Up and down and up and down

Day 26 – 8/1/16
Before Upper Suiattle Trail
Miles – 21.5
Total Miles – 395.1 (PCT 2534.7)
We woke to beautiful blue skies. Not a cloud anywhere.  Camping in the river valley meant that we had a cold night. Mama and Papa Raven could not get warm through out the night. Our camp was on the west face of Glacier Peak, which meant that we got late sun.  We packed up and started our first climb of the day which was to the top of Fire Creek Pass. The trail contoured and climbed from ridge to ridge until it reached the pass. Bling and Little Crow got to the top about 10 minutes before we did. Mama and Papa Raven stopped to talk to a young man from Oceanside Ca. (a town near where we live).  He was thru hiking SOBO. Our tardiness allowed Little Crow and Bling time to make and hide many snowballs. As we reached the top, they popped up from their hiding place and started throwing snowballs at us. They had a great time pelting us, and we could not retaliate. The snow field was to far away. The kids had an epic snowball fight on what looked like the top of the world with the magnificent Glacier Peak looming over head and the entire northern Cascades surrounding us. Eagerly, we took a break at the top to revel in the beauty we were in. The Northern Cascades are extremely strenuous.  The trail goes up steep ups to only go down steep downs on the other side. Then it repeats itself over and over again. Despite the difficult terrain, hikers are rewarded grandly with stunning scenery.  It is beautiful, rugged country! The effort is worth it.  The next part of our trail headed down 3000′ in about 5.5 miles to Milk Creek. This was just a long foot pounding down. What we were not looking forward to was what came next, a 1600′ climb in 4.5 miles. The day was getting hot as we started up.  We had to swim are way through plants that over grew the trail.  The temperature and humidity rose dramatically when we were in them. It was a difficult section. Tiredly, we reached the top and rested on an outcropping of rocks as Glacier Peak, stood behind us.  We had a little more up to go before we dropped over 3000′. The day was disappearing quickly as we hiked into the valley, we went for several miles through fields of purple lupine and an unknown white flower.  The air we passed through, smelled sweet from the flowers. At the bottom of the valley, we came to the only camp in the valley.  We found four other tents there. We stopped to talk to the other hikers. We quickly realized that one of the hikers was Lord Vader. He hiked the majority of the PCT last year and only got off after an injury to his foot. He missed White Pass to Stehekin and is back this year to complete that section to finish his PCT thru-hikers.  Last year we meet him only once at Old Station. He was leaving the town as we hiked in and he gave us his room key so we could take showers. We all talked for a bit before we hiked on to find a camp. The Ravens were excited to run into him and to finally get a chance to talk to him.  Mama Raven was probably the happiest over our encounter with Lord Vader because she tried hard to get a photo of all the hikers we came in contact with, and Lord Vader was one she did not have. Now she does! It was quickly getting dark so we said our good byes and hiked a mile further till we found a spot off the trail. It was soft and semi-flat and home for the night for the tired Ravens.

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