On my second day of hiking in a row I wanted some piece and quiet. No guns, axes or wrist rockets this time around (see post, Wrist rockets, axes and Guns). I choose to hike the Pratt River Connector Trail in search of the Pratt River Trail itself. I left my options open to whatever might come my way.
I started at the Middle Fork TH (Trail Head) where I met two mountain bikers who gave me the scoop on riding the Middle Fork Trail. After looking into it more I found out you can only ride the trail on odd number days. From the sounds of it, its a sweet ride which brings you to the heart of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
This hike became unlike most I take. I didn’t try and hike as fast as I could or go as far as I could. I just hiked. The trail lead me where it wanted to go, not the other way around. It was revealed to me that I wasnt really ready for my hike from Stevens to Snoqualmie Pass (StoS). Like yesterdays hike I went over and over the things I still have to accomplish to make my StoS hike a reality. In doing so I realized I’m not ready.
The trail itself was great at times, leading me through beautiful forest of lush green ferns and large cedars. Other times I was no sure where the trail was at all and just had to wing it, following what looked like an old tread or following the pink ribbon for the new trail. When the underbrush diminished brown and black slugs revealed themselves on the path. They move at a pace I can’t imagine. Their world seems to be so small but I’m sure to them it’s endless. Speaking of quiet, the woods were silent. The only sound was of my pass. I didn’t see anyone until I got to the meadow that used to contain the Halfway House. (I researched the Halfway House some but couldn’t find anything on what it was.) A fly fisherman was fishing the Middle Fork. As I watched him cast his line I debated on whether or not to cross the river and head back on the road or whether Id push on to the Pratt River Trail, returning the way I had come.
After a short unsuccessful search for the connector trail to the Pratt River Trail I decided to ford the Middle Fork. Im pretty sure I spooked the guy fishing, as I caused a small avalanche while dropping down the river bank. He probably thought I was a bear. Knowing the water would be quite cold I didnt bother to test it. There wasnt anything I could do about it so I just sat down, took off my shoes and shocks and carefully took my first step into the river. The rocks were so incredibly slippery it was nearly impossible to stand. I cant tell you how bad I wish I had my felt bottomed wading boots right now. About half way a cross the river I stepped wrong and jammed my foot between two rocks. Luckily the cold numbed any pain caused by misstep. It was also around now that I was glad the river was only 50 and not more. The cold water was starting to hurt. As I stepped onto the opposite bank my feet were red from the cold. I quickly dried my feet and I was off again.
Chatting to two of the fisherman proved useful as I was pointed in the right direction to find a trail to the Middle Fork Road. I followed a spider web of trails until finally I reached the road. Before I could gain access to the road I had to get past a very large and loud dog. The trail I was on went right through the camp of a couple and their very large German Sheppard. He wasnt too keen on me cutting through their camp and let me know. I skinned my way through, out of harms way and started what I thought would be a long boring road walk back to the car. I had seen a trail head on the way in and had forgotten about it. I actually walked right by it, thinking it wouldnt go where I wanted to. Then like a smart hiker I took out the map. Sure enough the trail went right back to the parking lot following the road. I did an about face and was back in the woods.
The CCC Road was a great trail. Unlike the Pratt Lake Connector Trail on the other side of the river, this trail was smooth, well kept, and very easy to follow. This was the kind of trail you take the kids on. I cursed along winding my way through beautiful forest, once again all alone. Shortly after crossing a rock slide which gave me my only view on the trail I caught a large group of day hikers. Before long I was at the turn off for the Middle Fork Campground. With the car so close I turned up the speed for the first time all day and was back to the parking lot in no time. I thought Id go up the Middle Fork Trail to recon it for biking but it just felt right to call it a day. Why ruin a nice quiet day in the woods by going up a crowded trail that was sure to have lots of hikers. Satisfied with the hike and looking forward to some downtime at home I packed up and headed back.
Get out there!