Final Hitch Part 2- By Mark Huntley

Our final hitch started out like most of the others, with a prep day at the house. North Bend Farmer’s Market, groceries, miscellaneous errands, packing packs, testing filters, stoves and other devices and deciding how much stuff we could reasonably leave behind. I knew from the start this hitch would prove to be the biggest mental battle of the season, with the end now so close at hand.
Day two started with travelling to Darrington and on to the Suiattle River, right back where this adventure started on Hitch 1. We didn’t dilly dally at the trailhead though, moving on to Canyon Creek that night to camp with our favorite Wilderness Ranger, George. The next morning we headed out, but split into two groups a mile or two down the trail.
SCA 6 and 7, consisting of Elliott, Pip, Solomon, and myself, headed up the Miner’s Ridge Trail. Over the next couple days we assessed and inventoried sites around the Miner’s Ridge Lookout, Image Lake, the Canyon Lake trail, Lady Camp, some old miner’s cabins, a chunk of the PCT (which has been packed with through-hikers nearing the end of their own long journey), and an area known as the Golf Course. We also ran into lots of armed men with horses and ridiculously large tents since the High Hunt was on in Glacier Peak Wilderness. Large male deer and bears beware. After a successful few days, we headed back down trail, hopped in the trucks and made an hour-or-so drive on Forest Roads to our next trailhead.
The next couple days had us covering some pretty rough terrain, but we still reached all of our intended destinations. Crystal, Meadow and Diamond Lakes lived up to their names pretty well. We discovered Meadow Mountain was also aptly named, and I think it would be appropriate to call the whole area Blueberry Central. Very tasty! After a long final day, we were greeted back at Darrington with a homemade pizza party at George’s house. Our last night was spent at the trail crew bunkhouse in Darrington, a sparse and echoey place, had breakfast in the parking lot of the local grocer and were back to Snoqualmie Pass to clean and wrap up the summer.
Overall, I would qualify this summer as spectacular. The sights have been unparalleled, the weather unexpectedly delightful, the company interesting, and the work enjoyable. It will be an experience none of us will ever forget.
-Mark Huntley