More News from Walter

posted Aug 25, 2018, 8:22 AM by Paul Wagner
We've posted a few reports from Walter, who writes about his adventures hiking.  Here's another one:  

P:  As I write this I’m relaxing in a cabin just outside of East Glacier in Montana.  My wife and I came here to do some day hikes in Glacier National Park and to celebrate our anniversary.  Unfortunately there have been a number of fires here and to the north, in Canada, and the smoke situation is really intolerable.  Much of the western side of the park is shut down, and the east side, where we are staying, is under a pall of smoke.  We did one fairly easy hike yesterday out of Two Medicine to a high viewpoint, but we couldn’t see much beyond hazy outlines of mountains.  We did another easy one to two waterfalls in the St. Mary area.  The falls were terrific, but the mountains were mostly invisible.  We then drove up to the Many Glaciers area, but the smoke was even worse there.  We didn’t even get out of the car.  So we are cutting the trip short and coming home several days early.  Very disappointing.  I guess my only point, if I have one, is that California is not alone in having an unusual number of fires.  It seems like the entire West is on fire. 

I appreciated your piece about the Donnell Fire.  It has received minimal news coverage, understandably, but it touches me the most.  I was hiking through the Boulder Lake/Disaster Creek area just last August.  Looks like The Arnot Creek area was hit the worst.  As a young boy I camped with my Dad at places like Pigeon Flat, Brightman Flat, and Dardanelle.  I drove past the Dardanelle Resort just a few days before the fire started.  I can’t believe that it’s all gone. 

I did a six-day solo trip out of Leavitt Meadows during the last week of July when the Ferguson fire was in full force.  Went over Dorothy Lake Pass and followed the ups and downs of the PCT to Kerrick Canyon, all the way up Kerrick to Buckeye Pass, down to Buckeye Forks, over Kirkwood Pass (oy!) and back to Leavitt Meadows.  My short report — Damn it was hot!  Just unpleasantly hot, day after day.  I drank gallons of water and still hardly ever peed.  I am too old for this.  Sounds like it was also too hot for your work party in Mokelumne Wilderness, but at least you had better company than I did.  Solo hiking isn’t that great. 

Strangely, it was smoky at Leavitt Meadows both coming and going, but nowhere else.  Northern Yosemite was as clear as could be.  Go figure.  It just depends on which way the wind blows.

I saw plenty of hikers on the PCT, but once I got off the PCT I saw almost no one.  From the time l left the PCT in Kerrick Canyon until the time I got within a few miles of Leavitt Meadows, a course of about 20 miles, I saw only ONE backpacking party.  Same thing last year in Carson Iceberg: plenty of through-hikers on the PCT, and absolutely no one once I got off the PCT. 

Finally, I have to add that the first party I ran into on my way back to Leavitt Meadows had six or seven goats with them, and the goats were carrying packs.  One guy told me that the goats are great on the trail, stay close, feed themselves, and the biggest ones carry packs weighing up to fifty pounds.  I am giving this some thought.  They seemed like nice goats.