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      Posting these cat-cartoons-without-the-cartoon was a long journey that I don’t know if I’ll repeat soon again. A daily blog is tough … even when you have your material handed to you! But, I couldn’t have done it without the artwork … Continue reading →
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      Father Time is riding out his last few minutes of being the temporal keeper for 2011; he sits in an easy chair with a calendar showing “Dec 31” behind him and a grandfather clock pointing to the time of 11:53. … Continue reading →
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      A happy young lady shares a table at a tony restaurant with her cat; they both wear festive, cone-shaped party hats. The woman gaily says to the tuxedoed server, “One martini and one glass of milk.” The cat does not … Continue reading →

Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

Annual Test Lab Hike–North Olympic Peninsula Beaches

Posted by joeabbott on September 17, 2017

I look forward to one hike all year: our annual Test Lab Hike. It’s an odd name, but a group of four of us then young-ish engineers who worked for Boeing in their Test Labs and started taking strolls in the great outdoors, enjoying what the wilds of Washington state would afford us. Now, twenty-four years later, we still get out for that stroll.Olympic Peninsula

The plan was for a five-day, four-night outing with travel to and from Seattle on the first and last days. While we’d move our camp each of the days, the tides dictated that we’d have to leave relatively early in the day and arrive at our next camp well before noon; a somewhat odd situation. Additionally, the weather was forecast to be mild with one day seeing potential drizzle and another at 20% chance of rain … which is a pretty decent prediction when heading to a rain forest for a camping trip!

In the above map, the four named locations are the places we pitched our tents. While I’ll try to be brief, this is me … and it may get long-ish.

Thursday – drive to the peninsula, camp at the trailhead

No matter how you look at things, getting to the coast is little more than driving from Seattle. We met up around 7AM at Tim’s house, he made us breakfast, we packed the SUV we’d be taking, and started the 5-hour drive. Rush hour traffic and road construction got the best of us, but we likely only lost a half hour or so to that. We headed south to Tacoma and then west, following the northern coast of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

At Port Angeles we stopped at the Olympic National Park Ranger Station for current weather, tide, and camp site information; they informed us that Seafield Creek and Yellow Banks were “dry”, meaning they had no running water. Bummer. Also, due mainly to raccoon troubles, we were required to carry the provided “bear-proof food canisters”. These are hard plastic caches roughly 18” high and 10” in diameter and can only be considered to hold a lot of food if you ram your food in pretty tightly.

But, after getting some gas and snacks, we continued on to Lake Ozette where we got one of three final camp sites, ate our freeze-dried dinners, pitched our tent, and got in an evening game of Hearts before the mist started falling. By the time we’d made our final bedtime accommodations, the mist was pretty thick. And sometime late that evening, it was unequivocally raining.

Friday – get onto the beach, camp at Seafield Creek

DSCF1186We arose around 6AM and had stricken camp, did our final packing, moved the car, and were on the trail before 8AM. Not bad for a bunch of codgers looking for the loo, needing hot breakfasts, and wondering just how the heck one packed a bear-proof food canisters into an already-full pack. And then it was walking … I chose to not wear my rain slicker, in spite of the heavy mist, because it was warm enough that I’d be sweating furiously if I did. Wet is wet, and rain feels cleaner than sweat.DSCF1187_stitch

The trail from Lake Ozette to the coast has two paths: a northerly route to Cape Alava, and a southerly one to Sand Point. We took the northern leg and marched the three miles at a modest clip, making it to the beach around 9:30AM. By that time, the mist had slackened and we all became silent as the crashing surf aroused our senses. On top of the distinct sounds of the ocean, dozens and dozens of sea lion voices could be heard barking from some far-off rocky isle. The tide was heading out and we had a camp some seven miles to the north; and so we turned our attention that way and continued our march.

DSCF1506DSCF1191Somewhere just before the Ozette River, Tim lost his footing and took a tumble, painfully damaging his side; as if in commiseration, I shortly thereafter took my own slide. I fell forward and unfortunately had my hand pinned between the rock and my trekking pole … getting a cheese-grater greeting by the myriad sharp barnacles. Upon inspection I saw a bloodless wound and attempted to rip off the hanging flesh with my teeth. I had a faint sickening sensation as the tug was substantial and wasn’t sufficient to part the skin from the thumb: that was a deep wound. I cupped my hand to my chest and made my way bank-side on the Ozette in order to shed my pack and bandage my hand. By the time I had a wrap on it, the blood was profuse. I worried a lot about infection as we all crossed the river and took a small break.

DSCF1210

Tim rested his side, Ron and I headed upstream into the Ozette River to filter water for camp, hoping low tide and a plentiful current would provide salt-free water. Unfortunately, the water was still brackish and only really good for use as cooking water or with heavily flavored powders. But, we brought what we could with us and, after our short rest, continued marching the two and a half miles north to Seafield Creek.

We setup camp and Tim realized he had forgotten his sandals back at the Ozette River just after the crossing. Without truly hoping we could get them (the tide was now coming in) … and without a lot of worry if we didn’t … we headed south and while we were unable to make it past the final headwall safely (the tide had risen beyond a safe height to pass), returned to camp happy for a chance to stretch our legs without a pack and enjoying good company.DSCF1201_stitch

DSCF1249A short time later Ron showed interest in heading north toward Shi Shi and, game for most any stroll, I joined him much to the same result as my walk with Tim: we got a couple miles in but were ultimately stopped by impassible terrain and so we walked back.

