UPWC: Easy Pass to Colonial Creek

UltraPedestrian Wilderness Challenge (UWPC)

Presenting a guest post on trail running by K, of General Tso’s Chicken blog fame.


5:47:00 Elapsed Time
2 Strava segments (GPS watch was a shame first 20 miles, Switched to iPhone Strava track when watch froze)
1 GPS watch that lost signal about 20 miles in
1 Finish photo
2 liters of water, 2 consumed
7 Clif Bloks, 4 consumed
2 Stroopwafels, 0 consumed
2 Clif Bars, 0 consumed
1 Spam musubi, 1 consumed*
1 Lovely Wife to drive me to Easy Pass (pictured to the right and owner of this blog)



Trip Report

Inspired by friends undertaking longer and longer trail runs and a recent read of Scott Jurek’s North, I identified Easy Pass as a nicely laid out route and excellent introduction to the UltraPedestrian Wilderness Challenge.  With a supportive community behind me, I convinced my wife (pictured above, you probably have to scroll back) into a wet camping adventure in the North Cascades and off we went.

Three lessons learned from Saturday’s run:

Unless it’s snowing outside, you should wear shorts.

Wife and I were lucky enough to snag a campsite at Colonial Creek Friday night.  By lucky I mean, fully expected since it was supposed to rain the entire weekend and pretty cool by this Summer’s standards.  Decided on a sit down Teriyaki joint on the drive up for dinner. Why, because we were in a hurry, oh wait, Teriyaki isn’t fast food.  Arrived at Colonial Creek after dark, see sit down Teriyaki, quickly set up the tent and went to bed.

Woke up about an hour before sunrise.  Enjoyed a Starbucks via, Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oatmeal and a S’mores Pop Tart.  As I waited for the water to boil for the aforementioned Starbucks via and Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oatmeal, felt a little chilly and made the decision to wear pants.  I had packed shorts with the intention of wearing them but the pants felt comfy during breakfast.

Did I mention my wife was lovely?  She was nice enough to drive me to the Easy Pass trailhead from Colonial Creek, all while dealing with my jokes about trail safety (note, these jokes are only funny to you, not to your significant other).  

My luck, weather was great, even patches of sun!

View from Easy Pass

As I had future visions of a day full of dry socks and a deeper tan, I quickly saw the folly of my ways.  Every fern, blade of overgrown grass, and fall painted bush, was dew/rain covered. Each stride brought weight to my pants and moisture to my socks.  Should have worn shorts.

Signing into the register
You pack too much fuel.

Packed 2 liters of water and the water filter (which never ended up being used).  Between Bloks and Bars, I was predominately Clif powered, with the exception of two special treats, Spam Musubi* and Stroopwafels.  Original plan was to consume the Stroopwafel at the top of Easy Pass, as a sort of victory celebration, and the Spam Musubi when I got hungry.  Maybe it was the beautiful views or the cooler weather but I felt pretty good when I reached the route high point and skipped the Stroopwafel.  At mile 12, I decided to buy into the route more and delay my spam fueled gratification until mile 13. Hit mile 13 and decided to delay a little more until a nice sitting spot and found one near Thunder creek.  During my mountaineering trips always found myself leaning too much into sweet snacks, so Spam Musubi was a pleasant departure from the routine.  It tasted delicious.

Spam musubi

Best part was that I got to taste the Spam Musubi* with the subsequent indigestion induced burps the rest of the trip. Wait that wasn’t a plus.  I speculate that it was brought on by the two-day old rice pebbles and mayo slathered spam. Remind me to bring something milder next time.

With the delayed gratification, agreeable weather and spam fueled calories, had plenty of leftovers to share with the wife back at Colonial Creek.  Jumping forward a bit, she did not eat any of the Clif Bloks or Clif Bars, instead electing to eat campfire cooked bratwurst, falafel and chicken patties. Can’t blame her. 

The leftovers
The NPS and/or NFS make excellent bridges. 

Likely poor research on my part, but I had pictured creek crossings to be simply large felled trees that hikers identified to be adequate for crossing the frigid waters.   My expectations were far too low.  All the water crossings were easy.  Fast moving or deep water crossings were covered by well engineered bridges.

Thunder Creek bridges (links to a video on flickr)

Other than all the water gifted to my pants by the trail side foliage, trail was friendly and very well maintained.  Switchbacks on the way up Easy Pass were (avoiding a pun) simple to spot.  With the thunderous creek as an excellent handrail, it was (still avoiding a pun) simple to navigate to Colonial Creek.  For my first UPWC excursion, it was a blast.


*Spam musubi: in this instance, due to work time crunch, the musubi was procured from a local udon shop in Seattle. For a legit home-made version, check out a previous FWW post on homemade spam musubi.

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