It is Friday morning the next to the last day of this stay at the trailer. We don't have much planned today but one thing on our list this trip was going up the to Stevens Pass summit to hike a trail built from the old Great Northern Railroad bed. It is cold, but there is no rain and the weather appears to be breaking, at least for now. We load up our gear and head up the mountain. Apparently this trail is flat and easy enough for an old man with knock knees to walk. There are three trail heads, two are accessible from Highway 2. While we didn't plan it, we ended up at the Martin Creek Trail head and using the lower grade trail we walked roughly two miles down towards the Interpretive Center. Our walk took us just past mile mark 1719.
This is an impressive trail. The volunteers who worked on this road bed did a fantastic job of bringing together a walk in the forest with the history of the rails that crossed the Cascades in the early years. There are real remnants of the old tunnels and some objects laying around. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip on this trail. Less than 100 years ago this was an active rail. Tunnels overgrown with vegetation as nature takes back what is hers. It is a walk into the past. A time when men by the sweat of their brow and the strength of their backs dug tunnels, dropped trees, cleaned brush, prepared a road bed, laid ties, put down rail and added ballast.
One of the quotes you read as you walk the trail is from James J Hill, founder and CEO of the Great Northern Railway, Empire Builder. It states, "I will make my mark on the face of the earth and no man will ever wipe it out." He forgot about mother nature who made this road bed an extremely dangerous way to cross the Cascades and it was eventually left as another, safer route was found. The history of this route is available in a PDF file at http://www.irongoat.org/guidebk.html
We intend to walk the whole trail in the coming months.
I'll let some of the pictures speak for themselves.