I figure I added roughly 10 miles to my day but enjoyed the beach walk and company. And, I had slept somewhat poorly the prior night and looked forward to fatigue doing what it does best: providing me a deep and excellent night’s sleep.

Our camp was set about 15’ up a bluffy wall, accessible via two trails: one with a hand-line strung down it, and the other a scampery little path that took one over a jumble of driftwood logs. The platforms were generous and Dan opted to setup his own tent a short distance away. In spite of the fact that we carry a 6-man tent on these trips (we all like our space and room for gear), Dan continues to carry his own 2-man tent for the evening’s sleep. He’ll socialize, play cards, and whatnot, but when it’s time for lights-out, he heads to his own little suite.

The clouds had long-since parted and as we settled into dinner (and, later, Hearts), we hoped the “20% chance of rain” that had been forecast for the next day had happened and was over. And, yes, I slept well.

Saturday – head back south, camp at Cape Alava

DSCF1253We awoke to a fairly good rain coming down. It sounded worse from inside the tent than it felt when one was outside, but it was coming down steadily. I was in a cross mood. I’d have rather waited out the rain but we were low on enjoyable water, had a camp site 7-miles to the south that night, and needed to cross the Ozette River at low tide … which would happen at around 10:30AM. To get there on time, we needed to break camp around 8AM. It was 6AM and I wanted to roll over.

But, I got up (grudgingly) and got going.

Breakfast for me is a Costco muffin … these little darlings are around 700 calories and it’s hard to have what is essentially cake for breakfast and still be annoyed. I managed, but only because the rain was continuing to come down. As we cleared our gear, packed our pack, and made the tent ready, I asked Tim if he wanted to put the tent body (his share for this leg), into a bag. He declined, later stating that he thought the rain would break soon, and so when we got to camp (and it was still raining), we had a fairly soaked sleeping quarters.

I’m getting ahead of myself, but not by much.

The trip south was quick, as are most hikes on the beach, as the sand just above the wave-line tends to be firmly packed and gives you a dead flat, cushioned trail each step. Tim’s sandals were where we thought they’d be, the headwalls were passed over without incident, and we soon arrived at Cape Alava … I believe it was about 10:30AM.DSCF1272

I was still grumpy and after we setup the tent, I tossed a small emergency blanket (it’s a tarp with a reflective surface) inside the tent, dumped my stuff on it, and took a nap for a few hours.

Upon waking up, the world was a nicer place. My mood had dissipated, the rain had ceased, and we had a clean supply of water to refill our bottles. I strung a couple of lines between trees and we quickly filled them with wet gear, hoping to catch the last of the westering sun. As with the other days, we ate our separate dinners together and then got in a game of Hearts to finish the day. DSCF1286_stitch

Unfortunately, I celebrated the clean water a bit more than I should have, and had to arise a couple of times in the evening to relieve myself. Upon exiting the tent around 3AM, I started what I imagine was a large crane. Ron later reported hearing it and he chuckled a bit … I absolutely was not chuckling. That bird has a terrifying scream and to hear it in the dark when one scarcely has his senses … well, it certainly had my attention.

DSCF1322Sunday – continue south, camp at Yellow Banks

Sunday was the sort of day one comes to the beach to enjoy; it was marvelous. As Ron would say: blue skies, sunshine. And it had both of those in spades.

The march to camp would be about 7 miles this day, following the beach from Cape Alava, past Sandy Point, and on around a few headwalls to Yellow Banks. We bumped into a few people but far fewer than you would think you’d see given the phenomenal sights and beautiful crashing surf.DSCF1319

DSCF1344While the seaweed beds were thickly piled on these beaches, and the sand fleas particularly plentiful, the rhythmic crash of waves, the lapping water, and that gently yielding, dead flat “trail” to hike on made the miles zip by. Upon several beaches we crossed rich troves of rocks of a myriad color and patterns. They were so beautiful, upon the return trip, I filled one of my water bottles full of agates, jasper, jet black and pure white stones. A wonder of beauty.

But, as with the other days, our day started early to accommodate the tides and before noon we arrived at the eponymous Yellow Banks. Vegetation has overgrown much of the bluff but it was a very fine sight and we were excited to be there as the tide rose and we were the only ones on the beach. While it wouldn’t hold, we had the entire expanse to ourselves for the afternoon.

DSCF1367After looking over most of the sites, we returned to the camp at the head of the beach and called that home. The camp was pretty cool: another 15’ climb up a bluffy face, but at the top were two balconies made from various drift woods (one balcony complete with a hammock!), and room for our tent amongst the trees to the rear. If we could have spent another night, that would have been the place.

But, rather than setup shop right away, we all spread out our gear in the sun and set it to drying. And while it was doing that, Ron found a few floats lost from various ships and set us all onto a game of bocce ball. In this game, the leader (typically the person who won the last round) would toss a smaller float out several yards; thereafter, all participants would take turns tossing their floats after it. The person closest to the small float won a point … unless his toss ended up touching the small float, and then he would get two points. No one in our games would ever win the two points.DSCF1412

It was a very fun event and I’m pretty happy Ron suggested it and found the floats\bocce balls. At one time I gave my ball toss a bit too much arc and the float cracked upon landing. After a few more tosses it broke in two. No problems, says Ron … and off he ran past the high tide mark and returned a short time later with another whole float. “They’re all over here,” he reported. Amazing.

