Friday, August 15, 2008
Jon and I took Thursday off and headed north to Hatcher Pass for a little day hike. We started at the lower parking lot just outside the fee station, hiking up a narrow trail toward a high valley. Ground squirrels ran and ducked away from us as we hiked near several boulder fields.
While I explored the valley, Jon hiked to the top of a ridge. I love looking at the different rock formations we find in these high valleys that years ago were covered by glaciers. How many years did the moving ice push these boulders down the slopes before leaving them here? How much longer did the forces of rain, snow, heat and cold work to split them, leaving them the way they are today?
I listened for hidden creeks, gurgling under the boulders, which form the headwaters for the creek that grows as it rushes down valley.
After our explorations, we met at a saddle just north of the valley, then made our way over the saddle and across some boulder fields to Gold Cord Lake, a clear alpine lake one valley over. Raindrops sent endless ripples across the water, lapping into each other. It was quiet standing in the fresh, rain-soaked air. We heard the cry of a bird high in the cliffs, but couldn't spot it. No one else was at the lake.
Our route back was on the Gold Cord Trail, a replacement of the old trail. Where the old route went straight up alongside the drainage, the new trail has switchbacks and creative rockwork helping hikers cross the boulder fields. It took us to an old mining cabin, insulated with sod. It looped around large boulders, which gave us different views than we would have seen had we been on the original trail. I couldn't help but appreciate the planning that went into making a better trail that more people will enjoy.