|Horseshoe Basin (Andy Porter)|
This summer I charted a route over
On day one we schlepped up to
We made it to the trail junction with the spur to
The basin was aglow in the afternoon light, orange granite spires surrounding the lip-like fangs, too-numerous-to-count waterfalls glistening, their sparkling waters plunging down into the valley. There were wildflowers popping out everywhere, yellows and purples, reds and blues, all accenting the deep green of the basin floor.
The trail follows the stream up into the valley; it follows a course along the stream, across the stream and in the stream, brushy and wet. Shortly, the trail emerges into a clearing where boulders dot the basin floor. Climbing up on the largest, the view is transfixing. The green bowl is surrounded with grandeur, full of color and drama.
We hurried on, racing the sun, heading up the valley, climbing across boulders and scree, on to a snow field, up to the gaping hole of the Black Warrior Mine.
|View from the Black Warrior Mine|
The wonder of the place is still with me. Maybe it’s the history, all of the people who worked so long and hard here, digging and scraping for naught. Here, as in many of the North Cascade valleys, it was miners who blazed the trails that we now use to visit the high country. The road from Stehekin, long ago, came all the way to the mine entrance. Over time, nature has reclaimed the road, now vehicles can only go as far as High Bridge, 17 miles downstream.
The falling sun chased us out of the valley, and we camped at Basin Creek camp that night, then the next day, headed down the valley, east, toward Cotton Wood Camp.
The allure of fresh pastry made us alter course, and instead of heading up
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|Basin Creek (Andy Porter)|
Heading back up through Cottonwood and the upper valley on a bright summer’s day, with a welcome breeze, we crossed Basin Creek again and started up towards the pass.
It was early in the morning when we came back to the trail junction with the
The main trail coming down from
I lowered the camera and considered what to do. The bear was now at the trail junction, about 15 feet from me. She paused, considering her options. My friend and I both realized that she wanted to pass up the spur, trail to the basin, right past us!
|New friends on the trail|
Exulting in our good fortune, excited and energized, we finished our snack and followed her up the valley to the basin.
Tracing our earlier steps from a few days ago, we hiked up into the valley, but this time, not all the way to the mine entrance. I worked on my mostly futile efforts to capture the grandeur of the flowers, spires and waterfalls, and then we headed back down to our packs and stated the long climb up to