most campfires, 2
Most weight carried over Devil’s Dome, a lot
Longest time out, 29:15

more pics HERE.

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