After dinner we returned to the beach for another game and then our nightly ritual of Hearts. As we played, several other groups entered the beach, taking advantage of the lowering tide. No matters … we had the best camp on the beach.DSCF1439_stitch

DSCF1373Monday – pack up and head home

While our day was driven by the tide, we had great grips to go, needing to drive the many hours back to Seattle this day. And again, arise, eat breakfast, pull down the tent, and pack up. Our practiced routine was made efficient by the now, our fifth packing this trip, and the dry weather helped. I’d taken a small “cave” (a man-made opening in the wall that allowed one to avoid crossing on seaweed-slickened rocks) on the way into the Banks and did so again on the way out, and then trudged north across the wonderfully pebbled beaches to the south part of Sand Point.

Here we stopped, snapped a few final shots, enjoyed a light lunch of whatever we each had left, and then marched along the boardwalk to Lake Ozette. The three miles went quickly and, as usual, I was glad to see the car and enjoy the dry, clean clothing. This was the end of our twenty-fourth Test Lab Hike, and it was a beauty.

Thanks for reading all this. As usual, it got long and reminiscing as I typed this made it longer. May your trails be under blue skies and full of sunshine.

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Posted in Hiking | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Lotta planning, little hike

Posted by joeabbott on September 4, 2017

2017-08-18_100846Over the course of the summer I’ve been itching to hike from Steven’s Pass to Snoqualmie Pass. The original plan was to use the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) the entire way but when we calculated the time and distance for some old bones like ours to make the trip, we agreed to use the Trail 1060 cut-off, allowing us to still hike Pass to Pass, but cut off about 8.5 miles from the route … exchanging that for about 2000’ of elevation gain!

The image to the right shows a couple of early trail options we considered … one for Trail 1061 cut off a bit less distance but commensurately started us 1000’ higher. Ultimately we chose Trail 1060, the Surprise Lake trail and were happy for the savings in distance, which we deemed to be our worst enemy.

The “we” in the prior sentence were two of my hiking buddies from the summer; the three of us are desk jockeys and going five-days of 12-15 mile days would be a challenge. We convinced ourselves of the lie that elevation would be challenging, but at a slow pace we could make it happen without too much problem. I say “lie” because the elevation was going to hurt a bunch, but it comes with hiking this part of the PCT so we would just have to find a way.

In preparation for the trip we reviewed books, web resources, and chatted with friends and coworkers who’d been on this part of the trail. We watched the weather, picked up gear that would be lightweight, and mentally (and physically) prepared for the outing. While more time would always be helpful, I felt ready.

While I note we prepared lightweight packs, we clearly don’t know how to do it very well. In spite of all of us prepping our 5-day packs (with emergency sixth day rations) independently, we all showed up at the trailhead with roughly the same weight packs: about 40#. Which is a startlingly heavy pack to carry for 70 miles. I carried a few items I wouldn’t consider “required” but would very much miss over 5 days without … including reading materials and some down\fleece gear that would be sorely wanted if the weather turned for the worse.

In all, my gear weight was just over half the overall weight and included the items in the following list.

imageKnowing what I do now about the weather and the trail conditions, I could have saved probably 5# in weight or more … I would have left home glasses and reading, fleece and my puffy jacket, tarp and knife. It would feel foolish to start paring back my first aid kit more but I could. Same with leaving home the map … but it was less for finding our way and more for knowing what it was that was around us. Admittedly, it was duplicative of the GPS. Still, weather in the Pacific Northwest turns quickly so having the right emergency gear is both smart and will keep you alive.

Other “luxuries” include my “camp cotton”, which is an extra shirt and briefs I only wear in camp. It’s nice to get out of the sweaty clothing and for ten ounces, I’m OK with bringing it. Still, I acknowledge it as a luxury. Same with my second set of clothing … while I’d accepted I’d be stinky (and my “vital pack” included a packet of scent-free wet wipes for toweling off at the end of day), I could have gone uber-stinky and saved about a pound and a quarter by omitting the extra shirt, Lycra shorts, and liner\outer socks. But I can’t recall ever going 5 days without bathing, much less wearing the same clothing … and especially with as much sweating as we’d be doing. Calling this a luxury feels odd.

Finally, there are things like “shoes”, which were actually skelly\neoprene toe-shoes for fording rivers that were less luxuries than “smart gear”. Yes, I could ford barefooted, but it seems stupid given my tender little feets. And so, this is my list. While I was happy that it was about 20#, that was just the half of it.

The other half was the backpack itself (a bit over 3#), food (about 14#), water (about 4#) and group gear … not to mention the stray carabiner attached to the outside and whatnot. I’ve had friends comment surprisingly at my food weight, but at roughly 2.5# per day, I didn’t feel I was going overboard. I could start to shave weight here and, in future efforts might, but this was not a place I wanted to start with saving on the load. Additionally, each day I’d be losing a couple pounds and reasoned that by the start of the last day, my pack would be over 10# lighter! I liked the sound of that!

As I noted in the title, we’d put a lotta planning into this trip. I’d come home from work, busy myself at the computer to continue research, run to the garage where I was prepping gear to weigh out options, and swing into REI with Suzy after errands to consider one or two other options for gear. I eventually bought myself the lighter sleeping bag noted in the weights above (it saved about 2# in weight in my pack and was only about $70 … still a lot of money, but not bad for a sleeping bag), and some carbon-fiber poles. I’m embarrassed at the cost of those so I won’t share that here, but they saved about the same sort of weight as the sleeping bag … and considering I’d be carrying that weight, I called it an easy decision.

