Thursday, September 13, 2012

Day 145: Waptus River to Glacier Lake

A thick haze of smoke blanketed the cool, damp valley, leaving the wet, ashy smell of a campfire that had just been doused by water. Other hikers tell us that the smoke is brought by the wind from the Wenatchee fire, a safe distance away.

The ground and plants were all covered with dew drops, and our pant legs quickly soaked through as we brushed past wet, overgrown huckleberry bushes and thimbleberry vines. Although the trail paralleled the Waptus River and Waptus Lake shore, a dense forest separated us from the water. Then the trail turned and began switchbacked up the Deep Creek canyon. Near the top of the canyon the trail narrowed, following ledge high above Deep Creek. A short climb brought us to the beautiful meadow carpeted basin that holds Deep Lake.

A tapping noise drew our attention up to an old tree stump. A woodpecker jackhammered into the gray, bare stump. A black and orange butterfly with delicate scalloped wings also flitted about.

Ahead, Cathedral Peak rose before us like a great rocky cathedral adorned in colorful tapestries of deep green pines, pale green lichen, and reddish gold shrubs. We climbed to the top of nearby Cathedral Pass (5,610 ft), then quickly lost most of the elevation we had struggled all morning to gain.

A thick cloud of smoke greeted us when we reached Deception Lakes. But even the smoke could not obscure the beauty of the grassy meadows that fringed the lakeshores and the rocky cliffs rising behind them.

The late afternoon sun lit the mountains with a golden hue as we climbed up to Pieper Pass (5,920 ft). As the sun slipped behind the eastern ridge, we dropped down the steep, rocky slope to our camp at Glacier Lake.

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