Friday, December 14, 2012

Tucker Creek Area 4114'

   It has  been some time since I have been outside of the Issaquah area to do some climbing. I have spent this fall exploring areas close to my home. I have shifted to doing more miles each week just to lean myself out a bit and see as much of this unexplored area as I can. I have enjoyed my forays in the local Issaquah Alps but getting out in the snow was calling out to me. I have read a few reports of recent climbs in the snow but I know how variable conditions can be locally so I thought something low key was in order. I had been up Tucker Creek last Winter and I remember thinking a return trip would be in order. I didn't have a whole day so I thought I would just go as far as I could in my allotted time.  I parked near the Iron Horse trail despite the gate being open. I didn't want to chance getting caught on the wrong side of a closed gate.  The weather had cleared considerably and I cursed the fact that I had forgot to pack my sunglasses. In the end they weren't needed. I followed the road heading up Tucker Creek that was broken by snowmobile traffic. Not needing snowshoes the pace was quick.. I crossed a couple of creeks by booting it through the water instead of tempting some suspect looking bridges. Soon I reached a junction with a more travelled road and I headed up. I switched to snowshoes and the pace slowed. Despite working very hard on my fitness this didn't transfer to ploughing through heavy snow with snowshoes on. I was quite surprised that I couldn't manage 2 MPH on the low grade road.  I had hoped to summit Goat Mt. but it was clear that my pace wouldn't allow for that. Just before reaching a saddle I decided to bag 4114' instead. I followed a snowmobile track steeply up the ridgeline where I departed to make my own way. The snow was deep and not very well consolidated. This slowed the pace to a crawl. Finally I made the summit that was completely treed with no views. I had a short lunch sheltered from the stiff wind. I retraced my steps to the snowmobile track and continued down ridge to intersect the road further down the ridge. I enjoyed the nice walk back to the car, very thankful for another opportunity to get out.

Approx 8.5 miles 2100' of climb 4:15 car to car

Thursday, October 18, 2012

West Tiger #3, Poo Poo Point The Very Long Way

With the predicted poor weather on Monday I wanted a day just on trail. I had planned on heading East but when I heard that I-90 was going to be shut down to one lane each way at Snoqualmie Pass I decided another destination was in order. When I got up the kids begged me to stay home so I decided to instead include them in a hike. Thankfully the wife joined as well. Last week I had done some more exploring of Tiger Mt. using the trailhead that starts at the bottom of Highlands drive. In my wanderings last week I found a "big tree" trail. which I didn't explore. I thought this would be perfect for a family hike. I enjoyed having the family enjoy the threatening weather. Thankfully it did stay dry. The trail wanders through some beautiful forest and finally we were treated to a 24' diameter tree. I ended up making a loop out of the trip. When we returned to the car the family bid me adieu and I retraced my steps to the junction with the Adventure Trail and started South. I followed this to the Section Line trail which I used to summit West Tiger #3. I only saw one person on my ascent so I was shocked to see a solo hiker just ahead of me. We ended up reaching the summit at the same time. I found the odds of two hikers summitting at the same time on a rainy October day from 2 different routes to be extremely low. The wind and rain was very stout on the summit. I had planned on continuing on to West Tiger #2 but the weather made me change my mind. I had a long way to go and I thought it best to continue South.

   I retraced my steps until I reached the County Line Trail. Despite my wishes for a brush free trail day I was dismayed to find that the trail was vastly overgrown. With the leafy brush and the growing rain I was soon soaked. I pushed on the endless ups and downs of the County Line trail. The trail follows an old railroad grade which is mostly flat. However it crosses many creeks that one must drop 50' and then re climb once across the creek. My next stop was Poo Poo Point. I stopped for a short time to check in with my wife. I feared with so far to go yet that I would have to walk the last 4 miles of busy roads in the dark. I joined the road to Poo Poo Point to connect with the spur that branches off Tiger Mt Road. Despite some options that would have let me descend earlier I continued heading South. I really wanted a coffee and I hoped that I would be able to reach the coffee shop at the Tiger Mt. Store before it closed for the night. I finally reached the Tiger Mt. road and leashed the dog. I wasn't thrilled to use this road because there isn't much of a shoulder and the sight lines are short and traffic seems to move at a faster than needed clip. Finally I reached the bottom of the hill and was able to enjoy a nice cup of coffee while I waited for my family to pick me up. A fine way to spend a very wet afternoon.

Approx 15 miles 4000' of climb 3:45 walking.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Alta Mountain 6240'

   I had a devil of a time deciding what I wanted to do for this day. After last week's long and arduous trek I wanted something mostly on trail. I wasn't opposed to a lot of miles or climb but I wanted to avoid anything too taxing on the mind or to wrestle with too much brush. I got up 30 minutes early to try to decide without any success. I picked up Bruce in Issaquah and we had some discussion about the day's objective. First it was Silver, then I decided a return to Hi-Box would be a good fit. I didn't have a parking pass so I parked at the spur road about 1/4 mile short of the Rachel Lake Trail Head. Some time along the way we decided to head for Alta instead. The weather was cool but we both knew that that would be short lived. We kept the pace up making our way for the mostly flat initial 3 miles to Rachel Lake. In short order we reached the climbing portion of the approach to the lake. Bruce peeled off to adjust clothing and I pushed on. I had great legs so I pushed pretty hard up the rooty rocky trail to the lake. In short order I reached the lake and chatted with a lone hiker who was already there.

