Public Lands Stewards: Working in Paradise

by | Land Stewards

As a Wilderness trails ranger with the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, I have the great privilege of working in the Glacier Peaks Wilderness. Now that I’m more than a third of the way through the season, I’d like to share some highlights. As its name suggests, the Glacier Peaks Wilderness is characterized by steep, heavily forested valleys and streams, alpine lakes and meadows, and dozens of glaciated peaks. In fact, within the half-million acres that comprise it, the Glacier Peaks Wilderness contains about half of all the glacial ice in the entire Lower 48! For any lover of trees, rocks and ice, the Glacier Peaks Wilderness is paradise!

On a recent patrol, I explored Holden Lake and it’s awe-inspiring environs (shown in the top left corner of the map on the right). From Holden Pass, the imposing northeastern flanks of Bonanza Peak rise to its summit at over 9,500 feet, making it the tallest non-volcanic peak in Washington. Looming in the distance about 14 miles away is the snowy cap of Glacier Peak, which stands over 10,500 feet tall.

On my next hitch, I traveled further west up the Railroad Creek valley to Lyman Lake, and then connected to the Pacific Crest Trail by way of Cloudy Pass. The scenery from Cloudy Pass is extraordinary – never before have I seen such extensive alpine meadows and rocky peaks in one place.

Experiences such as these remind me of how fortunate I am to serve as a Public Lands Steward. However, it’s not all about the scenery! Until this most recent hitch, I’d never hiked any of the Pacific Crest Trail during peak season. It was interesting to see the shift from a relatively low-use area (south of Cloudy Pass) to the ‘Agnes Creek corridor’ section of the PCT, where we saw upwards of twenty hikers per day. And so I’ve also recognized the importance of my work in maintaining the trails and campgrounds in this increasingly popular area.

On my upcoming hitch, I’ll be on my first solo patrol, which will be the subject of my next blog post. Stay tuned!