1227ft gain/4189ft loss. 15.25 miles. Yes, that’s right. 15.25 miles. I wouldn’t really realize it though, until I was home, and downloaded the GPS data. I knew it was a long day, (we spent 7 hours hiking without stopping, never once dropping our packs), for I felt hobbled once we finally arrived back at the truck. I practically threw my pack into the back of his truck, wanting nothing more than to be rid of its weight.
Blue sky! Amazing, really, I have a hard time remembering when I awoke to blue sky this time of the year in the backcountry! There, atop the ridgeline, was the full moon, not having completely disappeared yet below the ridgeline, and I get some good pictures of the moon before it dips down out of sight. We eat breakfast, break camp, and head back the way we came. This time, we follow the game trail until it crosses the trail, making for an easier descent.
The ridgeline here is resplendent in scarlet hues, mixed with gold’s, and it creates a patchwork quilt of colors, the early morning sun lighting it up as if it were on fire. Very beautiful, and it covers most of the open ground along the ridgeline here, until we reach our trail junction that takes us along the backside of the connecting ridgeline between Noble Knob, and Mutton Mt. Once again, we enter trees, but it’s a flat hike for the next mile or so.
Peeking through the trees, we can see the mountain is out, fresh snow adorns its flanks and against the cloudless blue sky, it’s an impressive sight, we’re close enough to see all the crevasses in the glaciers. The trail here is well maintained, and soft dirt is welcome underfoot. We reach another trail junction, and it’s here that we get full on, unobstructed views of Mt. Rainier to our southwest. It’s a rare day to see it out like this, and I make sure to get as many shots of it as I can.
“…the bright, fiery reds are stark contrast against the blue sky, and pristine white of the mountain…”
The trail takes us along the backside of Mutton Mt. and we pass at least 20 or 30 people, taking full advantage of the beautiful views. It’s Saturday, and one can drive to corral pass, making this an easy day hike, for there is little elevation gain/loss from here to the pass. Again, the bright, fiery reds are stark contrast against the blue sky, and pristine white of the mountain. Once past Corral Pass, we really begin our downhill and it switchbacks down to the beginnings of Greenwater River. Lost Lake collects the tributaries that flow out of the valleys above, to help form its beginnings.
The trail follows the river as it flows downstream from there, collecting steam as it continues to be fed from small streams flowing down clefts in the wooded ridgelines above us. It’s hard to see, as this part of the trail is through dense old growth. The first real clearing we see, since our descent from Corral Pass, is at Echo Lake, a large woodland lake, with grassy fields at the southern edge. Stock use this trail as well, so there is a horse camp around the middle of the lake, at the northern edge, is a small backpacker’s camp.
We never once encountered bikes, or horses on this trip, and from Corral Pass, to here, not one other backpacker, either. We continue our downward trek through old growth forest, occasionally meeting up with the river, for the next 3.34 miles. By the time we reach the “Y”, and our final stretch home, I’m exhausted already, not realizing the amount of miles we’ve already travelled. Now, it’s just a mindless hump to get home, concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other. By the time we reach the truck, (as I said before), I thought my legs were going to fall off, and I could not wait to get the pack off of my back.
Even Merci, who constantly ran back and forth, running out ahead, then back to Brian, looked bushed. Within minutes of climbing in the truck, she was racked out.
It was a great hike, even including the exhaustion. The fact that we got to see some pretty country along with great weather, (for a change), only helped to highlight this hike. And, it gave me some new ideas on where to go, for there are many trails and ridgelines to explore in this part of the Snoqualmie-Mt. Baker national forest.