Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cole Butte West 5502' 7.26.11

While this wasn't the objective at the beginning of the day it was a good day out. I had hoped for a long day in the Salmon La Sac area but when the rain showed on Monday I wasn't able to get the new pup out to stretch his legs. I am hoping to build his endurance up slowly since he already has a misshaped hip. I did get the the all clear from the vet but I still think it best to break him in slowly. Since I wasn't able to get him out on Monday I thought I would take him out on Tuesday instead. I was looking for something around the 8 mile mark hoping that wouldn't be too much. I settled on Goat Peak outside of Easton. I was able to find a couple reports but none of the description of the jump off points matched what I was seeing. I instead headed up the road to Cabin Mt instead. I was off my map so I was just winging it. I made a couple of turns on road that proved to be too much for the Subaru. I came to one last junction and chose the less traveled road. There was a nice wide spot in the road so I pulled over and parked even though the road was still passable.

  I was excited to get the new dog on a hike and debated on the way up if I was going to leash him or not. I decided to let him run free while I was getting packed. He did run down the road but each time he came back when I called. I made my way up the steep logging road with my new partner taking his place in front of me. In the first 5 minutes he mastered the two commands I use most, "front" and 'water' when I want him to drink. I was very pleased that he seemed to already have the love for what I do and understood what he was to do. I continued on the road really with no destination in mind. My goal for the day was merely to work with the dog and if any summits were reached that would be a bonus. Eventually I ended up at the termination of the road. I saw a meadowy area that looked like an easy way pathway through the wet new growth of trees. Thankfully the new trees were planted with enough spacing that I didn't get drenched.. To the West was an area of second growth that was left standing. I angled to this more open forest and was rewarded with easy going to the ridgeline. Bosco seemed to be enjoying himself and was making his way easily cross country. He doesn't seem to have a lot of jump in his legs and was forced to go around some of the blowdowns. Once on the ridgeline I hit a trail that I had hoped would be there. I followed this West bypassing a few high points before settling on 5502' as being the highest.

  There were no views so I backtracked along the trail and gave some thought on continuing East to see if I could top out on some more of ridge high points. I decided to instead to explore a logging sput that descended to the road that I used for my approach. I knew it wouldn't reach it but I figured it may cut down the amount of cross country in the wet brush. At the end of the spur I was able to find some easy going to return to my approach road. Once on the road I continued a mile further East to see if I could find any trails leading to the ridge. Once the road started descending I lost interest and headed back to the car. While the day wasn't exactly as I had drawn up it did leave me very pleased that my fear of Bosco not being able to climb with me may be unfounded.

Approx 5miles 1500' of climb 2:15 car to car.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Holder Ridge 951' (Taylor Mt. Forest)

After losing my faithful partner last week and the same day his replacement joining the household I was emotionally spent. For me the best way to combat a heavy heart is to find comfort in my routine. With the kids out of school Monday is my family hike day and I thought it a good way to break in the new pup. The kids wanted to head up to the "princess towers" on Squak Mt., but that plan was foiled by the locked gate at the park. I am guessing the closure is a cost cutting move which makes me laugh since they just added all kinds of new signage drawing attention to the park. Maybe that money would have been better spent on actually keeping the park open. I have wanted to explore the Taylor Mt. for some time so I thought this a better option. We parked at the area just past the underpass of Hy. 18.

   I leashed Bosco and had to laugh at my oldest since she insisted on bringing her pink scooter. My guess is that she now has the first ascent of Holder Ridge via pink scooter. We followed the trail crossed the road and then went up the Holder Ridge Trail. The trail is still muddy with the recent rainy weather and there is quite a bit of foliage to contend with. I wouldn't want to do this after a rain unless you like getting wet. We wound our way up to the ridgeline, even catching a glimpse of the Columbia Tower. The kids enjoyed the regional views of the houses and farms in the area. I was tempted to let the dog off the leash but with two kids along and really not knowing what he would do I thought the better of it. After cresting the ridge we had a M&M break before continuing on the trail. The trail descends and then meets the junction with the Holder Knob trail. I really wanted to have the kids continue but I thought that might be asking too much for their little legs. We instead followed the connector trail to the gated logging road and had a nice mile long amble back to the car.

