Ingalls Creek is open! After having had just a little taste a few years ago, I have been hoping to someday come back to complete it. As I scanned Washington Trail Association’s website to see what might be a “legal” hiking option for Memorial Day weekend, the recent backpacking trip report on Ingalls got me very excited. Even if you had to park your car somewhere besides the lot, it confirmed that dispersed camping was allowed. I did notice the hiker’s narrative made it very clear that THEY had followed ALL the rules…unlike those OTHER people:
“We had a lovely time except for the groups of day-hikers (that were clearly multiple households hiking together) who refused to strategize 6′ foot passing zones on Sunday, didn’t pull up a mask when passing, or even feign to respect Covid precautions.”
Wondering what it would look like to “feign” being precautious, I was a little concerned everyone on the trail would be grumpy Covid enforcers and I’d get yelled at for doing it wrong. (I simply face away from the trail when letting people pass. Continually trying to “strategize” a six foot passing zone on a tight two foot wide path throughout a six hour hiking day was not going to happen–I was sure of that.)
My friend and I (nope, not family…yep, we were already “those” people) were sure not to park directly in the lot as instructed–though parking along the one road leading to the lot did not feel all that precautious to either of us. (Maybe we were just “feigning” it?) We had our buffs at the ready to pull over our faces if anyone gave us dirty looks. (It’s true that neither of us are very convinced that wearing masks while outdoors is very helpful…though, we don’t want to make people uncomfortable either. And certainly, neither of us would EVER confront or tease someone wearing a mask. Being rude is never helpful.)
I have to warn you, whether you love it or hate it, the fact is that 99% of the folks we encountered on our three day adventure did not pull up masks, but just gave a smile and a nod and stepped aside when being passed. We did the same. Whether we are all being irresponsible or not, that is the current situation. Leigh and I tried to make up for being such bad citizens by picking up trash along the way, which I’m happy to say was very little. Since this was a longer trip, you can find the more detailed itinerary below if you are interested. Happy trails!
Day 1: Mid-morning start on Friday, arriving around dinnertime at an amazing site right on the “creek” (more like river this time of year) which was roughly nine miles in. We thought we might stop at the large site at the Falls Creek intersection at six miles, but we were hoping for something with more sun, since the weather was so amazing. From there, everything was taken, and we were a little worried we missed our chance. On the way out on Sunday, we saw there were actually several sites we simply didn’t see that were now occupied. EVERYTHING was taken in fact, which is understandable considering the holiday.
Day 2: A lazy start, as it was SO freezing (literally…I ruined my Sawyer filer by leaving it out) but once the sun hit our spot it warmed up quickly. The trail from here on up is a MESS. It made us wonder how on earth they are able to clear it all up every year, or if this portion has been neglected for some time. We left our stuff at camp and made it the three and a half miles to THE VIEW (so much better than either of us expected) and then the extra half mile to the Longs Pass intersection where snow was starting to make the trail difficult to follow. Maybe I’ll be able to finish that last mile and half another time. Some nice sites up there if you can make it that far, but navigating through that obstacle course with a full pack (we of course only had light day packs) would be quite the challenge. We saw one guy fall off a log from about six feet while trying to maneuver over a particularly bad jumble of fallen trees. He seemed fine (though clearly mad as a hornet) but the thought of how easily he could have been impaled by a broken branch made us travel even more carefully. Plus, upgrading our pretty pathetic first aid kits seemed something wise to consider for next time. After between seven and eight hours of hiking, we got back to our campsite around dinnertime again.
Day 3: After another leisurely morning, we said a sad goodbye to our lovely spot and hiked the nine miles back to the car in a much better time. (Four and a half hours I think?) The burgers at Heidleburger were amazing as usual.
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