Shortly thereafter Bruce joined me for a short respite at the lake. Despite the warm sun the temps were perfect with the stiff breeze. After a short stay we headed up towards the junction with the Rampart Lakes Trail. The trail improves despite the increased pitch. I marvelled how quickly we were able to climb above the lake
After reaching a junction we headed North for a short ways before the trail again split. Here we headed left and started the climb past the numerous false summits along the way to the true summit. The colors were a bit past there prime but with the beautiful weather the views were something to behold.

The trail is easy to follow and in good shape. It does pass multiple false summits and does have some minor exposure. Once at the summit I soaked in the views along with the warm sun.

Even though it was still early I needed to get back so retreat I did. We were treated on the descent with an eagle soaring below us, along with the beautiful fall colors.

We had an extended break a couple of hundred feet below the summit before pounding our way back to Rachel Lake. There was a nice couple at the lake that we chatted with before the descent back to the valley floor. It did seem longer on the way out than it did on our way in. Finally we made it back to the car.
Approx 10 miles 3600 ft of climb 7 hours car to car. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Morpheus 5432'

I have been working my fitness level up to my normal standards and with the stellar predicted weather I thought it was time to give myself a worthy test. I have attempted Morpeus a few times in the past and have fallen short for various reasons. Last year I was able to make it close enough to spy the route but had to return because of time constraints. With all this practice I felt with a partner it would be a go. Bruce signed on and we met at in Issaquah. The North Fork Road is in decent shape and we quickly made it the junction with #57 and headed towards the Bare Mt. Trailhead. A wind event that blew countless numbers of trees along the road has been cleaned up. I can't imagine what it would like to have witnessed the events. Glad I wasn't around at the time. Shortly after the Bare Mt. Trailhead the road ends at a decommissioned bridge. We parked and suited up. Despite the unbroken sun the weather was quite cool. Bruce donned gloves and I wished I had.

    We set off at a brisk pace for the 1.25 mile jaunt on the road to the Anderson Lake Trailhead. The road has been reclaimed but has enough foot traffic to keep going mostly open. Although I wouldn't want to do this during a recent rain. Once on the trail the pace slowed. The trail hasn't seen much in the way of maintenance and is overgrown and not in good shape. Thankfully with all the dry weather the trail is a lot less muddy than I remember. We kept the wheels churning and soon reached the basin below Dog Mt. I have many fond memories of this basin and I also enjoy returning to it. We had a short break before traversing to Anderson Pass. Once at the pass instead of dropping 200' to the rockslide below I stayed on the ridge for a short ways before traversing to the rock slide. This shaved a few hundred feet of climb. The next task was to get over or around a spine blocking travel. On my previous attempt we had climbed to around 5200' and found a nice gap to cross over. This time I headed lower and found easier going around 4800'. Once around the spine we were able to see the summit and thankfully it looked much closer than I remember. The plan was to hold our elevation and traverse to just below the summit. We traversed around 4900' and found mostly easy travel with the exception of  a portion of multiple ribs that we had to circumvent. Once below the summit we headed for a gully on the South side. After 50' of easy climb in the gully the pitch increased and thankfully there was plenty of foliage to grasp to ensure safe passage. After another 50' we reached the ridge and easy going to the summit. I was disappointed when we couldn't find a register, although we didn't look too hard. 

    The warm weather was taking it's toll on me and I didn't want to linger too long. We descended the way we had come and thankfully the steep part of the gully seemed easier going down than it did to climb. On our return we traversed a bit lower and I think it was easier. Thankfully we ran across a couple of springs to replenish our woefully low water rations. Once crossing the spine we had some tough time descending the duff slopes. We both ended up making some slow motion slides before we were able to catch ourselves. Thankfully we rejoined the trail at the pass. Once at the pass the winds picked up and our warm day thankfully cooled. I wanted to get back to the basin before stopping for lunch, I was thinking it would be nice to have less miles to pound back to the car. After lunch I was ready to get home. We now were racing daylight and I really didn't want to do the descent on this poor trail with a headlamp. The lower portions seemed to go on forever and it was getting quite dark before we made it back to the road. It was getting verfy hard to see as we made our way along the road. Nearing the end I couldn't see much of where I was stepping. It struck me that even without being able to see my feet seemed to know the way. Thankfully we finally reached the car. After changing we started out and I noticed that the car was pulling very hard to the left. Of course a flat tire 25 miles from pavement and in the dark. I had taken the jack out of the car to work on another car.... did I put it back? I couldn't remember..... thankfully I had put everything away in it's proper place and Bruce and I changed the car like an Indy pit crew.  Thankfully I made it home just before 10.

Many thanks for Bruce for without him being with me I certainly wouldn't have made the summit.

Approx 11 miles 4000' of climb 10:30 Car to car.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Rampart Ridge 5870'

    I again wasn't in the mood for an epic adventure so something familiar seemed like the best choice. I have been up the fisherman's trail to Lake Lillian a few times and I love the area of Rampart Lakes in Fall. I toyed with running all the way to East Alta but in the end I opted for a return to the Rampart Ridge Hi-Point. Exit 54 was open which I wasn't sure would be the case. There is however plenty of road work so keep a wary eye for workers and trucks. Once past the construction the road is in passable shape. I left the main line at the second switchback where I kept heading straight instead of following the mainline. In past years this road has had plenty of encroaching brush. Today the road was in much better shape saving the paint job on the old Subaru. Once the road makes a big bend there is plenty of parking.

