Wilderness Ranger Corps - Hitch One

Our season began with a pair of spectacular hikes that are practically in our own back yard. On our first day of work we hiked 4.5 miles past gorgeous waterfalls and alder groves to survey some campsites on the Boulder River. The following day we hiked to beautiful Goat Lake in the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness. It was 10 miles round trip past more waterfalls to the lake. Upon seeing glorious Goat Lake, with its crystal clear water and snowy, rocky backdrop, we were all stunned as we began to grasp exactly how cool this opportunity may be. We had a lakeside lunch then worked alongside George Winters from the Forest Service and had another fantastic day. We then drove south to the Norse Peak Wilderness were we spent three nights and four days backpacking from lake to lake and surveying about two-dozen campsites: Our first night was spent at Greenwater Lake, we then hiked around Quinn Lake, and stayed at Lost Lake. The next morning we climbed the shoulder of Noble Knob and summited Mutton Mountain, then walked down to Corral Pass, around Hidden Lake and to Echo Lake, taking points and assessments wherever we found signs of camping. We spent a night at Echo Lake where we got our first taste of the bugs and then hiked out to the Greenwater Trailhead. We totaled about 22 trail miles in those four day, plus the many off-trail excursions. The weather was perfect and the terrain provided some amazing views of Rainier, Adams and mountains in every direction. We then came back to the Darrington district for two more day hikes to close out the first hitch. We split the crew to cover more ground. One party did hikes up the 8-Mile Trail over Squire Pass and down Squire Creek, The other went up Marten Creek, around Kelcema Lake and then to Copper and Beaver Creeks. Hiking off of the Mountain Loop Highway will undoubtedly involve gaining altitude and while our forays into the wildernesses were challenging they were equally rewarding. Our legs are feeling used but strong and our eyes are hungry for more spectacular views of these North Cascades.     -Sterling