DSCF1129And then the trip itself … spoilers: we turned back after the first day, about 14 miles in.

As we headed out of the car, my pack was biting into the top of my butt. Not just an annoyance, but a deeply aching, brutal pressure that threatened to immobilize me by the end of the first day. It was mean. I’m not sure what adjustment I made to get it sorted out, but I was finding myself reaching back to lift and support the pack with my hands at some points. It was really painful and so, I was surprised to find that, at some point, it just worked itself out and I was moving a lot more comfortably, albeit slowly.

DSCF1180One of my friends, however, was just struggling from the get-go. At every stop we’d wait longer and longer for him to catch up, eventually waiting about 15 minutes by the time we hit the 4.5 mile mark, Surprise Lake. While we’d done over 2000’ of elevation gain, he showed up with shaking legs and a pained expression; it was clear he was hurting. We found a place to sit by the lake and after about 10 minutes he confided that his legs were shot, he’d vomited on the way in, and he just didn’t see a way for him to make it without jeopardizing the outing. He was turning back.

While we cajoled and talked about options and generally stalled another half hour, it was clear something wasn’t right when he went to the water’s edge to pump some water and, upon scampering the 8’ up to the rocks we were sitting on, showed his legs were quivering and he’d lost his breath. He was mad, frustrated, and contrite … shaking his head and asking aloud what could be going on. I’ve felt like he has in the past, and I’m not sure what causes it, but I hoped he’d struggle on to camp, rest it up, and have a better day two. He, however, was done.

So, I gave him my bivy so he could sleep out alone, and I took his place in the tent and we parted. It was hard but he felt it was the right call.

My other friend and I continued to the end of the day, making it to the camp we’d targeted and were happy with the distance we made. That said, upon arriving he noted that his foot was taking on an aching that suggested he had a serious problem and he wasn’t sure he should continue.

Earlier in the summer he was in a walking cast and felt he’d made a full recovery, but upon getting up the next morning, he didn’t believe going on was the right call. I didn’t cajole this time, as a serious physical problem isn’t something you should just ignore, and as we left camp, he headed back toward the trailhead we’d left from the day before.

It was an early and disappointing end to a long-planned outing, but it was the right call. Had I not handed off my solo-bivy , I wonder if I’d have continued south. I might, but I also think it could have caused my partner to continue on, and later doctors’ reports suggest turning back was ultimately the right call. The one thing that gets me through is a oft-repeated phrase that has always been true: there’ll be another time, another year.

Thanks for looking in and here’s hoping your outings have been more successful.

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SPOT apologies … sort of

Posted by joeabbott on July 16, 2017

Well, I got out on a hike yesterday with the SPOT using lithium batteries … and, yes, while installing them I saw the printed notice to use only lithium batteries in this unit. And, I think I got better results. First, here’s the map from my wanderings:

image

We started and ended at the far left … at Rattlesnake Lake or, more properly, Cedar Falls Trailhead. Our route took us east about 10 miles on our bikes to the McClellan Butte trail intersection (we cut off about a quarter- to half-mile of the trail by riding in) and then up the hill to the summit. Due to there being a Mountaineers climbing party on the trail, as well as about a half-dozen couples or small groups, we omitted the scramble to the true summit. I find the thrill of being on top of something is diminished by crowds and the danger added with over a dozen others up top just wasn’t worth the risk.

Anyhow, the SPOT did a lot better … it signaled nearly all of the “I’m OK” messages (the checkmarks) but was again pretty spotty (hehe … lame pun intended) on the parts of the trail with even modest tree cover. The ride in took about a leisurely hour and we only got a few tracks marked … interestingly, the coming and going signals were in the same locations (2 and 12, 3 and 11). The trail didn’t appear heavily treed but the route up McClellan’s Butte was … and, as you see, we only got signals out at the summit.

I continue to be hopeful and disappointed by the SPOT performance but the improvement I saw this week was heartening. As you can see, I’m an optimist in these sort of things. I’ll keep dragging it about in hopes of better tracking on my trails to come.

I’ll end with the view I got from the top … a picture-perfect Seattle day with rolling green hills, multiple ridgelines to the horizon and Mt. Rainier above it all. Hard to get much better than this.

WP_20170715_10_55_33_Pro

Thanks for dropping by and taking a look at my doings.

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Where has the time gone?

Posted by joeabbott on September 5, 2015

I used to delight in replying to this question with the nonsensical statement: it’s gone to a small town in rural Ohio. Not sure why I chose Ohio, but it seems diminutive and out of the way, so it felt like a safe place for time to go when it needs a timeout.

But, more importantly, where did I go and what have I been doing?

Mostly, I needed my own timeout; a chance to recharge my batteries, avoid the routines, and just take a break. My life is one of relative leisure, but I felt I needed just a bit more nonetheless. And so I woke up on the weekends, played games or got on with the day, and completely neglected my blog. For a month. I’m back now … not with a vengeance but I’m back. Let’s get on with the stories.

imageAnother hike

When we last parted, my family had been out and I’d strolled up Skyscraper Mountain; my first “summit” in a very long time. Well, that subsequent weekend an old friend of mine took me on a jaunt up Dog Mountain.