I was a bit surprised to see a few cars. After suiting up I was off the trail starts flat but soon climbs steeply to a junction with Lake Laura the right junction continues to climb steeply until it joins the trail coming from Mt Margaret. A short ways later in flattens out and you can see Lake Lillian. In the past I tried making my way along the South shore but it is slabby and a slip would result in falling in the lake. Instead of making my way to the lake I headed East and climbed on good tread to make my way around the unpleasant slab traverse. After 100' of climb you can drop back down to lake level and continue towards the Northern Shore. The trail again splits with one staying near lake level to a nice campsite on the North Shore. I instead climbed steeply to gain the ridgeline above the lake. Once reaching the ridge the trail wanders through some nice tarns and meadows. The views are nice despite the smokey air.

   Once I reached another junction I decided to head up instead of dropping to the uppermost Rampart Lake. The trail is in good shape and spits you out onto the summit ridge. Once on the ridge I headed West to reach the highpoint. The summit is guarded from a direct ascent by some airy steps to reach easier ground.. I had hoped that the dog would stay below me becasue I wasn't sure if he could make it both up and down unscathed. Not feeling good about continuing I backed down and dropped pack in the warm sun. After a short break I thought I could drop down a bit a traverse to the Northern side on some nice ledges. This proved to be fruitful as I was able to find easier dog friendly scrambling. Once reaching the summit the views to Snoqualmie Pass are pretty cool.

  I retraced my steps back to my pack and relaxed a bit before the knee jarring descent back to the car. Just North of the lake I passed a couple of nice guys heading up. After a short conversation I made it back down to lake level.


  The ballance of the trip was hard on the old knees but I quickly made it back to the car. I was hoping to give myself plenty of time to return home to watch the Seahawks take on the Packers on Monday Night Football.

Approx. 5 miles 2700' of climb 3:45 car to car

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Smokey Mt Persis 9.17.12

   Back from my multiple vacations and settling into my new work schedule I was finally  back into a routine. I was eager to get out and summit something. Despite the stellar weather I wasn't looking for an all day affair. I hadn't been up Persis and since it included in the Homecourt 100 I had a worthy goal. I managed to get out of the house and make my way to Forest road 62 which I followed until it branches just before the concrete bridge around 4 miles in. The spur I took is rough but the Subaru had no issues. After a few miles the road again forks and I took the left spur heading up. Once reaching a switchback the trail head isn't much further. There is enough parking for around 4 cars and the trail starts a few feet past the parking spot. There was one other car parked as I suited up. The weather was ideal, maybe a touch too warm. The smoke drifting West from the fires in Eastern Washington was thick.

    The trail thankfully was mostly shaded in the late morning. I didn't know what to expect from the trail but for the most part it is steep but in much better shape than what I had expected. The first mile is the steepest but once reaching the higher slopes the grade relents. Not knowing the trail made route finding a bit more difficult. I ended up heading too high on the ridge topping out on 5017' . The pup was having some trouble with the boulderfield so I had to backtrack to help him navigate. While he has been over many rockslides, most where have been covered with snow. I bashed my way along the brushy ridge until I was able to find the trail that traverses beneath the ridge. Just below the tarns I passed a nice couple and their two dogs. Just after passing them I found a nice cool shady spot to let the dog cool. After the dogs had had some time to cool I made my way to the tarn a short ways above me. Thankfully there was still plenty of cool water along with some substantial snow. Thankfully the dog was able to drink his fill.

   I again had some navigating issues heading too far East and having to backtrack to find the trail. I reached the smoky summit in short order. The views were mostly blocked with the thick smoke. It sure seems like a long way down to Hy 2 far below the summit. I was able to get some nice peeks at the Index complex, making it even more apparent that I will have much difficulty finishing the Homecourt 100. After a short stay and some nice conversation with the couple I had passed earlier I retreated back to my shady spot below the tarns. Surprisingly the bugs were quite bothersome. Between a few horseflies and the swarms of small flies I didn't manage as much relaxing as I had hoped. Growing weary of swatting flies I headed back. The portion of the trail that traverses went much quicker since I was able to easily follow it. The steeper portion was taxing on the knees but I managed to make it out without any missteps.

A perfect fit on this beautiful September day.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Lake Pend Oreille, Scotchman Peak 7009'

After last month's stellar week long trip to Seaside I went back to work for all of 3 days before heading out on another family adventure. One of my closest friends had bought an auction item to stay in a lakeside home on Lake Pend Oreille. I was stoked when he asked if we would like to join them for 5 nights. I didn't know a thing about the lake including how to pronounce it. I did some research and found that it is a massive lake that provides trophy fishing for 11 species of fish. While I had a great time at the beach, I am much more at home at a mountain lake. After getting off very late on Friday night I wasn't able to sleep, so I was concerned with the long 5+ hour drive to the house.  We met in North Bend and topped off with coffee. I drove my friend and my wife and kids drove with his wife and kids. The time passed very quickly with some great converstaton to help us get caught up. I had no idea where we were headed so I just followed behind without a care in the world.

    I was excited when we reached the long bridge that leads to Sand Point, we must be close? The sheer size of this lake is amazing since it took another 30 minutes before we reached or house. When we pulled in I was in awe. The house was huge and it exceeded my expectations in every way. I think we could have added another 10 people and still been comfortable.  Instead of unpacking we all toured the house with sheer awe. I had to laugh when we made our way downstairs to find the "man cave" There were stuffed deer heads everywhere. The capper was a full size elk that was stuffed and was standing in an area that was made to look like a forest scene. While this certainly isn't my style it gave us all a great laugh and made us all feel like this was going to be a great trip. There was also a 50 foot dock that floated over some very promising looking water. After unpacking and settling in Joe and I made our way out to throw some flies. As good as the water looked nothing of note was hooked.

