You’re not a backcountry veteran until you experience the utter uselessness of the Beckey guide, that moment when you realize you are not looking for a needle in a haystack because there is no needle. You begin to wonder if these so-called guide books are actually works of speculative fiction.
To wit: the fisherman’s trail contouring the east shore of Otter Lake in the West Fork Foss River drainage, drawn on the map of page 201 of Beckey’s Cascade Alpine Guide (Volume 1) is mythical. Dawn Chapel and I, on an aborted high traverse from the West to East Fork of the Foss, beat our way through the thorny salad of Devil’s Club and slide alder to reach the lake’s southern outlet. We burned the better part of a day bushwhacking a scant ¼ mile. A sufferfest, truly. Morale plummeted to its nadir when Dawn threw off her pack in frustration and prepared to hurl it down the gulley. I convinced her of the folly of this, which went well beyond a mere affront to Leave No Trace ethics.
The only saving grace was the dry-fly fishing. I landed cuttie after cuttie, including a girthy 12-inch coastal cutthroat, on a number 14 Royal Wulff.