It’s a small summit about an hour’s drive from North Bend, WA on forestry roads and of little repute. As the trail is no longer maintained, we had the peak to ourselves that very fine day and, while we didn’t reach the very tip-top, we had gentle sun, gorgeous views, and a good workout.

image

It’s a nice outing and one made nicer yet by joining Syd and her pooch, Roxy.

Paddling on

For the last 22 years I’ve been getting out each summer with a group of guys. I’d say we’re all relatively young but the truth is, that statement only made sense 22 years ago and by now, we’re all getting a bit grey; even the spritest of us.

At one point in our journey I was behind Dan, who doffed his cap and exposed his short-cropped, fairly white/grey hair. I then exclaimed, “what? I’m going to be following a Q-Tip the rest of the trip?!” Dan let me know that cut deeply … and so it became an oft refrain the rest of the day.

But, because I wasn’t sure my legs would hold up to a heavy pack, I chose another kayaking trip; and while it played out similarly to our 2011 outing, we put in a lot of miles on the water and saw a lot of new things.

image

Leaving from Friday Harbor, we stopped at Jones Island for a night. And, as we saw the clouds moving in and listened to the weather reports announcing small craft advisories, we stayed a second night. Dan and I paddled over to Shaw Island that next day, sheltered from most of the wind by the many islands thereabouts, but we got rained on as we moved along. It’s actually not bad and maybe even a little nice.

The following day we were eager to be on our way so, rather than wait for the tides to change in our favor, we paddled against the current and got to Sucia Island just after noon … 4.5 hours in the boat. On the island we staked a campsite and then walked the trails until dark, where we sat shore-side for dinner and played cards until the moon and owls were out. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful spot.

image

We had another day on the water before heading home and we spent that getting close to Friday Harbor. We’d never stayed on Shaw Island, so we paddled over to Indian Cove and put up the tent for the last time this year. As it was high summer we had a lot of daylight left, so we walked the beach a couple times, tossed rocks, read books, and yucked it up before calling it a day.

image  image

And that last day we returned to San Juan Island paddling slowly, going the short distance in as long a time as leisure would permit. The madrona trees were particularly beautiful, their red-brown trunk and branches reaching out from the islands; the tide pools teeming with life, the morning waves gently lapping at the hull. It’s a good time to be on the water. But, we beached soon enough, got home early, and I felt vibrant with no aches or pains to speak of. Good trip.

The rain returns

After a half year of pain in my ankles and knee, the past few weekends felt wonderful; so good I didn’t want to stop my weekend hikes. And so, when my other yearly hike was canceled due to fires in the area we wanted to wander, Pete and I took a much shorter hike just to stay in touch. The rain, however, had returned.

image  image

It returned to the degree that we sat atop Rattlesnake Ledge for a short break, enjoying a small droplet of rain here and there, and before we knew it, everything closed up and we got dumped on. We were completely soaked by the time we got to the car … Gore-Tex or not!

Coda

And that’s about it. I’m sure a thing or two of merit happened in there that I’m missing, but those are some of the highlights. I did manage to finish an August shop project, but I’ll write about that later.

Thanks for dropping in and apologies for the delays. I’d promise better going forward but I’m not sure I can keep up to that commitment. The timeout I took felt good and I’m not sure the leisurely life is done with me yet! Let’s see what tomorrow holds!

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Another outing with Pete: Mt. Adams

Posted by joeabbott on August 10, 2014

IMG_2710imageAbout 10 years ago I started to do a bit more hiking and a bit less climbing\mountaineering; at that time, I found a great partner for annual hikes in the person of Pete, a friend from work.

We don’t pal around but he and his wife have done a few things with Suzy and I (mostly enjoy Cirque du Soleil shows when they’re in town); we work relatively close to each other at work, but we don’t “do lunch”; we have common friends and yet, we don’t bump into each other often at gatherings.

So, it’s either a little odd or perfectly natural that at our annual outings, things just go smoothly and we share a harmonious time together in the great outdoors. I look forward to getting out with Pete every year.

2014 marked our eighth annual outing. I was surprised because it seemed like we’d done this a bit, but I wasn’t ready to hear eight … that’s a biggish number. Our past trips have taken us to:

P7250007Last year was a bit of a death march; in part for the rain, in part of the elevation gain, but mostly because our desk jobs aren’t letting us get the workout we need to be in shape for lugging a bunch of weight up the hill! So, for this year, we wanted an easier hike so I chose Mt. Adams as our destination.

I remembered this area from years ago: as other friends and I were out, we had found a wonderful campsite on a small knoll in the middle of an open field. The site was sheltered by a tree and a happy nearby creek provided clean water. I wanted to find that spot and the relatively flat trails to it for my outing with Pete.

Unfortunately, I was last there in 2001 or something like that and couldn’t remember exactly how to get there. So, in our planning, Pete and I picked a  trail and figured we’d find somewhere to flop when we got there.

Friday

Pete got to my house sometime after 8:30AM, we had a big breakfast, and then hit the road. The time to trailhead was about 3+ hours, but we suffered from “navigation failure” and it took almost 4 hours. By the time we left the trailhead it was past 2PM but with only 5-ish miles to where we would start looking for a campsite, I wasn’t worried.

