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Outings with Pete

Posted by joeabbott on September 5, 2010

Since the last time I wrote (in earnest), I’ve been pretty busy, interspersed with lots of quiet time, too. One of the things I’ve done in the past month was head out with my pal Pete on our annual hiking trip.

In many of the trips we “fail” at the stated objective but in stretching the legs on a hike, getting away from it all, and spending time with an old chum we’re quite successful.

Our trips started because we were both in the same workout class and wanted to do a little weekend work. I’m quite into the hiking\climbing thing (mostly hiking these days) and found out that Pete had done quite a bit of hiking in his youth. So we started getting out … but, in the manner of a couple guys with already-busy schedules., it’s now turned into a “yearly” activity.

Here are some of our outings.

Alta Mountain (2007)

home 004image This was the first “real” outing we went on. Something that required a small amount of driving and more than an hour or two of effort. An all-day sort of hike. Sure, Alta Mountain isn’t renowned as a “destination peak” but a fair number of people hike it, the summit affords you views of some remote places, and it’s still quiet and lovely. So we headed out.

From the map to the left, those familiar with the Seattle area can see that Alta Peak is just across “the Pass” along I-90. About 65-70 miles from Seattle, depending on which neighborhood you’re coming from.

While Gold Creek looks like a direct route to Alta, the actual established path goes past Lake Vivian and Rachael Lake, and enjoys a few waterfalls along Rocky Run. A wonderful hike.

We headed out mid-morning and hit the trailhead an hour later. We enjoyed perfect hiking weather but it was a bit foggy at the Lakes. Once we popped up onto Rampart Ridge we left the clouds behind and were able to trek along under cloudless skies.

I managed to miss a cut-off for Alta and we ended up hiking to a narrow alley between Rampart and Box Ridges (Box Ridge is just to the east of Rampart). No worries, we caught our breath, enjoyed a bite, and then scampered up the steep side to Alta proper for wonderful views.

Pete started out loaded with training weight in his pack and a bit over halfway (he may argue the “bit” part) we swapped packs and he took my ultra-lightweight day pack.

This outing was our first and a test of compatibility. I have a lot more recent experience in the hills and absolutely have quirks in my hiking style: I don’t mind going hard and sweating, I don’t need to walk within earshot of my partners, and I enjoy “going a bit further”. Pete is strong and completely at ease staying with me, stopping to snap some pics of his own and catching up, and (as long as it doesn’t suggest that it might kill him) willing to go another mile or so.

In all, we’re remarkably compatible.

home 013 home 023 home 021 home 075

I have more pictures posted at Alta Mountain 2007.

Barclay Lake (2007)

image image I want to start out making it really clear right now that Barclay Lake was not the destination we were aiming for! We were attempting to get to Eagle Lake but, as you’ll see, events conspired against us and we aborted to this “lesser” destination.

Barclay Lake is a simple “child’s hike” located just west of the town of Baring along Highway 2 … about 60-70 miles from Seattle, depending on your neighborhood. While I’d call Alta to be east of my home, I’d call Barclay to be NNE.

Anyhow, when I got to Pete’s house, the weather felt distinctly “Seattle”: cool and with moisture in the air but not quite raining.

By the time we got to the trailhead, however, it was quite a bit wetter outside. We actually surrendered and used the windshield wipers. A clear sign that we had submitted to the fact that it was indeed raining.

We marched out on the trail, confident in our ability to weather the weather and were surprised by how quickly we hit Barclay Lake. Our destination was Eagle Lake but that lies on an unmaintained trail and, in the rain we lost the trail and ended up scampering about the steeps sides of Merchant Peak in search of a toe hold into Paradise Meadow.

While out getting wet and thrashing about with too-heavy packs (it would be our first overnighter), Pete managed to lose his watch and the small group of elderly folks marching out for what appeared to be Eagle Lake, disappeared in the mists as we strove to find the path.

After a couple hours and some near spills on the thickly mossed rocks gave up and headed back. Rather than submit to complete defeat, we tossed up a tent near Barclay Lake, got out of our wet gear and into our bags, and played cards and read for the remainder of the day.

At one point the troupe of elderly folks marched past us again and smiled in recognition of either our defeat or just happy to see we were still in one piece.

 P1010015 P1010011 P1010001 P1010012

I have more pictures posted at Barclay Lake 2007.

Eagle Lake (2008)

image We could call this Grudge Climb 2008: we headed back to find Eagle Lake and camp there! I wrote about this earlier in this blog here.

SFJ and Maude 101Fortunately for us, the weather was in much  better shape and we actually saw the lake this time. While we’d planned for some snow, I think we were both surprised by how much of it there was. Regardless, we got to the Lake and then some, but not without leaving a little sacrifice!

The hike in was much more pleasant this time as we had good weather and footing. Unfortunately, the trail up continued to be a bit of a conundrum for us to find and we scampered up an old rocky boulder and scree slope. We did have better beta and were able to find Stone Lake (just off Merchant Peak’s SE ridge) and then followed tracks in the snow to Eagle Lake.

The lake was mostly ice covered with a bit breaking up, with snow completely within the valley and up to the low surrounding ridges.

