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.
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