The clouds still hang low in the sky,
masking off the mountain crests. At the town of Goldbar I turn north,
turning again onto smaller roads. May Creek and Reiter Roads wind
eastward to Index. I climb into the clouds and the quiet. On this
weekday, there are really no cars here. People with places to go stick
to the Highway and what sounds there are here are the sounds of wind
and water: the river tumbling over it's stony bed, a light breeze that
barely rustles the leaves. Occasionally I'll hear my own breathing on a
climb or the buzz of my bike's freewheel as I descend.
At Index the road turns more north than
east, following the north fork of the Skykomish River. The old mining
roads mostly follow the river courses into the high country and every
few miles smaller streams tumble in from even higher places.
Index-Galena Road connects Index with a memory. The names of places
like Galena, Silver Creek and Mineral City are now reminders of times
when men and women were here, looking for great wealth and mostly
finding something else. The old road along Silver Creek is closed now,
a rock slide several years ago sealed the northern reaches of the creek
away from anything with four wheels. But the old mines are still up
there and the remnants of the old road leads to to the old town site of
Mineral City. And if the books and maps I've seen are accurate, still
further north an old miner's trail crosses Poodle Dog Pass and leads to
the ghost town of Monte
. But that will have to be another trip for another day.
It's raining lightly now and getting on
toward the time I should start looking for a place to camp. The
campgrounds don't officially open for another
few weeks. The larger campground at Troublesome Creek had "Road Closed"
signs across the entrances but many smaller sites along the river are
empty and inviting. The San Juan Tent Campground is also completely
vacant today. I have my pick of spots and I pitch my tent next to a big
is a lightweight shelter from rain and insects. I've been really
impressed with this tent. It packs up super small and is very quick to
How big is the Tarptent? It's big enough. Here's a self-portrait of my
feet. The glare is the reflection of my camera's flash off my
Here's another self-portrait of me settled into the Tarptent.
The Skykomish River is just a few steps
from my tent site. I slept very, very soundly. I did wake up once in
the middle of the night and was amazed at how very dark the night was.
On clear nights in the mountains, often the moonlight and stars shine
very bright but on this night the cloud cover is complete and I can
detect no difference between having my eyes open or shut!
The Skykomish River.
It's misty in the morning. After breakfast I pack up camp. Before
I take a few more pictures of the campground.
Tiny flowers grow alongside the moss at the base of the big trees.
Tiny creeks tumble down from the high country.
The morning sun will burn off the mist eventually. This is a quiet
section of the river, a respite before the terrain climbs again up to
At the crest of Jack Pass, the mist makes everything ghostly and
Back on the Highway 2, which is the big road in this part of the world.
East of Index there is the Espresso Chalet and the Bigfoot Park. I stop
for a latte and a picture.
A friend of mine once asked me if I
believe in Sasquatch, the creature also known as Bigfoot. Like Fox
Mulder and many others, I want to believe. I also think that our
ability to conceive of attractive fictions is very strong and that it
is most likely that what we think of as the Sasquatch is as fictional
Fox Mulder himself.
Is there something large and strange and wild and unknown up in rugged
mountains north of the town of Index, Washington? I know there are
mists that swirl ghostlike through the trees, rivers that will tumble
down steep hillsides and mountains that rise into places where men
will never walk. Are there also creatures out there whose lives are
wilder than ours? Of course. Squirrels, bears, raccoons,
porcupines, frogs, fish and more bugs and birds than we will ever
ultimately catalog. But something big and wild that still somehow looks
like us? Bigger, stronger, wilder; something more at home in a rugged
world beyond the reach of pavement and cell phones and a nagging sense
I don't know if there is a Sasquatch. I hope that there is and
I like to think that he is out there. I like knowing that there are
wild places, places that we can glimpse through strange mists, a rugged
home for a more rugged version of ourselves.
We can visit these places, we can make little claims on the land and
adapt ourselves with clever jackets and lightweight tents. We can even
be somewhat at home there. But ultimately, we are passing through. We
come back to the latte stands and the parks with picnic tables and then
to solid roofs and walls.
And the land remains. Streams tumble down and stones soon cover the
roads we've abandoned. I hope Sasquatch is out there. And I hope we
never find him.