Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Alternate back up plan, Hansen Ridge Trail 5.27.14

Yet another day found me with my girls with nothing expected of us. The plan was to head to LIpsey Lake off the Taylor River to see the impressive falls. Despite the fact that I hadn't given the impending Middle Fork closing I wasn't surprised to see the road closed while still on pavement. Undaunted I struggled to come up with another option. None of us wanted to drive too far so I fell back on the bus turnaround on the end of the Mt. Si Road. I figured we would have 3 good options to choose from there. I was shocked to see the parking area full and two cars parked in the forbidden turnaround area. I also wasn't aware that the area is a fee area parking area. Not wanting to risk getting two separate tickets I was forced to think of something else. I decided to drive the Hansen Creek Road until I would be stopped by snow and figure something out from there.

The road was in fantastic shape, until around 3500' where there is a fallen tree across the road. Thankfully I had enough clearance to drive over a portion of it. There were a few patches of heavily rutted snow that I was again thankful that I had some extra clearance.  I was able ton drive to 3800' where the mainline switchbacks and a side road continues East. As we parked a man and his dog arrived. He was mining some quartz to the East. I had wanted to continue East on the road but I felt better about continuing on the mainline. There was mostly continuous snow as we climbed to the gate which the straddles the forbidden watershed. I laughed to myself when I realized I had walked over the snow covered no trespassing signs on my way to Gardner some time ago. I spied a sign for the Hansen Ridge Trail. I wasn't aware that there was such a trail so naturally it made a perfect objective for this day. The road was patchy snow as we made our way West. The girls seemed to be enjoying all the snow walking. I spent some time distracting the 6 year old by giving her spelling words. Sometimes it pays to use distraction techniques to lengthen our outings. My oldest would run long stretches to put some distance between us and stop so she could play a game on her phone. I had to be impressed with her stride length laid out in the snow in front of me. Just before reaching the switchback we had a family vote and decided to return. We all had a great time walking together, laughing and enjoying the warm sunbreaks.

When we returned the girls wanted to go out in the boat to fish, Music to my ears. My youngest managed to land one obese 19" rainbow, a personal record bettering her 18" she caught the other day.  A wonderful family night concluded my day.

Approx 3.5 miles 500' of climb 2:00 car to car

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Huckleberry Peak (Salmon La Sac) , Standup Creek Hiking With My Girls Parts 1 and 2

With my girls school year nearing it's end and my wife in the midst of her busy month of the year, I find myself with my days free with my girls. Between hitting our lake with our fly rods and hiking it seems like we can always find something fun to do together.  I know before too long spending any time with their dad won't be high on their list of things to do. I decided that this summer I would make the most of it. I can't describe the feeling of my oldest landing her first fish on a fly rod or watching my youngest struggle to land a feisty 18" trout. Watching her have the fish run behind her making the rod nearly wrap all the way around her is something I will never forget. Of course fishing is only one of my passions so to balance things out I thought a weekly outing would be in order. This Spring I bought them each their first adult fishing poles and more importantly their first real pair of hiking boots. What was more important than the purchase was the intent to use them as often as possible.

For our first hike of the year I wanted to make sure and hit some snow. I have saved Huckleberry Peak off the Salmon La Sac Road for a family outing for some time. I figured this would be about right for a spectacular weather day. I was able drive to our jump off point. The spur road we needed was covered in snow and I thought I might be able to drive it but I decided it was more prudent to park. Thankfully despite me buying the boots a bit too big, they didn't seem to hinder my girls. If was actually quite warm as we made our way up the road, passing a cabin along the way. I had to laugh when they both wanted to take off their shirts because of the heat. I think they were surprised when I gave them the OK. I had to chuckle to myself watching my shirtless girls make their way up the old road. The lower snowy reaches gave way to only patchy snow. Again I surprised the girls when they asked me if they could roll in the snow bank. Thinking this idea would end abruptly, I saw no harm. I reminded my oldest that she had forgotten to get her front side and to my surprise she again tempted the cold snow. Oh, to be young again. While I had hoped to make the summit I didn't want to sour or first trip out by pushing them too hard. After a few switchback they had enough. We stopped at the snow bank for one more roll and then headed back to the car. My youngest left her sunglasses after her roll forcing us to retrace a mile to retrieve them. It was just a wonderful day to share something so dear to me, with the hope that the love will blossom in my girls.

