Twelve of us Seniors headed up I-5 and onto the North Cascades Highway to start our trek up the Swift Creek Trail. I should have read this before we headed out (from Hiking Whatcom County by Ken Wilcox):
Despite some recent trail work, portions are difficult, overgrown, and hard to follow. A foot log with cable handline was in place at Rainbow Creek in mid-2006, but a critical bridge was missing at Swift Creek, two miles above Rainbow. Experienced hikers may be able to ford at lower water in mid- to late summer. Check conditions beforehand.
Well, you guessed it: when we got to Swift Creek, there was no way to continue, so we stopped and had an early lunch at Swift Creek and then headed back. One of our hikers had done quite a bit of work on the trail this summer, so he knew where the trail actually veered from the older trail to a more reasonable one. Here's our lunch spot:
A total of about 5 miles round trip. With time to spare, we decided to hike up to the natural hot springs and found a man in the springs (not very hot, if you ask me) who said he had been there all day and was cleaning out the bottom. We then headed back to the cars. After some discussion, we decided to try and find the trail to Rainbow Falls, which started out at a very obviously overgrown trail. Some decided to skip this excitment, while the rest (some of us were afraid we would miss a good picture) bushwhacked through brush and fallen logs for about a half-mile before turning around and heading back down, all without a view of the falls. All in all, I'm counting the day as somewhere near 7 miles. I didn't re-injure my leg and was careful when bushwhacking that nothing hit the left shin. This picture was taken at the "hot" spring.
Although we had no view from the trail, Swift Creek was truly awesome, and the clouds and the colors in the trees were also very lovely. The trail winds through mossy and very beautiful country. Sometimes the ground sprang back at me; it was like walking on a mattress. But the best views were from the parking lot!
At this time of year, the trees on the hillside look almost like they are on fire. Although they are a little past their peak, I was so happy to get this picture before we headed home. At least I only missed one week and will be there for the last hike in the High Country next Thursday.