Final Hitch Part 1- by Sarah Whitaker

The second day of hitch 6 we were back at Downey Creek in the Glacier Peak Wilderness, reliving the first day of hitch 1, but our packs weighed less, our tents went up quicker, we cooked dinner in half the time, and we were leaner, stronger, fitter, and faster. The first day we hiked in four hours what took us seven and a half the first hitch. Camped at Canyon Creek that night, George told us stories of his fifteen years as a Forest Service employee, his enthusiasm for his job and the wilderness areas he has wandered for years contagious. The next day we split in to our two groups, Garrett, Phill, and Sarah heading up the PCT towards upper Miner’s Creek and the other group up Miner’s ridge. Sites covered in snow during hitch 1 had melted out in the intervening 6 weeks and we were able to do accurate surveys. Day four found us surveying the Buck Creek Pass trail up to Flower Dome, Glacier Peak towering in the distance obscured slightly by smoke from fires burning near Wenatchee and Ellensburg. The next day that trail would be closed because of these same fires, but we would be walking in the opposite direction, seventeen miles back to the Downey Creek campground to meet up with the other half of our group. Our final two days would find us hiking eighteen miles uphill to Cub Lake. As the devil’s club and stinging nettles ripped at our legs, we wondered how we had made it through 3 months of this, but by the time we had eaten wild blueberries and seen the wildflowers around Cub Lake, we had remembered the views, the miles, the surveying, and the beauty, and those questions had receded in to the distance. After hiking out down Downey Creek the next day, we spent the evening at George and Bridget’s house eating homemade pizza, vegetables from their garden, and ice cream sandwiches. Hitch 6 ended with tired legs, but full tummies.

Sarah