Glacier Peak Wilderness Part 4: Upper Bannock to Buck Pass
Day 6 I woke refreshed and ready to continue southbound, legs and brain feeling fresher and more in synch than the previous day. The first task of the day was climbing over the divide and back down to the PCT. The route up and over the divide doesn't look obvious at first, but isn't particularly difficult, with bits of class 2 plus here and there, but nothing exposed. It still held a fair amount of snow, which I think actually helped the climb in a few spots. The view of Upper Bannock from the top of the climb was one of the trip's highlights.
The descent down to the PCT is very steep, and when it reenters the trees the footing becomes treacherous on the groundcover. I actually wound up wearing my spikes to try to gain a little more purchase on the heather, and wound up slipping quite a few times regardless. After a long monotonous decent I popped out onto the PCT and into a group of hikers. There is always a bit of an odd feeling returning to a well maintained and highly trafficked trail by bursting out of the brush and encountering well groomed and scented backpackers maybe a few hours or a day removed from their last brush with civilization. They asked me where I had been coming from, and I could tell by the looks on their faces the answer didn't satisfy as it didn't include any named trails.
For the next 6 or so miles I cruised along the PCT, which was in full flower. I'd actually hiked this section before, but much later in the season. It was fun to see it in at the peak of flowering, water tumbling everywhere from snow melt, and the surrounding peaks all still covered with snow.
I then took the trail across Middle Ridge towards Buck Pass, still making my way south and once again getting closer to Glacier Peak. I scooted through Buck Pass, which is extremely popular and crowded camping destination, and camped below it.
The following morning I hiked the Buck Creek trail out to the forest road that follows the Chiwawa River. It would have been a 28 mile day back to the car to resupply, but fortunately I was able to get a hitch in the back of a pickup, the only option for hitching in the midst of the covid pandemic. This knocked about 6.5 miles off my road walk. Given that I rose early in the morning and still had the zoomies from my rest day and walking on trail and on a forest road, I was able to knock off my 22 miles of hiking by early afternoon. I found a nearby motel to grab a shower and some town food.
Epilogue: I wound up with one extra night to kill, so the following day I hiked back up the Buck Creek trail, through Buck Pass, and camped up on Liberty Cap. This is a pretty stellar spot, with 360 views including Glacier Peak and the Entiat Crest.