After a good sleep, I made some coffee along with oatmeal and peanut butter for breakfast. I'd been looking for berries yesterday but there were none. I saw a single black bear print near some bushes, but no bear. A local fruit farmer told me that once the berries are getting sparse, the bears head down to the numerous apple, peach and pear orchards on the east slope of the mountain. This print was headed east, and so was I.
The next stretch of trail was some of the most exquisite scenery of the whole trip. A small winding trail led me towards Eden Park - a large meadow of grass, moss, heather and shrubbery - all watered by clear cool streams trickling down from the glaciers above and carving their way through rich peaty soil. The autumn colors were rich as well, burned reds, yellows and orange- all contrasted with silver-white bark of dead trees still standing after the Dollar Lake fire which burned thousands of acres on this south slope over a decade ago. I could spend a week camping here and no want to leave.
A side trip took me a mile and 600 feet up to McNeil Point. With views of Sandy Glacier, the mountain and east to Portland, it was well worth the time and sweat.
This small area is accessible by the four corners parking area only 4 miles west, or Tilly Jane Road 6 miles east. I made a mental note to come back in winter, on skis or snowshoes.
Eastward again for a few miles, Eventually the path headed right and in a southerly direction, headed towards Eliot Creek. Eliot creek, flowing from the glacier from which it is named, has been a treacherous spot since major landslides closed the trail eleven years ago. I was ready to climb up towards the Eliot Glacier and find a good route over the upper part of the creek, however, to my surprise and delight, I found a new trail. How new? It was announced to the press and opened that very day! The trail down to - and up from - Eliot Creek, is a work of trail engineering and art. The crossing at the bottom was easy and didn't even require wet feet.
Exploring Eden Park, McNeil Point (and stopping to drink at each main creek crossing) had used up most of the day. My phone/clock had run out of battery power, but I could see that the sun was about to dissapear over the mountain (which was now to my west), so I decided to stop for the day and I set up camp at a spot called Cloud Cap.
With unlimited water and no shortage of fallen wood, I made a good fire, got some hot water and soap on my dirty body - and washed my clothes. Two days of dust and sweat was starting to feel grimy, so it was nice to get clean and to dry clothes and shoes with the heat from the fire.
Another wonderful day and I slept a deep deep sleep that night.