- “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn” – John Muir, 1901.
It had been quite some time since I had been up on 7 Mile Saddle; the views of the Chilkat Range and glaciers, the Lynn Canal, Coast Range, and the craggy peaks NE of the upper Chilkoot River are catastrophically fantastic. The saddle itself, a series of alpine meadows interspersed with bouts of tundra and stunted Mountain Hemlock and Spruce. The summit of Peak 3920 lie just above, and all within a couple hours hike from the Haines Highway. The stomp up to the saddle although only about three miles, but gains over 2800 feet in that short distance, meaning it is a very steep stomp indeed. Having only weekends to utilize these days, and wanting to maximize my training for the upcoming Sanford Expedition, I decide that a fast overnighter to 7 Mile is in order; I’ve never camped up there before, but had always wanted to, so I load up the pack with the intention of not going light, but instead loading it up rather stoutly for “training” purposes. Camera gear, tripod, lenses, binoculars, more food than I could possibly eat, and a bit of wine to enjoy the alpenglow with.
The weather is nothing short of spectacular on this mid September day; a time in Haines that generally exhibits pouring rain and temps in the mid 30’s, producing brutal conditions. Not today – the sun is out and the sky is serene. I stomp up to 7 mile with the relatively heavy pack, stopping often to take in the views and use the camera. Once on top, a fine camp is found amongst the tundra overlooking the commanding Chilkat Range, with the sun setting and the glow becoming me. The temperature drops and supper is prepared as darkness envelops the landscape; soon I am in my down cocoon, eye lids glued shut, and generating Z’s. In the morning dawn, the temperature is hovering around 20 degrees F and I am up firing the stove for water and coffee. The early light splattering the glaciers on the other side of the Chilkat Vally is awe-inspiring and soon I am packed and dashing down the trail… Back to the truck by 8:30 am, the sun is shining brightly once again, promising another rare Autumn day of golden