That afternoon we setup our tent, dug in, and did some minor exploring of the area within the valley. We found a good water source, peeked into the dilapidated and musty smelling cabin, and had dinner. That night Pete schooled me in cribbage a bit more and we read whatever we brought that seemed to be good reading.

The next morning we got up and headed up Townsend Mountain and enjoyed the wonderful views after cresting the steep ridge above the lake. We had a snack and then snaked along the ridge to the top. From there, I snapped this set of pics: image

This is looking SW with Baring Mountain in the middle; Eagle Lake is the solid white patch below Baring and to the right. Merchant and Gunn Peaks are to the right.

Coming off the ridge we had a harder time. We headed down before we got to the place we came; this avoided some tricky climbing we’d found earlier on the ridge but this led us to some nasty slide alder beneath a minimal snow cover. ugh. There was a bit of slipping and sliding but we made it down in one piece, packed up our gear, and headed home.

SFJ and Maude 019 SFJ and Maude 044SFJ and Maude 094   SFJ and Maude 067

On the way out we found traces of a path and were able to follow a trail to Barclay Lake. It wasn’t that difficult but helped to have two kids just in front of us … they weren’t ready for snow, one was terribly frightened of spiders, and both were better suited for the ease that is Barclay.

I have more pictures posted at Eagle Lake 2008.

Remmel Mountain (2009)

imageFew of our hikes will require such a big map (or involved), or are as ambitious … or “failed” so quietly. But let’s look at the map first.

The large square box is the trailhead from where we headed out. We were originally targeting the underlined trailhead above it … I knew that one from a previous outing, but we settled on the more southerly launch point. It would cost us nearly 5 miles of additional walking but saved us several hours of driving.

Our destination was Remmel Mountain located in the very northern part of the state. Find the tiny yellow dot in the image below (just off the Canadian border).


In short, a few weeks earlier I’d twisted my ankle badly coming off Bonanza Peak in the north Cascades. I was hoping it wouldn’t slow me up but, after 7 miles or so, I was ready to stop (which was the plan) but also knew that I wouldn’t be able to continue to the second night to a camp below Remmel (which was the second part of the plan). We both agreed that if, in the morning it felt better, we’d continue on, but I was sure I’d had enough. Which is too bad because that’s a really long way to drive for an overnight camping trip!

But, it was our yearly outing so it was good to just get out. It did rain that night and the heavy clouds stayed with us the next day. The trail in was through old, burned out forests and not very scenic. On top of that, little to no wildlife was in the area. We saw one little caterpillar but it was otherwise quiet.

P9180033 P9180002P9190052 P9190047

As I said, good to get out but I wish that I could have held together long enough to into the mountains or chosen a place that was a bit less desolate.

I have more pictures posted at Remmel 2009.

Fortress Mountain (2010)

image image Our latest outing took us below Fortress Mountain, a peak that’s avoided my boots for 3 “attempts” now.

The first time I attempted Fortress I was with a crew back in my “climbing days”. It should come as little to no surprise that we were rained off. We did manage to get up Chiwawa Mountain next to it.

My second effort was a handful of years back when I went solo. I planned to do it in one day and got right below the mountain before I accepted that I wasn’t making the time I wanted to and was starting to get tired. When alone, I am very conservative.

And now I thought to head up Fortress with Pete.

To get to Fortress, you take a moderately long drive to Trinity, WA, about 3 hours from Seattle. From there, take the Buck Creek trail to Buck Creek Pass and then hike a class 3 scramble to the summit.


Now, Pete’s not a climber so this outing was focusing on getting out, getting views, and enjoying the time together.

At the beginning of the week we were preparing for weather in the 80s and full sun. This being the Seattle area, we got to enjoy a different bit of weather at our outing: temps in the 50s and mist\sprinkles for much of the trip.

We headed out from the trailhead with both of us commenting on how poorly we’d slept. I hadn’t gotten out much this summer and Pete was in a similar boat. By the time we were just below a stiff part of the trail, we were tired. We also were at a really nice horse camp and the weather was threatening to open up on us.

I suggested we tent here (the place marked with the rounded rectangle in the picture above) and, after a short rest, hike to Buck Creek Pass for views. If the moment took me\us, we could scramble the peak. Pete agreed and we made camp.

After the tent was up and we had a small bite, I crawled in to my bag to the sound of light rain on the tent. Three hours later I woke up and it was still raining harder. Our summit bid was clearly off.

It stopped raining long enough to have dinner but started up after that. We holed up for the night eschewing our usual card games for some light reading before dozing off.

In the morning we did a small bit of exploring up the trail toward the Pass but the clouds were heavy and it didn’t look like we’d see it blowing off. So, we shouldered our packs and headed back to the car, willing to try again next year.

Fortress 2010 035Fortress 2010 005 Fortress 2010 018 Fortress 2010 023 

I have more pictures posted at Fortress Outing with Pete, 2010.


One Response to “Outings with Pete”

  1. […] hikes” in an effort to prepare for this year’s outing. I’ve talked about Peter before (here, here and here) when we’ve done a few hikes previously. He’s good company, carries his share of the […]

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