MIKE MacFERRIN'S OLYMPIC SOLO TREK....July 29, 2004
After passing several lakes on the snowfields and avoiding the discolored & pocketed snow, I finally reach the glacier proper. A crevassed icefall reveals itself ominously to me, and further down the valley I can see the frothing waters pouring out from under the glacier. Looking at the terrain, it's obvious I'm gonna have to cross this beast... it's much too steep to safely scramble down on this side. Regrettably having no ice-axe along, I carefully look for the narrowest, shallowest part of exposed ice. It looks solid, but I know that looks can be deceiving (glaciers have an uncanny habit of trying to eat you), and I pray to god that every step I take won't be my last. Luckily, the slope here is gentle, and enough pea-gravel coats the ice for traction. Within twenty minutes, I'm across the worst of it.
The route down the canyon alternates between snowfield and rockfield, and I amble downward, trying to avoid the worst of the snow bridges still arching over the river, melting away in the hot July sun. Eventually, rocks & snow give way to flowers & grasses, and even trees begin appearing once again as I continue further down the canyon. By 6:00 in the evening, I'm camped on a ledge (still ~800 feet above the river) exhausted again after another nerve-trying day. Looking at the map, I'm not far upriver from Service Falls, and I know that tomorrow, I just might have one last chance to get there. After what I've been through, I have to... I'd regret it for years if I didn't try.
So tonight, the nagging question remains... will I reach Service Falls tomorrow? Or will I be turned back once again, denied by the powers that be? My time is running short... it's already day 6, and I was hoping to reach the Upper Queets Basin (still several days off) by day 7 or 8. Tomorrow will be my last chance.