Hiking · Local Adventures

Once Upon A Time In Monte Cristo

Long ago on a sunny late Fall day we took a hike to the ghost town of Monte Cristo. It was in that short moment of time before Seattle boomed. When the trails were empty. Life was quiet then. Social media didn’t exist. The concept of selfies was a decade away. It was so long ago the photos I took were on film.

Before the trails around Seattle became insanely busy.

We saw no one that day, as we hiked 14 or so miles.

The trail into Monte Cristo was then nothing more than the forest service-esque road. Gated, with access to those with land inholdings. The floods of 2003 and 2006 would bring damage.

Ford was little then. He had just turned 5. I let him ride in his jogger stroller, and hung my backpack off of it. I did that because I knew I could walk faster, and save his legs for the hike after the town.

I was hiking with Kirk that day. We had met a month or so before and had been on a number of hikes together. He was a foot taller than me, and I nearly had to jog to keep up with him. We had spent all these hikes getting to know each other.

The road walk went mercifully fast in. We followed the South Sauk River on our left, and at some point we crossed over the river on a then existing bridge rated for cars. There was a side creek not long after with a broken bridge over it.  It was jacked up in half. We walked through the creek easily enough. Now there lays a tree across the river to cross. From what I have read the river has shifted so the crossing is very easy in season.

Sections we walked through had been logged. Apparently logging trucks were allowed in the inholding areas. It was jarring. Parts of the road walk were pretty dismal.

Sometimes you looked down the road and you felt like a train might be showing up to haul off ore.

We passed the campground, and were at the townsite sign soon enough.

In those days a sturdy bridge over the river stood. It was big enough for the ATV’s used at the site, but not cars. Now I believe it is a log but I don’t know.

We left the jogger stroller at the bridge, there was a bike rack. I didn’t lock it up. I figured if someone stole it, they needed it more than me that many miles in.

The South Sauk is a pretty river, hurriedly coming down from the mountains. Looking downriver.

We crossed over the bridge. There was a second bridge a bit farther over another area. We wandered through the ghost town, checking out the lower and upper streets, and the buildings.

We found the trail to Glacier Basin and headed up.

The trail climbs along Glacier creek, towards the basin, hidden from view to the right-ish after Galciert Falls (which is in the lower middle of the photo).

We turned around at the top of the waterfall (Glacier Falls). We knew we’d not have enough daylight to make it back all the way if we went for the basin. But as well the trail gets a bit gnarly by the waterfall, and stays that way into the basin.

My oldest, he was 5 then.

Kirk was standing above the waterfall. With an avy chute behind him, across the creek, in the trees.

We turned back and had an easy hike back down to the town, crossed the river and Ford happily got into his jogger stroller. Even Kirk threw his pack under the stroller for the hike out.

The hike out was quiet, peaceful and as before, no other people were seen.

I decided on that hike out that maybe I liked liked him.


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