Saturday, February 4, 2012

McDonald Mountain 3570' 2190'P

     With the rarest of rare,  having a Saturday off and having sunny warm weather in February I thought it best to get out and stretch the legs. I had to be somewhere in the evening and I worked until 3am so getting up early wouldn't be in the cards. I had been up high on the McDonald Ridge once before and had to turn back because I had forgotten my headlamp. On that trip I did 3 miles in the dark making for some eerie walking. On that trip I had used the Southern access road so of course for this trip I wanted to use the Northern route. I found a nice spot to park next to the giant blue gate, there was one car already parked bolsterling my confidence that I was indeed in the correct spot. I travelled light with no pack and in my lighter boots hoping to keep a brisk pace. The initial portion of the old road is more like a trail with areas that are washed out and some fresh fallen timber from the recent ice storm. Although I was quite surprised that there wasn't far more damage. After about a mile the road is much better and I picked up the pace. The road reaches an open clear cut that wasn't sheltered from the stout East winds. Just before I reached the clearcut I was wary of keeping vigil for falling branches or trees. Thankfully I wasn't treated to either. Once reaching the clearcut my attention turned from watching for trees falling to trying to keep myself from being blown over by the wind. I gave some thought to turning around since I wasn't dressed for the conditions. I could see a half mile away the road rejoined the forest giving me a reprieve from the wind. Once I was sheltered from the wind the weather was warm and very pleasant. I was lost in my thoughts when I came to a junction and to my surprise I was already at the spur that takes you to the radio towers. Even though I had already been there I went again thinking that would be as far I had time to go. Much to my surprise it only had taken me 90 minutes to go  the                                                                                                          5miles.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
Since I still had some time I pressed on. I stayed on the road as it descended some elevation before reclaiming it. I reached the end of the road and I had remembered that the thick growth of small fir trees is short lived so I bulled through the thick growth to access the more mature trees on the other side. On my previous trip I had stayed more directly on the ridge line and found annoying travel in the clearcut. This time I stayed climber's right and found much easier travel. Once regaining another road the pace again quickened. I followed this for some time before reaching another dead end and headed climber's left to reach another road which I again followed for some time. I reached a small saddle between two higher points and headed for the Southern one first. I left the road and headed steeply up. The snow was very icy and not having my Winter boots made for some tense travel. I easily reached the summit and then headed North and found easier travel and less ice on the Western side of the ridge. Instead of retracing my route I headed to the Northern point just for fun. I then headed back to my ascent route and put in my biggest gear for the long haul out. I was pleased to cover the 12+ miles roundtrip in around 4 hours. despite the route never being steep I still racked up over 3500' of gain as well. It was quite a site to see the multitude of fires burning in the valley below. I am quite sure I could see more than 200 fires going burning the remnants of the ice storm. I could also see that the South sound was socked in with an inversion trapping all the pollutants near the surface. The strong Eastern winds were blowing all that smoke directly towards an area that clearly didn't need any more pollutants. I would expect that many with breathing issues are feeling the effects of this.

Popular Posts

lijit stats