Chewack River to Long Swamp
Saturday, September 9 While it had been starry all night, by the time 6:15 came around, the clouds had set in again. Sue left camp first, before 7:30 am, with Diane and Tim right behind, and Ray following shortly. Andy had opted to stay behind and break camp, so for a change, Susie and I were not the last folks out of camp. While the trail down the river was in pretty good shape, we think that had it not been raining so much, it could be a real dust bowl. The tread undulates over little hummocks, so it is not flat. The trail below last night's camp did not offer many spots to camp, so it was good that we had stopped where we did. After our rest break, Susie and I came to a wonderful campsite, all nice and grassy. A couple, who were llama packers out of Spokane, were on a busman's holiday, and we talked for a while about llama packing. It was not hard for me to learn a lot, because I knew nothing. Andy caught up to us about this time, and we hiked together until we got to the trail junction. There seemed to be a number of names for this trail, one of which I recall being Chewack Driveway (suggesting it's a sheep route) but no matter. The trail takes off exactly where we expected it to, at 716715 East, 5418179 Northing. Susie and I stopped to adjust clothing for the steep climb. I had been hopeful that I could, for the first time on the trip, be able to hike in a short sleeve shirt, but no luck: it was still way too cold for such.
It was 10:21 am when we started the uphill route. The trail does not quite follow the same route as marked on the map: there are switchbacks where the topo maps shows none, and none where the map shows them. But one thing is certain, the trail climbs very steeply, even with the switchbacks. Really steeply. We had been spoiled by easy grades all week, and now, we were paying. But eventually, the trail levels out, and after a near-stroll through open timber, finally climbs to the trailhead, which we arrived at around 11:55 am. So despite the steepness, we had covered the two-mile straightline distance from junction to trailhead in pretty good time. Andy was waiting for us, but no one else was there. Apparently, George had been waiting for Ray, and faced with the long drive back to Seattle and a very early morning flight on Sunday, neither wanted to wait around for pleasant goodbyes. Susie and I put on our polartek jackets and hats, and munched on lunch, but I noticed Andy wasn't eating anything. I asked him why not, and he replied that Sue had all the lunch food, and of course, she was running the car shuttle. Since we had plenty of lunch stuff left, it seemed like the friendly thing to do to share. We were soon rewarded for our Good Samaritan approach to hiking by having Tim, Diane, and Sue show up with the vehicles, the former stocked with an adequate supply of cold beer (Could anything left in the vehicles have been warm given the weather this past week??).
© Roger A. Jenkins, 2000