Day Eight: Buck Creek Pass to South Fork Agnes Creek
|Distance: 11 miles
It rained most of Day Eight, so there are no photos. At this point, Chuck ran out of film, Kevin's digital camera battery was dying and I only had a few shots left on my disposable camera. It was a memorable day, but not one that could be captured on film.
Both Bob and Kevin were hurting. Bob used a hiking stick and wore his sandals instead of his boots--as did Kevin. We were running low of ibuprofen too, so there was some tough times among the raindrops. We were hoping to see Glacier Peak in the morning, but it was not to be. However, we were able to complete the detour and rejoin the original PCT after about five miles of hiking. Before we got there, we had to navigate another hazard, a nest of angry wasps.
While hiking on Miner's Creek Trail, we came across a party of four hikers. They told us they had an encounter with a wasp's nest about 1/4 mile down the trail. One woman was puffy from 30 wasp bites. And another hiker said he lost his trekking pole in the chaos. We asked for his name and told him that if we found the pole, we'd send it back to him (Dr. Wendell, a podistrist in Seattle). Chuck and I were in the lead that day and we kept hiking toward the wasps, but found nothing after 1/4 mile. We asked hikers coming the other direction and they said there wasn't much to see. So we wondered if it was all a joke or some kind of psychololgy experiment.
Then, about 1/2 a mile after our encounter, I saw a red trekking pole on the side of the trail. I was going to grab it when suddenly I was stung by a wasp on my shin. I immediately ran down the trail--which was pretty easy since I was wearing trail runners! Chuck would not be thwarted. He reached for the pole and grabbed it, getting three wasp bites in the process. He and I regrouped after the wasp nest and worried about Kevin and Bob who wre behind us. We decided to wait and hope to guide them away from the wasps.
First came Kevin, who we were able to guide verbally away from the nest. But Bob seemed to be far away. I decided to write a note instead. So I tore up some papers and wrote some notes warning hikers of the nest. Then I carefully hiked off trail away from the wasp nest and placed the detour warning on the trail. Then I hiked back to where Chuck and Kevin were waiting. We were just about to leave when suddenly we heard Bob. He had started on the detour, but returned to the trail right before the nest. We warned him off the trail and he took a long detour throught he woods. At least he didn't get stung. Chuck got the worst of it--one wasp stung him in his armpit!
For once we were all hiking together and we finally rejoined the PCT. I took some photos but the woods were too dark and the images never turned out. Still, we were pretty happy to be back on a well-engineered trail. Little did we know that we would be off the PCT in a few miles.
It started to rain as we approached Suiattle Pass. It was time for full rain gear. The rain came pouring down and the air remained chilly. Under these conditions, it made sense to get down to lower elevations as soon as possible. The PCT stayed high after the pass, but there was an older trail along the South Fork of Agnes Creek that lost elevation quickly. It also was one mile shorter than the PCT section we would be avoiding. Under the circumstances, it was a no-brainer. We decided to take the lower trail.
We almost camped at the first site we found--at the juncntion with the Railroad Creek trail. But we were still high--5,500 feet. As we stood at the campsite, I still felt cold and wet. After a few minutes, we all felt the same way. We repacked our backpacks and decided to continue down the South Fork trail. A few minutes down the trail, we ran into ANOTHER wasp nest. This time I was the first in line, and I ran down the trail with a swarm on my heels. Bob said the swarm was confused by the flapping of my raincover over my backpack. That raincover probably saved me from getting bitten--I was able to outrun the swarm.
About halfway down the South Fork Trail we came across a primiative campsite. Since we weren't sure if there was another campsite along this section, we decided to stay here. Again, we built a fire and tried to dry out our clothes from the rain. This was our second miserable night on the trail, but this time the rain stopped and we didn't have a "river" running through our tent site, as we did at Pear Lake.