You would think that after all that climbing the rest of the day would be easy downhill, right? Ha ha ha ha ha! Oh, no, the meanest miles never, ever give up. The rest of the journey to Happy Camp was difficult, involving more snow and more rock fields.
The first big challenge is the snow field after Crater Lake. One false step and you will slide right down into the frigid waters! Snow is a terrain I’m good on and I felt very confident as I slowly worked my way down. The guides, however, mistook my caution for fear and were rather ‘encouraging’ and ‘helpful’. I just shrugged it off as I took one crunching step after another, relishing the familiar footing and still savouring the victory that was the summit.
Even though it was still foggy, it was obvious that we had crossed over into another world. The landscapes began to change very quickly, with more and more greenery popping up around the snow and rocks. There were still no trees, however, as we were well above the treeline.
We had a packs off break about an hour from camp and then trudged on eager to reach the hot meal the guides promised us. Just twenty minutes or so out from camp, one of the guests had an unbelievable accident, something this person should have not survived, much less walked out of with only very minor injuries. It took some time to get going again and I am grateful that we were able to. Someone was looking out for this person!
I don’t know if it was the extra rest, the adrenaline, or just good pacing on my part, but I took point after this incident and pretty much bounced all the way to Happy Camp with energy I must have magically conjured up. When I got a first glimpse of camp, I had to stop for a second and make sure it wasn’t a mirage before whooping. The long day wasn’t over yet as there was still quite a bit of difficult terrain to traverse before we entered the confines of Happy Camp and were able to drop our packs on our chosen tent platform.
Happy Camp was very beautiful, set on rocks and surrounded by snow fields, but I found it to be a lot of work. To get to the ‘kitchen’ and outhouses, my tentmate and I had to cross two streams over slippery rocks. But I sure wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth. After a solid twelve hours on the trail, Happy Camp was just that, a very happy place to be!
I had carried part of dinner over the pass, so I quickly set up camp and then went down to the kitchen to give the guys my food sack. They made us some yummy teriyaki noodles with cashews, fresh snap peas, and fresh lime juice. I’m normally a bottomless pit on such treks, but this day I was a bottomless bottomless pit! I have no idea how many calories I had burned since the summit, but my three bowls of noodles weren’t gluttony!
Dessert was amusing. Not sure what time we’d be getting into camp, the guides jokingly packed ‘After Eight’ chocolates for us. They had been in the bottom of my pack since day one and were very smooshed. Giggles and laughs ensued as we tried to separate the chocolates and peel off the wrappings, each method more messy than the last.
The hardest day on the Chilkoot Trail was over and as I journaled before bed while sipping on ginger tea I wondered what challenges lay ahead, certain that I could overcome any of them. After all, I had ‘conquered’ the Pass!
Again, more about this section of the trail can be found in my ebook about the Chilkoot. 🙂