The trip in was pretty normal for us: we’d head down the trail, sometimes talking, sometimes taking solace alone in a sweaty, slow grind up the hill. The temps were supposed to be moderate, in the 60s, but it felt much hotter; the bugs were merciless. They’d leave you alone for the most part when you walked but, upon stopping, they’d descend in a cloud. It made the weekend tough but you could always flop in your tent or keep walking to avoid them.

P7250016Sometime around 3 miles the mountain opens up and you’re walking literally on the north flank of Mt. Adams. Absolutely glorious and, looking to the north, you’d get peekaboo views of Mt. Rainier. It’s just a phenomenal place to put in a few miles.

While alone on the trail for the most part, at about 4 miles or so we bumped into a guy who noted a marvelous campsite was just a half mile or so up the trail. While his sense of distance was a bit shaky (we’d only gone a couple hundred yards when we spotted it), he was spot-on with his assessment. This would be “home” for the next few days.

The trail crosses a fast-running creek at one point and then descends into a small flat in a wide circuit; the creek takes a shorter route, rushing over a 20’ waterfall where it circles a spot of land, nearly creating a moat around it. At the center of the small island-like spot is a campsite complete with leaning trees for easy food-hanging, access to the creek for water-pumping, and generous flat spots for your tent. We certainly weren’t the first ones to spot this place as a rather established campfire ring and log benches noted this to be a popular campsite, but for the next few days it was ours.

As we’d started from the trailhead late, we wouldn’t get in much of an evening hike. We setup camp, pumped water, and then escaped the heat and bugs by heading into the tent. I took a bit of a snooze before waking and asking what time it was … about 8PM! Guess the hike in took more out of me than I thought!

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We made dinner and then took a quarter-mile stroll to a nearby lake that had some nice views of Mt. Rainier and the setting sun. And, with that, we noted it had clouded up so we headed to the tent, read a bit, and then I drifted off to the sound of the crashing falls and gentle hiss of the quick running stream.

I awoke a couple times that night to address the fact that I’d rehydrated a bit aggressively, and marveled at the night sky; the clouds had cleared and the bajillion stars of a remote sky outlined mountains, displayed the Milky Way, and generally bedazzled my senses. I found the loud waterfall to be a bit unnerving as the usual silent outings I enjoy when camping were replaced with lots of noise. I’m not sure why I was uneasy, but I was, and before I tired of seeing that sky, I headed back into the tent for the rest of the night’s sleep.

Saturday

The next morning I got out before Pete and headed “uphill” to take a look at the surroundings. I didn’t get far but liked what I saw: a high ridgeline of volcanic detritus that led to what I imagined would be amazing views. But, upon getting back to camp and talking over our options, staying on the flat northern trails seemed more to our mutual liking, so we ate breakfast and then headed around to Foggy Flats and the lava fields on Mt. Adams’ NE flank.

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While the SPOT map doesn’t show a trail where we walked, there assuredly was one. Marker #2 was my early morning survey and the markers around #13 and #14 were where we lunched out at the lava fields. In all, we probably hiked four miles out to the fields and that amount back, leaving camp sometime after 8AM and hitting our lunch spot sometime around 11AM.

But, the location was wonderful, the skies a peerless blue, and we found some shade adjacent to a few scrappy trees and friable boulders, where we took lunch and looked over Mt. Adams, the flowing lava fields, and nearby Red Butte (a small dome left by an eruption in the distant past).IMG_2798

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After our quick meal, we took our pics and then headed back. I picking a careful route down the loose and dirty slopes we’d ascended until we met up again with the trail. The miles back to camp went quickly but the uneven footing of the trail left us with sore feet and the bugs and heat were reaching the daily crescendo … and so we escaped to the security of the inner tent.

I dozed on and off a bit fitful in my sweat, while it seemed Pete read for most of the afternoon. At about 5PM I arose for another short hike. Pete declined to join me but my early morning jaunt to look “uphill” left me wanting more, and so I grabbed my gear and headed to the crest that stood between our campsite and Mt. Adams.

The way was mostly easy: from the trail just before the bridge over the creek that ran by our campsite, you wander across a flat meadow to a horse camp sheltered by a stand of young poplar trees. Cut through that to yet another waterfall and ascend the climbers’ trail on the north side. From there, you negotiate the gentle slopes of scree and hard snow to the slabby tops of pyroclastic debris. After that, enjoy the views.

I stopped around 6PM, using time over distance or destination for telling me when to turn around. But, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it a lot. And the “it” here is the being in the mountains, being solo in a great expanse, having worked hard and feeling the strain of travels but still being able to look up and enjoy the day. It was good in a way that’s both deep and personal. I have missed hiking alone in the mountains.

Looking back toward Mt. Rainier

But, the bugs were getting to know me even at these elevations and I hadn’t exactly given Pete my intended destination in the event something went amiss, so I chose to head back.

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Around 7:30PM or so I got back in and, as the bugs were fewer now, we chose to have dinner, catch a few more views of this grand area, and then to call it a day. It was time for a long long restful sleep.

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Sunday

IMG_2839P7270109I didn’t get up that night and the morning saw us both at our usual efficiencies. Breakfast tea and eats were quickly dispensed with, the various trappings of our campsite were gathered and distributed between us, and we took turns moving our gear from the tent to our packs until there was nothing left but to put our boots to the trail and start walking.

And the way out was both quick and uneventful. It’s a mystery how the temperatures on the trail felt so intensely hot while, when we got to his truck, the inside was air conditioning-cold! But it was … and so I put on chilled but clean cotton clothing and prepared for the ride home.

