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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