  After a wonderful day out I turned my thoughts to the next day. Originally I had hoped to take the dog out for something a bit more substantial. I knew he wouldn't be up for a normal day of mine but I thought he could muster a pared down day. That night I could tell his feet were a bit sore from the day so I bagged taking him the next day. When I awoke I just couldn't inspire myself to head out. The thought of heading out solo and without a dog just didn't seem appealing. While most of my days in the hill are without human companionship I have rarely gone out without a dog. It just wouldn't have felt right. I am hopeful with a few more outings Bosco will be able to join the ranks of the stellar climbing dogs that I have owned. I guess only time will tell.

   The dog has certainly been a blessing with the dealing with sudden and unexpected loss of the family dog. While it only has given me minimal comfort it has been a great distraction for the rest of the family. I am thankful for this because it has enabled me to deal with the loss without having to be concerned with the how the rest of the family is dealing with it. It seems so surreal for me to think about the way things have unfolded.  Wasn't it just 2 weeks ago when Tanner managed to unlock himself from his crate, open the hotel door and somehow make it down 3 floors and out 2 sets of double doors in an effort to find his family? Wasn't it 3 weeks ago that Tanner made his way along the lake because I wouldn't let him in the boat full of children I was giving a tour of the lake. Wasn't it Tanner who then swam the entire length of the lake to make his way home. I have to laugh now when the kids of the lake ask "where's the dog who swam across the lake". Wasn't it Tanner who is on my desktop screen saver looking over the edge of Kachess Ridge on Last month's climb of Little Kachess, looking as fit as ever. How does a dog so strong of heart just expire from heart issues?  It seems like a pattern is developing in  my life, losing two family dogs within a short period of time and now I have lost all 3 of my climbing dogs at the age of 10 suddenly and unexpectedly. While all of these have been most painful, the thought of deciding that they can no longer accompany me on my trips into the hills would have been even more difficult. I do find much solace in the fact that Tanner did get his last trip and didn't suffer the fate of watching me go without him. I am sure that this would be the worst possible thing for him.

   Looking forward I hope to get back to my normal routine and with any luck I will have the companionship of Bosco for many years to come. While I am not convinced that he will be able to handle the the rigors of what I do, I am looking forward to finding out.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A dog's life 2 7.14.11

After Tuesday's hike it was apparent Tanner was not doing well, but it seemed as the day wore on he was back to his old self. In fact the last mile I had a big smile on my face seeing him as I always have remembered him. I was even more optimistic when we returned home and he was free from stiffness and seemed fine. We quickly switched cars and made or way to Yelm to meet our new adopted dog. Tanner didn't seem to mind the new pup and the pub seemed to be ok with Tanner. In addition he was very good with the kids and even warmed up to me despite being abused by the chief male figure in his short life.

   Once home Tanner seemed like he was lapsing and was having some difficulty breathing. We had a tough time getting an appointment for Tanner in the morning and our vet wanted to wait a day. I told my wife to make an appointment at another vet to try to get this taken care of. After making an appointment at another vet and calling our vet to have the records sent over, our vet was able to reschedule us in earlier. The initial prognosis was not good. Tanner had a severe arrhythmia and the vet was amazed that he had made through the previous day's hike without collapsing. I was convinced that it was just a blood imbalance causing his heart to overheat. Tanner was kept over night and was stable. After the vet got him up to take him up in the morning he collapsed and the vet was unable to revive him.

  Tanner was an annoying dog but he made up for it with his strong heart and wonderful companionship in the hills over the last 9 plus years. Pushed to our limits time and time again he was always game and could never wait for the next week's adventure. I am very comforted in the fact that I was able to get him out for one last lap. With his malady it was apparent that he would never be able to join me in our shared passion. For him I am quite sure this was the best and this makes it bearable for me. I just have to stand back and look at life and how easily it can take away and in the same day gives us a new dog. I know there are questions that no one will ever have answers for and this is one that will stick with me. Some things go way beyond coincidence and I feel like there is something to be learned here. While the new dog seems to have already settled into his new home, after 4 hours, I doubt that he will be my next climbing partner. He seems to have a pelvic deformity that provides a small limp that intense exercise would likely be too much. He does seems to have distracted the rest of the family and that in itself is very good. I am left with the many memories and good times with my ever faithful companion may he find a endless hill to climb.