We unfortunately followed his GPS that put us on a very rutted mountain road. It was long and dirty and full of objective hazards. I had the better time of it, as a passenger, but even at that I was tossed about and very much looking for the end to this unkempt thoroughfare. Other than that, the trip was a bit long but held no real challenges.

Upon arriving at my house, my gear was disgorged from his truck, I tossed it into the garage for later cleaning, and Pete and I parted with a handshake as we do after all hikes. Another good year with a good partner at a great location. The bugs and heat were a bit much, but I’d go back to that spot in an instant. And yet, for next year, I’m already thinking, “we haven’t hiked out on the peninsula yet, have we?”

Thanks for dropping in!

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Below Rainier

Posted by joeabbott on August 5, 2013

There’s a hiker at the bottom of the picture, walking away from Mt. Rainier. That’s my buddy Pete … he and I stayed a couple nights at Mystic Lake camp on the north side of Mt. Rainier. I’ll write a bit about it when I get a chance … just thought I’d share a great picture.

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… makes you stronger

Posted by joeabbott on July 28, 2013

A couple weeks back a friend invited me to climb Eldorado and so I’m on a training hike rampage. Last week I did Mt. Pugh on a solo venture and I did surprisingly well. Yes, I did lay down on the trail about 10 minutes off the top and went to sleep (more like “passed out”), but I finally made it and the next day I was still feeling fine. A little tired the day after that, but I was still in pretty good shape.

So it was with an avid interest that I took a buddy of mine up on getting out for another outing; this time we went to Mt. Dickerman.

imageGetting there

Mt. Dickerman is off the Mount Loop Highway, which in the picture to the right is approximately along the red line.

The map itself represents a portion of Washington state NE of Seattle some 50-ish miles. Dickerman lies in the SE section, just across the red line from Big Four Mountain. In an earlier post, I talked about climbing Mt. Pugh … which is due south from White Chuck Mountain (just within the east edge of the map).

So, I headed out to Heath’s house and he drove that familiar route: north on Hwy 9 to Hwy 92, through Granite Falls to the Mt. Loop Highway, and out the 30 miles or so and, just before Barlow Pass, on the north side of the road, we found the parking area for Mt. Dickerman.

The hike

P7210003 StitchThe hike is pretty simple: an easy to follow trail leads you gently up through second growth forest to a summit spread over a few rocky outcroppings along a rolling ridge.

The trip itself is just under 4.5 miles and almost 3900’, so it’s a good, if unremarkable outing. With a partner, it took on the aspect of a leisurely and genial stroll to a high place wherein I took in the sights, took a few pictures and, yes, I took a nap, too.

Napping

While Dickerman gives you a workout similar to what many a closer hike might, you’re typically not heading up Dickerman purely for the exercise: it’s for the view.

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I’ve been up Dickerman a time or two, and this time the trip was improved by the good company of my friend, Heath. He’s a solid hiker, a good partner, and kept a steady stream of conversation going even while I was tuckering out and finding it hard to keep up the pace.

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Coda

If you’re in the vicinity of the Mt. Loop Highway and have the time for a nice hike, consider Dickerman. The views are impressive and, as I found out this past weekend, your journey will be much improved with the right company. Thanks for dropping in and have safe travels.

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What doesn’t kill you …

Posted by joeabbott on July 28, 2013

imageA friend of mine invited me to climb Eldorado and I know I’m not in top-shape, so it was time to train hard. One of my favorite training hikes, albeit, a bit far from home, is Mt. Pugh. Standing just over 7200’, it provides the opportunity to hike roughly 5300 vertical feet in just about 5.5 miles. A solid workout if there ever way one. And it’s on that route I found myself spent and laying on the trail just below the summit when disturbed by a hiker coming off the top.

Let me tell you how I got there.

Getting to Mt. Pugh

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Drive up Hwy 9 to Lake Stevens; from there turn onto Hwy 92 just a couple miles north of town and head east. At Granite Falls, drive through town and get to a stop sign at S. Alder Ave; turn left (north) and you’ll find yourself on the Mount Loop Highway.

The Mount Loop Highway wends and winds gently for some 30 miles or so to Barlow Pass … a spot nearly indistinguishable from any other place on the road except the road here bends north, it changes to a gravel road, and there’s a sign indicating such.

Continue north just over 10 miles and you’ll see a fairly well marked Mt Pugh Trailhead sign. Turn up that forest spur and park about a mile and a half further up at the actual trailhead.

Trail to Lake Metan

The trail, in my mind, is broken into three sections: to the lake, to Stujack Pass, to the summit.

The first section, to the lake, is reasonably boring: about a mile and a half of solid trail that clings tightly to the contours of the mountain and makes no apologies for starting to gain elevation immediately.

However, because you do start grinding up right out of the car, it’s nice to look forward to a reasonably quick stopping spot (Lake Metan) and you’re rewarded with peekaboo looks at a clearing through the trees as you head up. In the pictures below, you can see the character of the trail at this point and the lightening of the sky as I start to approach the lake! P7140008P7140009

The trail is through classic second growth forest: old enough to have a bit of girth on the trees but plenty of signs of prior logging activity for those looking for it. But, the timber industry gave me some great roads to access this wonderful area, so I hold no grudges!