For today I gave the girls a choice between a longer, closer hike to see some impressive waterfalls or  a shorter , further hike to hike in snow. They chose the snow so we headed out to Teanaway for a trail that surprisingly I haven't been on. I chose Standup Creek because I wanted to climb Earl Peak via a different route and knowing that I wouldn't get the girls to the summit I would at least get an idea of what to expect. The spur road that leads to Standup Trailhead is a bit more difficult than I expected and I was very pleased that my air suspension decided to start working again. I wouldn't want to drive this road without some clearance. Just before reaching the end of the road we spooked a black bear who ran down the road in front of us giving us a bird's eye view. The girls were so excited to see a bear that if we would have turned around right there and went home I would have considered the day a huge success. After we ate lunch we made our way up the easy grade. The girls were enchanted with the multiple types of butterflies we encountered. In fact I can't ever remember seeing such an impressive show. The wild flowers were also out giving the girls yet one more thing to look at. We reached the first crossing of Standup Creek and I had hoped there was a bridge but there isn't. There is a jumble of smaller branches spanning the torrent. I had planned on carrying each girl over but my oldest demanded that she was going to cross on the small branches. I have never been so proud to see her pick her way across to the other side without showing any fear. I was happy to see she respected the danger but didn't let it effect her. I was sure my youngest wouldn't be up for the challenge but again she proved me wrong by picking her way across. I, on the other hand chose to just walk across. I am quite sure the branches would be challenged by my heft. After crossing the creek there are a few stretches of blowdowns and I marveled at the girls making their way through them with each having their own style. A short ways later the trail recrosses the creek. While this crossing probably was easier than the last I didn't want to try again. My oldest begged me to let her try but when I reminded her that the water rises as the day goes along, she thankfully relented. We retreated a short ways to a small pool that we had spied earlier. The girls were intent on swimming, knowing how cold the water was I was sure this wouldn't last long. To both their credit they did get in. I had to laugh when my oldest complained she couldn't feel her feet. After getting the girls reclothed we headed back. I had a tear in my eye when the girls walked side by side holding hands for large portions of the return.

I can't say that I have ever been as thankful for the life I lead than I feel right now. While for some it may not be fitting their aspirations but it is the life I have always dreamt.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Johnson/Medra #1383 4130'

I wasn't enthused with the idea of spending any more time in the rain. I have been buffeted with wind and rain of late and I needed something a bit drier for this day. I have always had good luck with sneaking a weather window in Teanaway. This has had led to a serious lack of targets I haven't done. I managed to find a unnamed summit that I hadn't done coupled with a trail I hadn't been on before. It seemed like a good plan. I would use the Johnson/Medra trail until the trail split and I would follow the right branch to connect to the ridge until I could head South to connect with to 5520' . I had a tight time schedule but since this was a shorter climb I thought I could fit it in. I stopped in Issaquah for some supplies and received a message from my wife needing my help at home. I backtracked home loosing my time window. Finally getting back on the road I was lost for a backup plan. Since it was raining quite heavily I decided to stick with the original plan hoping to at least stay dry.

The North Fork Teanaway road was mostly snow free but did have more potholes than in the past. The potholes gave me some trepidation since my air suspension is on the fritz leaving me on the lowest setting making potholes much more jarring than what I would like. I found a good spot to park across from the trailhead and suited up. Thankfully it was mostly sunny although a bit nippy. I crossed the nice bridge to find the trail mostly buried in snow. I was surprised to see fresh prints in the snow but none returning. Since there were no cars at the trailhead I was a tad perplexed. The trail was easy to follow with some stretches free from snow. After about a  mile I ran into the group that had left the footprints. Evidently they had parked further up the road. After briefly chatting I made my way a short ways further to find the trail crossing the creek. While It wasn't overly difficult I chose not to try to cross. I had spied some flagging just before running into the group so I decided to investigate. I didn't see any obvious trail near the flagging but it did appear that there had been some sort of traffic heading up the ridge. The going was somewhat steep but mostly open. I only intended going a short ways up to see how it would go. The going was enjoyable so I continued on reaching the ridge proper at around 4000'. Here there was much more flagging so I kept climbing hoping to get some views. There are numerous ups and downs but the going was straightforward. After reaching 4130' the wind and rain started to kick up so I decided that since I was near my turnaround time I best head back. I decided to continue on the ridge to the SE which was a direct line to the car. The ridge has plenty of ups and downs and finally I decided that I best stick with the known. I am sure had I continued the descent of the SE ridge I wouldn't have any issues but I couldn't afford to have any delays to make it home it time. I decided to head back the way I had come. I had a fun descent back to the trail with the ground soft enough to plunge step large portions.

Not much of a day but it was , as always, very good to get out.

Approx 4 miles 1200' of climb 2 hours car to car.

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