Swift Creek on Day 44

Last night I could only eat 4/5ths of my pizza before I was too full to continue. One of the gastro-features of a long hike is that the stomach seems to shrink roughly inverse to the increase in hunger. I never eat a large quantity at once while out on the trail. Rather, I snack all day on small portions, nibbling little nuts or pieces of dried fruit as I walk, and my stomach becomes small. I’m hungry though, like a hippo. A hungry hungry hippo. So I did the best I could on my pizza, and had two slices I hoped to eat for breakfast, but where to keep them overnight? They were in a cardboard pizza box, and bringing them into my tent seemed unfeasable and also imprudent. I didn’t think they’d be palatable if I stored them overnight in the privy, so I wedged the box on edge high in the crook of a tree and hoped for the best.

It rained all night, nonstop, and quite heavily much of the time. I managed to see the weather report while in Glacier and it was giving a 50% chance of rain, but this rained drummed down much harder than 50%. The ground under me became soupy, and there was so much moisture built up on the underside of my tent that the hard-hitting raindrops knocked loose a spray of moisture across my face. I had no crises over the course the night, but I woke up soggy and somewhat dreading the day’s hike. Packing up when everything is so wet needs to be carefully choreographed so that what shreds of dryness remain can be saved. I danced through it grimly: this shirt off, that one on, sleeping bag away, food bag toweled off and stowed in pack, and so on. When I was finally done and packed and stashed my pack under the privy’s awning, I went for the pizza box. Of course, in the night something had knocked it down from its perch, the box was sogging apart, and it looked like rodents had been at the crust. I still would have eaten it except when I opened it, the slices were covered in slugs. Because it is the Pacific Northwest, after all. I couldn’t handle the slugs, and threw he last of the it away.

The most interesting stretch of hiking today was on the Swift Creek Trail, which descends from high on Mt Baker’s east flank into the Swift Creek Valley, another of the deep North Cascades river valleys the feel ragged on the edges and seem as though they were made by a giant fingernail raking through the earth. The valley is like a sharp V, the trail a ribbon tacked on the edges and the creek raging below. The trail was wet and somewhat treacherous, apparently not really maintained except for some recent brushing (hallelujah), the kind of trail that requires all my attention to navigate it. My descent to the bottom was punctuated by a ford of Swift Creek, belly button deep and fast moving. I forded with my shoes on.

Tomorrow is supposed to be quite rainy, but I’m headed for the town of Concrete. All day I dreamily thought of the hot shower I’ll take there when I arrive tomorrow afternoon.

20130829-205126.jpgThe Swift Creek valley

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