Vance Creek / by John Mooney

Part 1

Vance Creek Bridge

I've been up for 20+ hours traveling across the county and the acid I took in the parking lot is starting to hit me. The setting; the sporting goods section of Walmart in the mountains of Washington state. D and the elderly employee are discussing state laws and blah, blah, blah... long story short, we aren't getting a shotgun for our late night hike. Which is actually pretty worrisome considering we are about to enter bear, wolf, and cougar country. I decided to get a glass 40oz as a last line of defense. Can take the kid out of Quincy and you know the rest.

I guess this use to be a quick hike. Not anymore. Now it's an endurance test. 3 miles of intensely varying elevation on loose dirt logging roads. All on private property. All patrolled regularly. Also guarded by the two cougars that were eyeing us half way into our hike from about 60 feet away in the tree line. For the majority of our hike we were seeing eyes in the trees. Typically pretty small. All of them instantly spooked by the flashlights. I had ditched my 40oz a half mile back. It was pointless. I was sweating more than the alcohol I was taking in. So I'm armed to teeth with nothing but my altered wit and a small machete, when my flashlight scanned across the first set of large cat eyes. I stopped dead in my tracks and so did D. Then the second set of eyes looked up.

At this point I'm ready to get the fuck out of there. I said to D, " That's it man. This is too sketchy. I'm ready to go back.". He convinced me to go forward, and I am always grateful for that. He had his insanely bright streamlight on them both and we went at them. Before I got a couple feet closer they both scattered and took off into the heavy brush on the mountainside. Alright, just a mile or two left. 

Long hikes with camping and camera gear is never an easy thing. I will forever suck at minimizing my weight for camera gear. It is what it is. It all might get used, so it all comes. The pain is part of the process that makes the product pure. Now, I don't remember exactly how long the hike took us but it felt like most of our vacation to me. Our East Coast brother @rmp_ryanmello had just done the trip solo the week before us and provided a detailed map to our destination on the south side. Thank you my man. I left you machete in Seattle. My bad.

Coming up on the bridge in the dead of the night was extremely misleading. You feel the breeze moving through the massive valley but couldn't really get a grip on the size of it. Almost instantly upon finding the tracks, I had my pack off and started heading out. The cold night air on my sweat soaked back felt amazing. It was just about morning on the east coast and I was starting to come down. I set up my hammock tent right across the tracks at the base of the Vance Creek bridge. The most amazing camping site I've ever had. And we earned it. 

The next morning I took my morning piss 340 feet in the air with a legal joint in my mouth. America!..or something like that. I walked back to the tent, washed my hands with purell & wetwipes. Grabbed the only small bag of trail mix I brought with me because I was so afraid of bears and headed back out to soak in the view while D was still sleeping. 

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