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Agnes Creek

Posted by on August 8, 2015

On August 4, I awoke early and was on the trail by 5:45 am. I had a few pleasant, flat miles to walk along theĀ  Suittle River, among an old growth forest. The trees, some of which are over 1,000 years old, towered above me and I could not see their tops. I was a warm and peaceful morning which made me glad to be alive and healthy.
In a few miles I came to a large steel and wooden bridge and crossed to the other side. There was a trail junction and notices about the fire closure posted near by. It was suggested that all hikers take the trail right miles to a parking lot and try to hitch a ride to Rainy pass. By doing this, one would miss nearly 40 miles of the PCT even though only 15 miles were closed. I determined to hike as much of the PCT as possible so I continued up the trail, even if I had to back track later. The trail was closed at a pass and I wanted to get a view of what I would be missing.
After three hours of climbing, I reached the trail closure and looked out. I saw no evidence of fire; I could neither see nor smell smoke.
I reasoned that even if the trail was closed, the wilderness area was still open so I decided to explore a bit more, telling myself that I would turn around at the first sign of danger.
I made my way down the first valley and was greeted with spectacular views.

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The sky was blue, with just a few wisps of clouds, a perfect day. All down that valley and the next one, I kept on the alert for fire but didn’t sense anything. When I got to the valley floor, I crossed Agnes Creek on a log bridge and followed the river for several miles.
Through the trees, on the other side of the river, I started to see a bit of smoke and smelled fire. It was far away and no threat, but I stayed on my guard. As I drew nearer, there was more smoke but it was isolated in just a few places. This is what it looked like at the worst, and most of that was caused by a slight breeze moving the smoke.

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In another mile I was past the fire and didn’t smell any more smoke. Sure, I had taken a calculated risk, but everything had worked out and I got to see an amazing valley and bowl that most other hikers will miss this season.
When I got out of the closed area I took a break and checked where I was. I had 5 miles to High Bridge, where I could catch a bus into the town of Stehekin, my last resupply point. The last bus came in two hours. It was all down hill. I made up my mind, packed up my stuff, and hiked as quickly as possible. I entered North Cascades National Park along the way, but was mostly in a heavy forest without many views, except for those of the river.

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I walked at nearly 4 miles an hour for five miles and had plenty of time to spare before the red bus came.

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The ride into town took 45 minutes along the 11 mile dirt road. When we reached the shores of Lake Chelan, where Stehekin lies, I was struck by the wild fire raging on the hillside across the lake.

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I could see trees on fire and two helicopters dropping water on the fire. I watched this spectacle for an hour while I ate dinner, then got on with my chores. I slept in the campground on the edge of town that night.

3 Responses to Agnes Creek

  1. Jean

    Jacob can tell about watching a fire rage over those mountains about 40 miles down lake when he was in high school. The power and speed of the fire was something I will never forget! I’m glad you made it through safely!

    • travel

      Yes, he told me about it. He was watching the Godfather when you said you had to go. The fire I was near was not like that but the Wolverine fire is quite large and with all the dry tinder it is worrying. I was always safe though.

  2. Aunt Patty

    Glad you got around the fires.

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