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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