It's getting colder here. I sleep with my down jacket and a hat every night. The days are shorter, and the sun stays lower, letting the steep hillsides trap the frigid air.
A chorus of elk bugles has been following us this morning, echoing off the hills. Have you ever heard the sound? It's mix between the sound a car makes screeching to a stop, and a lousy, but confident, greenhorn bugle player. Beautiful if you know what it is, ominous if you don't.
Around 10 am, we finally saw the sun as it crested over the nearest nolle. But before we could enjoy its warmth, we were jolted by the sudden pounding of hooves. Maybe a hundred feet below, ran a large herd of doe elk, making way for something.
Then a knock of bone on bone. Two large bull elks met in the opening below our feet. They pushed each other across 50 feet of space back and forth, back and forth, grunting, and wheezing. I remember forgetting to breathe.
Later in the day, I called Fred. As unpredictable as I try to live my life, he knew exactly where we were. "I bet you're pretty close to Mount Rainer National Park by now." Somethings, like the intuition of a dad, never stop. We called to catch up, and of course since this trail was drawing to a close, to plan our next trip.
For lunch, we ate at the road. There were amenities, like picnic tables, trash cans, bathroom stalls, and people watching. Two miles later we met Marty, Janet and their fluffy labradoodle dog by an alpine lake. They gave us fruit, meat, cheese, chips, and artichoke dip. Fine people, with good taste in snacks.
That night, we climbed up to a pass with a great view, where we could see Crystal Ski Resort, and camped in Martinson Gap on the other side.