   Joe and I went into town to get supplies. I was shocked at the amount of stuffed fish I saw. This lake produces the biggest trout I have ever seen. Everywhere we went there are trophy fish on display. We had an immense amount of fun shopping, enjoying each person we met along the way. I think we both had a sense that this was going to be a memorable trip. After returning we had a wonderful dinner and family time.

  The next day was spent fishing, no luck for Joe and I. My youngest daughter was the only one who could manage to hook anything. Tears welled in my eyes when I say such joy in her eyes when she was able to land some small pikeminnows in her "honey spot". The wives left later that day to explore Sandpoint. I was overwhelmed with joy when my oldest was doing laps swimming from shore to the end of the dock and then would run back to do it again. After 8 laps I asked her is she wanted me to time her. She was so happy to push the pace and after posting a great time she wanted to do it again to see if she could do it faster. We both were beaming when her 10th lap was indeed the fastest. Evidently my daughter is more like me that either of us was aware.

   Luckily we found out that Silverwood last day was Labor Day. I had already purchased passes and we had intended on using them on Tuesday.  I am not a big water park fan so I decided to pursue something more pleasing to me. I had done some research and found Scotchman Peak was only 30 minutes away. It was a stout 3700' climb and boasted being the county highpoint as well as more than 4000' of prominence. This was a perfect target for me. After the family left for Silverwood I left with the detraction that I would be climbing alone. We couldn't take the family dog on this trip despite how well behaved he is. While I travel solo most often, I can think of only a few times where I haven't had the company of a dog.  After topping off of supplies in Clark Fork I headed up Lightning Creek Road and then took the Mosquito Creek road and followed the signs for Trail 65. There was one fork with no sign and I headed right. This of course was not the right way and after 4 miles I turned around. The trailhead was packed. I got out of the car and immediately stepped in a pile of crap. Not sure who or what had left it but it wasn't the start I had hoped for.  After doing my best to clean my shoes I geared up.

  The weather was ideal as I made it up the good trail. The trail is not overly steep but it does cover the 3700' of gain in less than 4 miles. Soon I was able to see portions of Lake Pend Oreille. I tried to keep the pace as high as I could. My brother introduced me to an app on my phone called Strava that enable you to time your climb and rank yourselves against others. While there was only one other who had done the climb, I really wanted to better their time. Soon the summit block comes into view and it is quite impressive. Once reaching the upper slopes I was stymied by a group of mountain goats who were intent on not letting my pass. I was very wary when one approached me and had malice in his eyes. This goat continued around behind me adding to my uneasiness since I was now surrounded.  I decide to climb above the trail and then go around and drop back to the trail. Thankfully the goats only followed me for a short ways before losing interest. While I will never be sure if I was indeed in peril, I will say that it was the scariest animal encounter I have ever had. I really pushed the pace wanting put some distance between myself and the goats. Soon I reached the summit where the wind had picked up. There was a solo on the summit but I wanted to eat my lunch lower on slopes out of the wind. I found a nice windbreak at 6800' and ate a well deserved lunch. I was also happy that I had beaten the posted time by 8 minutes. The descent went very quickly and I passed many of the people who I had crossed paths with on the ascent. If in the area I really recommend this one it is well worth the effort.

   The next day we had slated a rental of a pontoon boat for the day. Joe and I went out for a couple of hours eager to try our hands against the trophies we were sure to hook. I wasn't even dismayed when the boat renter told us that Summer is the worst time for big fish. After throwing out my rig I hooked into a nice 14' rainbow. I was set for a memorable day. Too bad that was the only fish we were to land on this day.   We trolled back to the house and marvelled at all the monster homes along the way. Evidently there are many with much more means than either Joe or I. We picked up the rest of the family and headed out for a 5 hour tour of the lake. The ladies were even more thrilled with the houses we saw. We all enjoyed swimming and generally catching the sights. Even though I tried hard I wasn't able to land anything. The sting of the disappointment was tempered by the great time we all had. After returning the the family we made one last stab at catching some fish and were only able to land a few small ones.

  The next day we decide to take a walk from the house to a trailhead near an area park. I was able to find the trailhead despite having very little to go on. We took the trail until we reached a junction where the trail splits with one going to a grave. Unable to throttle our curiosity we headed to the grave site. The grave was for a couple who had  donated the land in which the park was located.  I googled the names and was able to read the group the particulars. I was happy to show my kids why it is important to give back when you are abundantly blessed. After returning to the trailhead we continued on to the park and enjoyed some quality time skipping rocks and enjoying the beach.   When we returned the girls headed into town while Joe and I continued our assault on the fish. I grew weary of catching small ones and let Joe have free reign of the dock. I had a feeling that he would hook into something worthwhile. Joe let out a shout when he saw a big fish. I tried to make my way to the end of the dock as quietly as possible so not to spook the fish. Joe pointed in the water directly in line with his fly line. I shouted "strip your line" and Joe was rewarded with a strike. He landed the 20+ inch Pikeminnow. It was a great way to end the day. I couldn't have scripted it any better.

