Monday, October 11, 2010

North Fork Snoqualmie wanderings and other misadventures 10.11.10



     Well I try not to take myself too seriously and today is among the many reasons why. I added this map first because this day might have been more productive had I looked at it at some point. I usually am fortunate enough to get out on Tuesdays but this week I wouldn't be afforded that luxury. I work Sunday nights and have a hard time going home and going straight to bed enabling an early Monday morning start. I wanted to be available to the family in the late afternoon and as I stated didn't want to get up early. I needed something close and short. I have been meaning to make my way up Phelps for some time. It is a distinctive looking peak that can be clearly seen from Seattle. There is some confusion about the naming of the peak because most maps mislabel the peak McClain Peak which shares the same saddle but is to the SW. I have read enough reports of Phelps that I felt like I could make the round trip somewhere around 3 hours. The route is steep but it very direct. The plan was to do a variation of the Blackhawk mine route. I wanted to avoid the clear cut which I would expect slow wet and slippery going. The intent was to drive to the end of the spur road instead of heading to the mine. It is reported that the old growth starts there and there is far less brush. Well I had a plan..........

   I dinked around the house enough extra time to eat away any time cushion I might have. The North Fork Road has/is being recently graded so it was it fairly good shape allowing some extra speed. There were many work trucks in different areas but thankfully they didn't impede progress. As I reached the Blackhawk mine road I had expected it to be driveable. I couldn't remember anyone actually reporting that but I always thought it to be implied. I donned both my rain pants and coat and was able to walk the road for a short ways before entering the brush jungle. I kept expecting the road to open up but it was a mess of stout wet brush. It seemed to me that this road had been this way for some time so I deduced I may be on the wrong spur. I backtracked to the car and continued further up the road. I reached the Bare Mt trail and parked. For those of you that know the area I am sure that you are confused on what I was thinking. For those of you that do not I will save that for later.

  Wanting to climb something I thought I still had enough time to make Bare Mt.  Since I have fond memories of the area I thought it would be worthy alternative. This weekend heavy rains were very evident since water was running everywhere making the trail exceedingly slippery. As I neared the bridge less creek crossing I started to wonder about making it safely across. When I reached the creek two options presented themselves. Two smaller logs parallel to each other with a 4' water drop on one side or a large slippery log with a hanline provided. I certainly could have made the crossing and surely would have if I was climbing something that I hadn't been up already. I decided to instead returned to the road and walk passed the end of the driveable portion of the road. I had never been past the Anderson Lake trail and was curious what lay beyond. After about a mile I started thinking of the area peaks and suddenly a disturbing thought crossed my mind...... I wasn't even on the right road to access the Blackhawk Mine. I don't know what I was thinking about but I wasn't even in the right drainage. I had to laugh had my utter lack of sense. I hightailed it back to the car because I thought I could at least explore the mine area.

  I didn't even to change out of my boots as I retraced the road back to the junction and headed up the proper road. I passed the first spur road marked on the map and then was stopped by a log across the road. It appeared that I could have gone around it but I wasn't going to take any chance. Since the road was narrow I was forced to a 100 point turn that I only made 50 points before I rolled back and got my boot stuck long enough to prevent me from rolling my rear wheels into the ditch. I tried to gun my way out and my only success was filling the car with smoke from the burning clutch. I got out to survey the situation and it didn't look good. I knew that there were plenty of workers along the road with heavy enough rigs and equipment to easily pull the car out. I really didn't want to have to walk back and ask for help. Thankfully I always carry a stout snow shovel in the car. This shovel has helped me out of similar sticky situations so I got to digging. Thankfully the car was only slightly high centered and my first attempt to dig my way out was not successful. I soon realized that there was a rock impeding my progress and I feared the weight of the car wouldn't allow the rock to be extricated. Thankfully I was able to wiggle it free and use my ice axe to remove enough dirt from underneath the floorboards to allow safe passage. Once the car safely back on the road I let out a big cheer and changed clothes and more suitable footwear. Just to add spice to the return I was stuck behind a 3 dump trucks waiting to be filled. Thankfully after one was filled they let me pass and soon I was at home.

Approx 4 miles 500' of climb and one very memorable day

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