The trail climbs up into dense timber above Cataract Creek. At one point the stream is down in a canyon. We walked a stone ledge high above. A side trail slipped down beside a huge boulder that had rolled off the mountain to our right ages ago. The view down into the canyon and across to the snow covered mountains was stunning. Equally fascinating were petroglyphs set under a ledge on the huge rock. Red hands and rectangles with other odd symbols.So few people come here that the site is not ruined.
Back on the trail we heard a huge thunder/cracking sound. The sky was clear. Looking through the trees across the stream on the mountain above we saw white drifting snow from one of the ice fields. What we heard was a small avalanche. “Cool,” said Matthew.
The trail dropped to a great meadow of thicket and dwarf willow. We lost the trail several times in the thicket and then it disappeared completely. We just wandered upstream (uphill) until the trail appeared again. With the roaring creek on the left and a rising mountain a hundred yards on the right, it was hard to feel completely lost in the thick woods.
A short while later we were back in the forest with endless deadfalls to climb over. The trail dropped to an old camping area near a waterfall. The campsite appeared to be unused for years. We stopped for lunch which we shared with clouds of mosquitoes and flies. Ryevita with peanut butter and jelly, gumdrops, and lots of filtered water from the stream. We couldn’t drink enough water.
Let me digress about loyalty among insects. I swat a mosquito on my pants. Its squashed carcass lies there 5 seconds before one of his black fly buddies swoops down for a meal. Great amusement on the trail.
After lunch it was back on the trail for hours of forest up and down – mostly up. By now I know we had missed the trail for Cataract Pass, if there ever was one.
Between sections of forest were wide meadows. Several of these were completely torn up, whole sections of ground churned and thrown about. Old deadfall pine trunks ripped open. Bear scat was everywhere. We rang our bells with every step and kept the pepper spray handy. Fortunately, we saw no bears, although I am unconvinced they didn’t see us. This torn up landscape was one reason we keep losing the trail – that had been torn up too.