   We met the rest of family for a mostly disappointing meal in Sandpoint. I was excited when I asked the hostess how she was when we arrived and she stated that she was excited for the evening's impending storm. As we ate our dinner the wind and clouds steadily increased in force. By the time we made it home it was blowing 30 miles and hour with higher gusts.  This steadily increased as the night wore on. In fact the ladies wouldn't sit front of the bay windows because they were flexing so much. The power briefly went out but thankfully returned after a short time. To me this was a fitting end for our last night. I love storms and I couldn't have asked for a better one.

   With heavy hearts we packed up and cleaned the house. I think everyone was very sad to have to leave. We went into Sandpoint to have lunch together before the long drive home. I decided to head home on HY 2 instead of the way we had come. Initially this was great because it is a beautiful drive. However the last 8 miles to reach I-90 are all traffic lights adding considerable amount of time. This didn't have a bit of effect on the home arrival time because we were stuck in the I-90 closure for blasting before Snoqualmie Pass. I was not aware that they are doing closures on Thursday's. This waiting really sapped me and I struggled with the balance of the driving.

   As was the case with our Seaside trip we all hope to return next year.

Magnolia Hill (WA) Saddle and Hum Bug Mountains (Oregon)

At the end of last month my family and I were treated with a week long stay in Seaside to help celebrate my parents anniversary. To help with the festivities where my brother and his family, my cousin and her husband, my sister and her daughter, my cousin from Germany with her husband and kids and my favorite uncle from Germany. This plan had been in the works for 15 months and while I was never sure what my work situation would be I committed to attending the whole week. I was really looking forward to this trip for some time. Finally the time had come to leave but first we had to head up to Magnolia to allow my wife to finish one last job before we were to set sail. I wasn't enthused with heading the wrong direction to start but the fact that my wife was going to get a nice check made this more tolerable. Once arriving in Magnolia I took the kids and the dog for a walk allowing her the opportunity to work unbothered. I hadn't thought of any destination but as always I look to go up hill. It hit me soon after departing that there must be some hill in Magnolia. I googled it and sure enough Magnolia hill was very close. I was excited to share a unexpected peakbagging opportunity with my children before we even left town. For me life is all about the small things and this was in my opinion a stellar way to start my first family vacation in many years.

     The drive down was a bit uncomfortable because I had to shoehorn all the gear in the back and allow some room for the dog. I was overjoyed that we could bring the dog which was very unexpected. As has been the case he has exceeded my expectations in each situation that he has been in. He was well behaved and was endearing to everyone he came across on this trip. The kids were well behaved for their first road trip and soon we found ourselves in sunny Seaside. While their where plenty of us, thankfully we weren't all there for the entire week giving us more than enough space. I couldn't believe the weather, sunny, warm and not a breath of wind.

    The first day I had dedicated to spending time with the family on the beach. It was a joy to see my two girls playing in the surf with their older German cousins. It is nice to see my girls experiencing life's joys without trepidation. After I grew weary of making sand castles I went in to get my feet out of the sun. Evidently the fact they had never seen sun before made them ripe for burning. I decided that the rest of this day was best spent in  a sun kissed chair with a healthy Bourbon. I had a wonderful conversation with my Uncle and just relaxed.

   I had hoped to sneak out at least one day to stretch my legs. Before leaving I had done some research and after arriving in Oregon I had done some more. Each time I came up with Saddle Mountain. It was only about 40 minutes from the house and looked to have some substantial climb. I quickly made it to the trailhead and leashed the dog. I  soon made it to the junction with Hum Bug Peak and decided to that one first. It is only a couple of minutes to the top and it does provided some nice views of my next objective of Saddle Peak. I descended back to the main trail and started towards Saddle Mountain. The tail was in good shape and I passed quite a few parties, which was a bit of  surprise since it was midweek. The upper portions of the trail are quite rocky. To combat erosion there are long portions that are covered with meshed link, similar to a chain linked fence. This does a nice job of keeping the smaller rocks in place and giving stellar traction. In fact on the descent the traction is so good that I had some discomfort in my knees the next day. I attributed this to the fact that my feet were gripping so well. I thought it was similar to athletes who get turf toe on astroturf. There are some substantial ups and downs adding to the elevation gain. Once on top the views were great. I could see the Columbia River, Astoria and much of the Northern Coast of Oregon. I didn't stay long and was able to retrace my steps. I gave some thought of tagging the Eastern Saddle Peak but I thought I would leave that for my next visit.

   The balance of the trip was most memorable and everyone involved (except the visiting Germans) to make a return visit next year. I was most impressed with Seaside, it was clean, friendly and just a lot of fun. We walked nearly everywhere we went. Over the weekend the Mt Hood to Sea relay run was finishing and the town was a zoo. I don't know how many teams where involved but we saw a steady stream of contestants finishing for more than 12 straight hours. The festivities concluded with a fireworks display on the beach which as everything else this week greatly exceeded my expectations.

   Very sadly we packed Monday morning and had breakfast out before the long trip home. I decided to cross the Astoria Bridge on the way home. I thought the kids would find it interesting. What ever interest was subdued by the considerably longer drive on the Washington side to reach Longview.

