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Day 9

Bailey Range 1996

Cream Lake to Upper Ferry Basin

We had effectively decided to blow off our planned layover day, and move up into the upper basin. This way, we could get 1000 feet of climbing out of the way for the next day, get to camp by noon, since the upper basin was only 1.5 miles away, and still have the afternoon to explore. We had a very leisurely breakfast, and started up the inlet stream. If you study the topo map carefully, you can see that there is a draw that is less steep than the others leading up into the basin. That's what we headed for, and we found the main way path there. Hey, we are not talking gentle here, just very, very steep, as opposed to so-horribly-steep-it-feels-like-a wall steep. We stopped about halfway up on a little saddle with nice trees. The saddle was awash in ripe blueberries, and we ate our fill. It was really nice to realize that we had the hardest part of the trip behind us, with just a few more major obstacles to go. By noon, we had reached a little knoll, which everyone exclaimed was the best, prettiest campsite that they had ever had.(Given the hundreds of nites in the backcountry that this group of five had spent, that was really saying something.) A small lake was below us to the east, we had some flat areas for tents, and a drop dead view of the Hoh Glacier on Olympus. We could look out and see the range we had come down over the last couple of days, and Mt. Ferry loomed behind us. The afternoon was warm, but the breeze was cool.

After lunch, Susie and I took off cross country to get a better look at the Hoh Glacier. The knoll for which we were headed seemed but a few hundred yards away, but it took us nearly 90 minutes to reach it. We attempted to traverse at constant elevation, but lovely creeks, waterfalls, and other topo "bumps" got in the way (a final look on the map suggested that the "few hundred yards" was closer to a mile or so. When we reached our target, we were disappointed to still have our view of the Hoh Glacier partially blocked by some tall trees, but we were rewarded by a view of the last few days' route, afforded by our more southerly position. The air had cleared, and we could see the upper cirque of Heart Lake Basin, the upper basin holding Cat Lake, the Catwalk, the first gully, and so on. What a sweeping vista! About that time, Will showed up, with the same goal as us. We turned around, and took the direct path back to our camp. We were treated to a glimpse of a bear just finishing up a swim in one of the lakes. He/she immediately shook itself off, and went back to its mission of consuming as many blueberries as possible. Susie and I got back in time to enjoy a dip in the lake below our camp, and did some major laundry. We went through a count and realized that we were now to the point where we did not have to do any beyond this afternoon: we now had an adequate stockpile of clean underwear, etc. It was one of those days that you want to never end: sunny, warm, but cool breezes, great views, the company of good friends, enough exercise to keep you from stiffening up, and food in your belly. It all seemed like magic.

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Roger A. Jenkins, 1996