Snohomish woman remembers hikes gone by

  • Sharon Wootton / Outbound Columnist
  • Friday, October 20, 2000 9:00pm
  • Life

wIt’s always fun to hear from people who thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the natural beauty (and natural surprises) that the Northwest has to offer.

Evelyn Larson wrote that she enjoyed the recent Explore article on the Lakeshore Trail along Lake Chelan, a hike that she had done about 10 years ago with Cascade Corrals outfitters.

She had lagged behind the group while taking pictures.

“I suddenly heard this distinct rattle. I had never heard one before but I knew exactly what it was,” said the Snohomish resident.

“There at my feet by the side of the trail was this coiled snake. I felt the adrenaline rush to fight or flight but managed to slowly back away and wait for the snake to slither into the bushes.”

In August, Larson went with Cascade Corrals on a 40-mile hike from High Bridge on the Pacific Crest Trail to Cloudy Pass (6,438 feet), Image Lake, past Lyman Lake and out to Holden.

At 68, Larson was the oldest.

Tents and sleeping bags were packed in on horses.

“Our meals were prepared on a wood cook stove, also packed in. A forest fire was smoldering five miles away but there was a ride of rock and snow between and the fire so we were in no danger.”

The group stayed three nights at Cloudy Pass. One night after midnight, Larson was awakened by a rumble of thunder, then a second.

“I lay there hoping there wouldn’t be a lightning strike to start a fire,” she said.

When she realized no rain was falling, she looked out the tent window.

“The sky was clear and the stars were shining,” Larson said.

The thunder may have been a rock slide or avalanche.

About 4:30 a.m., still awake, she looked outside and saw that they were totally engulfed in a cloud.

“Ethereal and celestial. A beauty all of its own,” she said.

Larson met several backpackers along the way, representing a cross-section of singles, couples, families, and three men from New York who were there “to experience our Alps.”

She called the six-mile hike to Image Lake her “ultimate experience of hiking.”

“The meadows of wildflowers in bloom, rushing streams, billowing clouds in the blue sky, the warmth of the sun but feeling a gentle breeze and, of course, the compelling view of Glacier Peak.

“I’ve seen Glacier Peak from White Pass, Lake Byrnes, Buck Creek Pass, Flower Dome, Middle Ridge and Image Lake and it has always filled me with a reverence and gratitude to the Creator,” Larson said.

“I spent an hour in solitude at Image Lake. I remembered my family’s first backpack there 35 years ago,” Larson said.

“Since then my husband and a daughter died of cancer. But the majestic mountain still stands tall and I cherish my memories.”

In 1998, a whitewater kayaking team of four world-class boaters attempted to conquer what may be the biggest paddling challenge, a first descent of the Tibet’s virtually unrunnable Yarlung Tsangpo River in the world’s deepest gorge.

“The Last River: The Tragic Race for Shangri-La” ($24, Crown) is Todd Balf’s researched and smoothly written account of that ill-fated expedition, sponsored by National Geographic, in which paddler Doug Gordon died and team was turned back by the river.

Balf speaks at 10:15 a.m. Sunday at the Northwest Bookfest in the Stadium Exhibition Center, 1000 Occidental St. in Seattle.

The topic of his panel is “New Paths for Old Journeys: Modern Day Explorers.”

He speaks, signs books and shows a video at 7:30 p.m. at the University Bookstore in Seattle.

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