Simply a wonderful trip filled with many great memories. After coming home I worked for 3 nights before my family's next great adventure. For that you will have to read in another post.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

North Ridge (Cle Elum) 8.14.12

 I had hoped to do something a bit more substantial today but as is the case far too often I didn't have enough time to fit much more than a half day. I had hoped to run the whole North Ridge until I reached the high point of the ridge which lies on the Southern end of the ridge. I had the misfortune of running into construction and road closures that put that plan into trouble. I had been up the road that reaches the North Ridge Trail head earlier in the year on a snowshoe outing. It sure went faster to drive up the road instead of ploughing up it on snow. Once reaching the trailhead I was surprised at the intense heat. I had expected cooler weather today and I was not too optimistic of running into water for the dog on this route. I thought I would give it a go to see how far I could get.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Granite and Trico 7.30-31 2012

With a rare opportunity with the family away I hoped to squeeze in an overnighter. I sent out some posts and was able to persuade Fletcher and Rob to join me on some climbing in the Robin Lakes area. I had reports of doing all five area peaks in a short period of time so I thought I would give myself a head start and camp at Robin Lakes the night before. I managed an early start and soon I found myself at the trailhead. I was anxious to test out my new pack with an overnight load. I managed to stow everything I needed without having to strap extra stuff to the outside. I like the new setup very much, thankfully. The weather was sunny but cool and there wasn't a bug to be seen. I set an easy pace since I knew I had all day. I made good time to the junction with the Tuck Lake Trail and headed up the trail that has degraded a bit since my last time up it many, many years ago. Once reaching Tuck lake I only remember that it was tough to find the right trail to get you to the Robin Lakes Trail. Too bad I didn't remember which of the myriad of trails is the right one. In the end I got sucked down to the lowest of the lakes and had to traverse back to find the trail.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

BootJack 6789' 7.18.12

I was looking for something on trail and with some decent vertical. I had been up Bootjack a couple of years ago and remember the trail as being efficient and pleasurable. That trip I was forced to ride my bike 5 miles from the washout to access the trail. This year the road has been fixed and I was able to drive all the way saving much time and aggravation. The trail starts about a 1/4 mile before the signed Jackpine trailhead. The trail is easy to spot if you are looking for it although it is not signed.

I left a little later than I would have liked but I still had plenty of time. I was concerned for the predicted afternoon thunderstorms. I left the ice axe and crampons lessening the chance of being struck my lightning. If the weather looked safe I had hoped to make my way along the ridgeline to Highchair. The weather was dry but recent rains made some of the brush lining the trail wet, but worse was the humidity but since the temps were lower is was quite pleasant. The trail joins the Jackpine trail and to your left is a junction with the tread to Bootjack. The trail is in great shape and the grade is efficient in the dispatching of the 4000' of climb to the summit. I just kept a moderate pace and soon I broke out on the ridgeline in a beautiful ghost forest. I stayed on the trail until I reached a small saddle with a perfect view of the summit above me. I left the trail following the ridgeline to the summit. I had no issues with making the summit which is a wonderful regional viewpoint.

I relaxed for some time carefully watching the brewing thunderstorms in the area. I searched for the summit register that I had left on my last visit but was unable to find any register. I assessed the route to Highchair and felt I could make it there and back in 2 hours. I wasn't quite sure about being able to outrun the thundershowers that were drifting my way. I was caught on a ridgeline once in a thundershower and I desperately wanted to avoid that happening again. I decided to prolong my summit stay instead.

On my previous summit of Bootjack I had really pushed the pace on the descent because of the great tread and was able to descend the 4000' in just over an hour. This trip I was not so aggressive and still was able to make the round trip in 5 hours.

The day was a perfect fit for what I needed for this day.

Approx 9 miles 4000' of climb 5 hours car to car

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lumiere Ridge 5651' 6.26.12

   Once again the weather gods were not going to be with me. I felt like I needed to head East to find bluer pastures. I again didn't want to get up super early so I struggled to find a back up. I thought the rain probably wouldn't be too heavy and If I could find a brushless route I felt like a walk in the rain wouldn't be the worst way to spend the day. I had been up nearly to the summit of Lumiere Ridge #82 on the Back Court 100 on a very warm day. Once reaching the summit ridge I met a heavily corniced ridge acting like a sprinkler system. Already having seen some slow moving slide on that day I didn't want to tempt fate for the last 50' of climb. I knew today I wouldn't have any similar issues. I left the house rather late and didn't reach the Steven's Pass Ski Area until nearly 2pm. With the long days I felt like I had plenty of time. The weather was more like November than late June and I was forced to put on my winter pants and shell.

Hard to believe it is almost July!

   Instead of trying to follow the PCT I instead headed to the lodge to acess the ski runs. I had done this route a couple of times in the past and I steamed up the slopes until I reached the ridge line near 5100'. The snow was reseptive so I stayed just in boots. Once cresting the ridge I was tempted to glissade to the bottom of the hill on the other side. I couldn't see more than 50' making that less than ideal. I easily made it to the bottom and started a descending traverse. The goal was to make it to Lake Susan Jane. I remember my last trip and the snowmobilers highmarking the steep gully directly South of the lake. On that trip I wanted to use that gully becasue it would put me a mere 500' below the summit. I didn't however use that gully in order to keep both myself and the dogs aways from the rocket sleds. Today I found less trafic as I started a mostly level traverse at 4600'. I found a gully that I was sure wasn't the one I wanted but I was intrigqued on how close I could get to Power Outage Peak 5480 which is a smaller highpoint on Lumiere Ridge. For this steepish gully I put on crampons and found pretty straightforward going to the ridge line. Once on the ridgline I could see the peak 100' above me but with portions of it shrouded in clouds I couldn't see a good route. I thought I remember reading it to be more involved that what I was looking for on this day.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thompson Point 6.19.12

Once again the weather didn't look promising and I didn't feel like driving a long ways to find some sun. I was very tempted to join Fletcher in is attempt of Dragontail and Witches Tower but in the end I didn't really wanted to get up at 2am to make that happen. I decided to head up Granite Lakes road that I had done the week before to see if I could get to Revolution Peak. The weather was thankfully warmer and drier than last week's outing.

