We’re perched near the spine of the North Cascades, miles of trail-less wilderness surrounds us. The day is calm and peaceful. It’s early June and the hiking trails below tree line are teeming with weekenders from Seattle, but up here the mountains are locked in snow. With two-thirds of the Ptarmigan Traverse behind us, we’ve yet to see another soul.Read More
We’re days from the trailhead when we come upon Jim. “You guys see a solo hiker, guy about my age?”
“No, we’ve been off trail the last few days…” Elliot starts before Jim cuts him off.
“With the way his feet were killing him, he couldn’t follow me where I was going. We split four days ago with plans to meet down at the lake on the 10th or 11th. Today’s the 11th and we got a flight to catch”.Read More
The evening sky darkens and the cold starts to come. I pull on gloves, take a drink, and shoulder my pack to continue up the wide track of cold dust and protruding stone. Within the hour I come to a village, little more than a few teahouses perched above the frothing churn of the Bhote Koshi River. It’s dusk at 11,000 feet and the wind bites. I need to find shelter soon.Read More
The boulder shifts and my right foot twists. I hop sideways trying to catch myself but trip and fall into the rocks. The dislodged hunk clatters away downhill and I lie still for a moment. Everything feels ok, thank god. I roll to my back and swing my legs downhill. The flash of fear and anger softens as I sit where I’ve fallen, looking down at bloodied shins and unstable granite boulders fanning away to the valley floor below.Read More