Hitch 3-Part 1

This trip started off with our typical prep day. We find out where we’re going, how long we’ll be out, who’s partnered with who, which partner carries what, and making sure we all have enough food and gear to see us through to the end of the hitch.
For hitch #3 I was partnered with Solomon, and we worked alongside Phill and Garrett, which officially made us the Dude group. Our first assignment took us up Dingford Creek, not too far outside North Bend, WA, where we surveyed sites along the creek, Hester Lake, as well as both Myrtle and Little Myrtle Lakes. The trail to Hester Lake was one of the muddiest I’ve ever seen, and one of Phill’s boots almost fell victim to the treacherous muck. What we first thought would be a three night excursion became a two-nighter after we worked some longer hours and got back to the trailhead earlier than first planned. The other group moved quickly as well, allowing us to split into pairs the next day for some longer day trips.
For the day trip I teamed up with Elliott to survey up the very popular Denny Creek trail past some impressive waterfalls to Lake Melakwa. It doesn’t feel much like wilderness when you start off my walking underneath the I-90, but the lake at the end of the trail didn’t disappoint. I vowed to return for some swimming on off-time. The other groups checked out Alaska and Joe Lakes, which turned out to be long and difficult trips with Pip and Solomon not getting back until after dark.
One of our crew members was hobbled by a sprained ankle and went home early to try to nurse the injury back to health, which meant we also needed to shuffle the teams around a bit. For the next three nights I would still be partnered with Solomon, but we would now be joined by Phill for the last leg of the trip, still representing the Dude group.
The three of us started out at Steven’s Pass on Highway 2 and headed south on the PCT. We surveyed along the way, finding sites and Susan Jane, Josephine, Mig, Hope, Trap, Glacier, and Surprise Lakes. We travelled fewer miles this time, but found a lot of sites to keep us busy. Fighting off the swarms of mosquitoes occupied a significant amount of time as well. Despite that, these four days and three nights were probably my favorite of the summer so far. The PCT proved to be a great trail, with chances to walk through meadows, forests, over passes, through mud, snow, and rocks. We had views of high crags and peaks as well as long forested valleys. The weather was great and the wildflowers were in full bloom. I couldn’t have asked for more. To top it off, both groups met up on the last night, allowing us to all walk out to the Surprise Creek trailhead together a day early. Given the extra hours that both groups put in throughout the week, we were able to take the last day off to relax and recuperate.
In the end, I counted my own personal mileage at a little over 53 miles and helped to survey somewhere close 150 different sites.
-Mark Huntley