Wilderness Peak (Cougar Mt)

My oldest daughter's last day of Kindergarten was on Monday and I was blessed to be able to attend her graduation. Another milestone passed, amazing how fast the kids are growing. When we returned I wasn't feeling like doing anything but the kids both wanted to go on a hike. Usually I have to prod them to go and very rarely can I get them to both want them to go at the same time. They both were very adamant about wanting to get out and they even agreed that they both wanted to go to Cougar Mt.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Granite Creek Road 6.13.12

Of course I have been up Granite Lakes Road way more times than I can remember and yet here I found myself once again. I had to move my climbing day to a day that I had to work making the need for something close. I have alot of things going on at the moment and I had a very restless night of lack of sleep. I had hoped to get up at 0500 . But at 0400 I decided if I couldn't sleep I might as well get up. Despite getting up an hour early I managed to leave the house at the same time as I  had planned. The weather was sprinkling and it struck me how light it was at 0400 when I got up.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Camp Creek Wanderings 6.5.12

  Traditionally May is a tough month for me to get out. I have to contend with my Wife's busy season and thus I am on kid patrol nearly full time. In addition my climbing must contend with the hot spring fishing. Thankfully the kids are old enough to get out and wet their lines making the inability to get out much more tolerable. Since I have had an extended layoff I thought a big day was in order since I had the entire day to devote to it. Fletcher and I hatched a plan to knock of Eightmile via the less travelled SE route. I suspected the weather would not cooperate but Monday seemed nicer than what was predicted so I was hopeful when I went to sleep. I awoke to wind and pounding rain and suspected my plans would be foiled once again. I fell back to sleep and awoke just before my alarm was set at 4:45. The weather had not improved and when I saw that the area around Eighmile's summit was under a weather warning I called Fletcher to assesshis feelings. We  both agreed that sleep sounded more fun than being blown around by 40mph+ gusts.

  Thankfully I was able to get back to sleep and after attending to some needed things around home it was nearly 1pm. I hastily tried to pick something out that would fit for this day. I have wanted to explore the area around Hucklberry Mt. (Salmon La Sac) for some time and since it appeared to be mostly road walking I thought that it would work for this day. Thankfully the rain abated once I crested Snoqualmie Pass and I was able to make good time to the logging road that I wanted. I parked after about a half mile despite the fact I could have driven further without issue. After suiting up I made my way up the good logging road. I crossed Camp Creek on a bridge and came to an intersection. I saw one choice was a driveway and the other appeared to go towards the other side of the house. I took the road that was in the poorest shape. I could see that there had been foot traffic on it so I felt like I was heading in the right direction. Since I didn't think route finding was going to be an issue I left my map in my pack and was too lazy to consult it. Had I done so I would have noticed that I wasn't actually heading in the direction I wanted. I pushed on and soon was forced to cross one of the braids of Camp Creek on a suspect jumble of logs. Thankfully across the road degrade to more of a trail. Feeling I was off route, I contemplated turning back and getting back on track. My curiosity got the better of me and I wondered where the trail went to. The trail wasn't in the best shape but It did climb and that what I was most interested in.

   The slope and brush were tolerable and the footing was loose but with the rain it was acceptable. I kept a good pace and crossed a few old roads in poor shape on my way to the snow line. So the grade backed off considerably and the snow deepened. I was concerned of getting off route on my way down so I tended to more open areas with recent snow making it easier to follow my tracks on the way out. Soon I reached an open area and I was able to see that I was due South of 6237' and just below the Hawkins Mt Massif. I was considerably SE of my intended target of Huckleberry Mt.and lacked any desire or time to traverse to the day's goal.

I was easily able to follow my ascent route and I enjoyed plunge stepping in the soft dirt on the way down. Soon I regained the original road and walked the spur that I thought went to the upper part of the house and realized that it was actually the road that I needed to reach Huckleberry's summit. I contemplated driving as far as I could to at least salvage a summit for this day. I instead thought it would be a fun family snowshoe when the kids are a bit older. It certainly was good to get out and the legs felt much stronger than what I had feared.   It also appears that this route would be fun and direct way to reach Hawkins summit.                                                                                                               

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Green Ridge Lake 5.8.12

    It looked like most of the week the stellar weather was going to hold until Tuesday so I wanted to get out and knock off a few peaks. I put out some feelers for partners in hopes that it would  allow for a better chance of success. I was dismayed when avalanche warnings went up for Sunday thru Tuesday. I hoped that the incoming clouds would filter enough sun on Tuesday to give me a reasonable chance at a safe summit bid. Originally I wanted to do both Floating Rock and Galleon Peaks which are unnamed summits overlooking the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie Valley. I especially wanted to do Galleon since it is rumored to be one of the finest perches in all of the Alpine Lakes area.                                                                                                                                        

