Archives for the month of: July, 2017


The Summit Trail runs along the Sawtooth Ridge on the north shore of Lake Chelan for thirty miles at an average elevation of 6000 ft.  I hiked it over the weekend for at least the fifth time.  I first hiked it in 1974 when I was newly arrived in Chelan and fell in love with it.  July is the peak season for wildflowers up there.  Strangely, I met only a Forest Service trail crew along its entire length.  It was snow-free so snow wasn’t the problem.  I guess fewer people are backpacking these days.

Access has always been a problem for the Summit Trail – especially this year when the best access, the Black Canyon Road, was badly damaged in a flash flood.  Even when that road is in service, getting to the trail is a logistical headache.  I chose to ride the passenger boat Lady of the Lake II to the mouth of Prince Creek and hike up that trail to the Summit Trail.  The Prince Creek Trail is poorly maintained and the day was hot.  If the prize awaiting me had not been so alluring I think the heat and the bugs would have outweighed my enthusiasm and I would have turned around and gone home.  I was dead tired when I finished the 6000-ft climb at 8 PM.  It was all I could do to set up my tent, un-roll my sleeping bag and conk out.  I was even too tired to eat!

A long romp through meadow after meadow of wildflowers the next day made it all worthwhile.  Check out these photos:


The weather cooled considerably the second night and a howling wind at tiny Juanita Lake nearly toppled my tent.  My hands went numb from the cold when I packed my gear in the morning.  The National Park Service, which is responsible for the trail from Juanita Lake to Stehekin, is also woefully remiss.  That trail was overgrown in many places.

Even so, it will take more than overgrown trails and washed out roads to keep me from The Summit Trail.

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A funny thing happened in America during my lifetime – Americans have come to abhor physical labor. I first became aware of this twenty year years ago during the years I built stone walls. Lifting stones all day and fitting them into walls definitely qualified as physical labor. To be completely honest, I wasn’t crazy about the dirty, sweaty part of the job but the freedom to be my own boss and the more-than-adequate remuneration the work brought me made it something of a dream job for me. One thing I learned during those years was that a lot of people can’t imagine doing hard physical labor. Many was the time when a client would say something like “How can you do this work!” You would think I was laying my life on the line from the tone of their voices.
Driving home after a day’s work I would make a mental note of who was doing what and sure enough, very few Americans today do anything to raise a sweat on their brow. Who’s doing the hard work around Wenatchee, WA? – Mexicans.
I’m retired now from the rock business – living off the fat I stored up during my Rockman years. But I was kinda bored a few weeks ago and after reading that one of my neighbors was looking for someone to do some brush clearing on his land I offered my services. He accepted my bid. It was a good day’s work and my back ached at day’s end but I made more money in a day than I could make working all week at Walmart (about the only option open to a 67-year-old dude without career credentials.) I put out the word through our community email chain that I was “a gun for hire” and I got five takers. Every job I bid, I got. Hard work, good money.
Frankly, I don’t get it. I would much rather be outside pulling brush and mowing weeds than stuck in an office. Am I some kind of oddity? Why do most people find physical labor so repugnant?
The fact is, they do. Good for Mexicans. Good for guys like me.