Tanner James I will miss you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hick's Butte 5518' 658'P, Dried Tear Butte 5500' 320'P

I had originally wanted to try for Morpheous via the old Anderson Lake Miner's trail that leaves the old Taylor River Road just past Marten Creek. I had been up the route before so I was eager to finish off Morpheous but the weather was looking iffy and I wasn't able to hook up with any partners. I was also very concerned for my dog Tanner. He is 10 and has been a great companion of mine but of late he hasn't been eating and is loosing weight quickly. I wasn't sure if he was up for the longer climb of  Morpheous. I instead turned to something shorter. I had climbed the West Peak of South Cle Elum Ridge this winter using the Granite Creek Trail. On that trip I had intended on doing Hick's Butte as well but I ended up settling for WPSCER instead. I felt like this was something that would be an easier day to combat both the rain and my concerns for my pup.

   I managed a mid morning start and I was walking just past 11 AM. The road to the Granite Creek Trail is closed about a mile short of the trailhead due to road damage for this Spring's runoff. The damage is driveable but since this was going to be a shorter day I parked before the washout. There seems to be some active thinning of the forest as there are piles of cut branches everywhere. I wonder if they will be picked up since I would think this to be a major fire hazard. The road is completely impassable just before the trailhead. The trail itself is also closed due to the water damage to the trail as well. I just stepped under the tape and continued on my way. The trail overall is in fine shape except for the two creek crossings which are made much more difficult from the damage. Although the trail was covered in snow on my last trek up it, it was just as I remembered it.  Just as I hit a small brushy stretch it started to rain so I added rainpants. I started to see Tanner really struggle once past the second crossing where the pitch increases.. He started at first to walk behind me which has only occurred in deep snow when he couldn't break trail any longer. Soon he was lagging behind and I had to wait for him to catch up and rest. This was devastating to me. Tanner is my third climbing dog and the other two were both hit by cars before they had to be retired from hiking. This is the first time I have had to go through this. I will admit that I was not dry eyed as I made my way to the ridgeline. Although our pace was slower than normal we soon found ourselves at the road that runs along the ridge. I walked a few hundred yards and then headed up towards Hick's Butte.

   The going was mostly open and other than alot of blowdowns and wet foliage I had no problems reaching Hick's Butte. I was happy to see Tanner seem to improve as we reached the top. The views were mostly stunted by the low cloud cover. I was able to see to the SE and I noticed another point that was about the same height that had some healthy prominence. Since it had taken less than 2 hours so far I thought of adding a bonus summit to the day. I felt like this would be too much for Tanner so I bagged the idea. After a short stay on the summit I dropped down more to the SE using some nice flowery slopes that popped me out on a logging road which I followed to the saddle between the point I had seen earlier and Hick's Butte. On the way down from Hick's Butte Tanner seemed like his old self, even chasing deer a few times. I decided to press on. I found another trail heading my way and followed. The road spit me out on a logging road. I was able to see earlier that the trail again left this road so I followed. I reached the trail and in short order I was at a small gap in the ridge. I was surprised that another trail actually headed up the point I intended on climbing. I was able to follow this trail to a few feet from the summit where I again headed South making sure I had touched the high point. Since I wasn't able to find a name for this peak I will christen it Dried Tear Butte since with Tanner's sour state evaporated so did my tears.

  I then reacquired the trail and followed it to a logging road that thankfully returned me back from where I had come. Just before returning I received a text from my wife urging me to return home so that we could make it to Yelm by 7PM to look at a dog to adopt. I dropped very quickly and after crossing Granite Creek I tried to avoid the second crossing by staying on the West side and not recrossing. I was met with mixed results as I was forced some steep descent and then once along the creek I ended up having to cross it anyway. I ended the last mile road walk with a smile on my face as I watched Tanner looking as I have always seen him.

   It appears that we will be adding a new member to the family as the new dog was a good match and barring any unforeseen issues will be joining our family on Saturday. Tanner seemed fine when we returned but seeing him so skinny makes me think this may be short lived....

Approx 9 miles  3700' of climb 4:45 car to car


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