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Johnny Peak 6294' 5.1.12

 As has been the pattern lately the weekend weather was pleasant and my day to hike was not. I tried to mitigate the poor weather by heading East. Fletcher was up to join me and had suggested the Icicle Ridge Highpoint that a group had done over the weekend. I was interested because it was about the amount of climb I was looking for and route finding would be very easy. The downside was that I had already done the climb. When I was looking at the map it made me remember a route that I had wanted to try many years ago and never got around to it. I still needed to climb Big Lou and I wanted to try a route that is very seldom travelled. In fact in my research I could only find one report where a couple of guys had skied the route and then descended the Cabin Creek drainage. I wasn't about to try that descent route.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

10-4 Mountain NE Ridge

  After last week's washout I was enthused with the recent nice weather. As it has been lately the weather didn't hold until I could get out. I have been working a lot lately and I finally had a day off and I wanted to get out regardless of the less than stellar weather forecasted. I had hoped on getting up early and attacking a Home Court Peak I hadn't done yet but I wasn't able to get up early enough for that. I thought I could squeeze a rematch of last week's attempt at 10-4 Mountain. I quickly made it up Forest Road #62 and parked at the junction just past the concrete bridge just past the 4 mile mark. It was very foggy/cloudy but at least it was not raining. I knew I had to keep a tidy pace to ensure making it home in time. I did the best to push the pace. Just after crossing Duffy Creek on a nice new bridge I hit snow. Thankfully the snow was firm enough to forgo snowshoes.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Duffy Creek a Gortex test 4.18.12

   I have been getting the short stick on weather of late but last week was a nice day. Unfortunately I was saddled with a cold bad enough to make me watch 8 episodes of Deadliest Catch in a row..... on a sunny day. I decided to try to work on Wednesday only because I was leaving the next day for a family vacation/memorial in the Spring Break hot spot of Minnesota. I barely made it through my shift without killing someone and awoke a few short hours later to shuttle the family to the airport before the sun was even up. This didn't exactly help my cold but at least I wasn't at work. Thankfully the flight with the kids went well and we efficiently were picked up and taken to our spacious abode for the next 4 nights. I am glad that the rooms were spacious since I spent most of the time in either in bed or the bathroom. In addition to my cold which was improving I added the  pleasure of  a gastoral issue that added to my joy.  Despite the bi-polar weather we all had a great time and were able to make it back into one piece. I had one more day of vacation on Tuesday which of course was the better weather day but I didn't want to get up early and I had evening plans. I put off my hike until Wednesday despite the weather forecast and that I had to work in the evening.

    I was able to get up well before my alarm that was set for 0600 and was off shortly thereafter. I wasn't looking for an overly challenging day since I did have to work and I was still a bit dehydrated from my weekend. I had some good beta for 10-4 mountain and some tracks to follow so I thought it a worthy pursuit for this day. I was able to make it to my jump off point just as the rain started. I suited up and started down the logging road towards my objective. I had been up this road twice this year and I could hardly recognize it despite being on it only a few weeks ago. Logging operations are in full effect and since I don't hike on the weekend I was force to dodge numerous logging truck and other assorted machinery. The rain only increased as I made my way to the saddle between 10-4 and Haystack Mountain. Once I reached the snow at around 2500' I really started to lose my enthusiasm. I pushed on .  I resisted the idea of putting my snowshoes on since the snow wasn't real consistent. When I reached the bridge over Duffey Creek I stopped and assessed my options. The rain was relentless and I didn't have the will to spend 4 more hours slogging through it. As I debated the sun started to burn through the clouds which curiously only made the rain increase. This dance continued as the sun grew in strength in tandem with the intensity of the rain. I thought this surely was a sign that the sun would win and I slapped my snowshoes on. A scant half mile later the snow ran out and the rain increased and was paired with a biting wind. I took this as a sign that this wasn't in my best interest to continue. The weather continued to deteriorate until I had safely passed the point of changing my mind and then the sun came out and I had a pleasant walk back to the car. I was thankful to have some time to spend with the family and to take care of some pressing issues on the home front. I had a stellar night at work making me think that I had made some good decisions on this day.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mt Washington 4.3.12

I had a small window of time so I wanted something close. I had hoped to make my way up to Change Peak since I hadn't climbed it before. I had hoped to take advantage of the trench laid by a fellow climber. I had read the dire forecast for the deluge that was forecasted but when I got up it was pleasant and better yet dry. I had a few obligations to attend to and by the time I was ready to leave the downpour had arrived. I fully expected and was prepared to get soaked, but since the weather had cooled so drastically I held out the hope that I would be able to hit snow short order. It was raining as I suited up at the trailhead but as soon as I started out it stopped and stayed that way for the entire day. In fact it was downright pleasant out. I guess the old adage " you never know until you try" holds true.

   It has been some time since I did any real climbing so I wasn't overly optimistic to make any blazing times. When I reached the junction for Change Peak I started a short ways up only to be rebuked by the deep heavy snow. After floundering a short ways I decided the pounded trench to Washington would be much more enjoyable and for me doable. I plugged away until I reached the dreaded steep portion at the head of the basin. It appears that most of the trench layers had thought better of the steep portion and only one set of prints kept on. The person booted it making their trail useless to me and my heft. Thankfully I was able to find a base layer 18 inches down taking some of the hardship out of the climb. I wanted dearly to make it back in time to put the kids to bed. I only had 500' to go but at my snail's pace I knew I couldn't have both a summit and family time. I retreated and enjoyed a nice walk out. I had climbed Mt. Washington before and I didn't remember it being nearly as long. I was surprised to be taxed a bit more than expected.

All and all it was good to be out.

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