There’s a silver forest light that I’ve only seen in Pacific Northwest forests. Not yellow, but pure white sun hitting the multi-textured greens.
Today is rivers and waterfalls and flowers and trees growing from the shells of other trees and cloudy vistas and a brief glimpse of the mountain and ferns, always ferns all the way down.
We follow a green staircase of a trail down to ripe huckleberries and salmonberries. Circumnavigating the mountain reveals how different exposures and elevations stagger the seasons: a flower variety that is in full bloom on one side of the mountain will already be wilted and going to seed further around. Huckleberries are green one day but beautifully sweet and blue the next. The south side so far is always cloudy.
Lunch is followed by an epic nap in our hammock, hung next to Stevens Creek where we’re close enough to the park road to see day hikers in flip-flops pass through. What we don’t see, though, are birds and animals. There seem to be surprisingly few out here, even of the usually ubiquitous rodents: I’ve counted more slugs than chipmunks on this hike.
We cross Stevens Canyon Road and stop to take advantage of the roadside flush toilets and trash cans before heading back into the forest.
Tonight will be our one off-Wonderland-Trail campsite: we basically run down the 800-foot drop on the Cowlitz Divide Trail to Olallie Creek Camp and a surprisingly bug-free site directly next to the creek.
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
13 miles: 3,646′ up, 3,546’ down (including 800′ to Olallie)
Paradise River Camp to Olallie Creek Camp