The lake itself is fairly non-descript: no water entry or exit, it’s a largish stagnant pond and the flies and mosquitoes are out in force around it. I felt some burning in my heels, so I stopped to tape them up before continuing. And off I went to the second phase …

Trail to Stujack Pass

P7140016P7140017I’m not sure who Stujack was but if his character was anything like his namesake pass, he was a hard, cruel man.

There are times when I’m walking a trail I feel powerful: my strides are confident, my footfalls sure, and I’m moving at pace; a giant within his domain and surveying a world wholly familiar. Then there was how I’d felt heading up Stujack Pass: spent and drained, plodding an endless stair in a stark and barren landscape; a puny puny man.

Stujack Pass gains roughly 800’ in a quarter mile and while the picture at the introduction of this piece is from the top of the Pass, it doesn’t do the steepness any credit whatsoever.

The photo to the left is as I just about hit the clearing before the Pass; the picture on the right is a small “camp area” at the base of the scree field leading up to the Pass.

In the pictures below, I was having a bit of fun at the challenge that lay before me.

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The way up, however, is fine for the most part. The trail is over rough scree but it’s very solid and won’t move. Also, there are a lot of wildflowers in the area and it’s fun to look at the pretty colors and gentle shapes of these mountain blooms: mountain lupine, fireweed, Indian paintbrush, shooting star … all quite delicate and lovely.

At the top of the pass you get a break before the next leg of the journey …

P7140056Trail to the Summit

The way to the summit looks impossibly improbable as a destination. The picture to the right is the view from Stujack Pass and the way is hardly obvious.

You gain the low ridge in the foreground by scampering up slick heather, muddy granite, and hard-as-stone ice and then chase that up and down until you get before the large blocky summit in the background. From there you ascend a sloping ledge to a cleft and traverse to the right on downward sloping ledges to a rounded mound just beyond the false summit (the two points) you see in the picture below. The entire way you’re following reasonably clear trail signs and there’s never a question of being truly off route.

P7140057 Stitch

I’m shooting the composite picture to the left from a point on the low ridgeline. The route follows the top of the ridge above the snowline on the right edge of the picture; where the ridge meets the summit block, you find an obvious ramp up before threading around to the left and behind the right shoulder seen here.

The picture below is the “trail” as you head up. Look for the trail signs leading from the bottom-center of the picture off to the right and away.

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As I got just behind the false summit, I simply lay down in the trail and asked myself if I really wanted to continue or if where I was at that point was good enough. I’d climbed Pugh before and didn’t remember the exposure and certainly not the fact that it was a bit spooky. I was also dog-tired and needed to rest; my heart had been straining a bit too long.

imageAnd so, as I lay there, I fell asleep. Only for a few minutes, but certainly to sleep.

I awoke to footsteps coming from above, and estimated the owner was about a half dozen yards away. I got up and out of the way and the fella coming down was genial and one of those instantly likeable people. We exchanged a few words and he shared that the top wasn’t even 10 minutes off, even at a slow pace. So with our parting, I continued up and, true to his words, within a few minutes I summited Mt. Pugh.

It was a tough hike but, happily, my legs weren’t sore, just very tired. I spent the better part of an hour on that summit, enjoying the views, the fact that I was alone, and that I’d knocked off a goodly hike. But, sooner than I’d wanted, it was time to pack up and head home.

The way down was without incident. I got a bit off trail following that low ridge below the summit but above Stujack … I just clung to the ridgeline too long. At one point I looked down on hearing voices, saw that I overshot the trail to the Pass, and traversed down to intersect the trail. The snow and ice made things trickier than I’d hoped. I had instep crampons but managed to trip on some mud-slick heather and gave myself a little ice-rash. It stung but there was no hurt.

At the Pass I nodded to a trio of hikers who didn’t appear to be ready to go farther on the trail, stowed my crampons, and headed down the steep scree field.

Trails take on a unique quality on the way down. A path that seems smooth and even on the slow, plodding way up, becomes more root-strewn and rocky on the quicker pace coming down. Before I got to Lake Metan my knees were sore and my feet were afire with pain. I’d estimated I was a mile or so from my car so I started counting strides, thinking I took about a 3’ step, I hoped I’d get to 1000 and then be there. At 1200 I stopped counting but it wasn’t long after that I found myself by my car and eager to get my boots off.

The mosquitoes were ravenous, however, so I had to jump in without changing and drive off the forest road and down to the Mt. Loop Highway before I pulled over and was able to change into clean, dry clothes and put on a pair of sandals. Bliss.

Coda

Mt. Pugh is a great hike in its own but really good for preparing a climber for bigger challenges. I’d be to the top of this peak again, sooner than I thought, but was happy to be off this time. The trip up Pugh definitely will make me stronger but it’ll take a while before I realize that strength. For now, I need a rest.

Thanks for looking in.

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Where has Joe been? Summer!

Posted by joeabbott on July 7, 2013

The small circles of my life have brought me here and there, with the “here” for the most part being “Seattle” and the “there” being largely “Minnesota”. And still, I’ve seen Vermont in the fall, Houston in the summer, Yosemite in the winter, and small slices of time in many places in between. In those travelings I declare Minnesota to having the best autumn: the crisp, clear days, the evenings with the feel of winter coming on; the endless blue of the sky and blazing color of the forest preparing for a rest; and football being the talk and sport of all. I really like Minnesota autumns.

But summer belongs to the Pacific Northwest. The lazy mornings, gentle warmth of the afternoons, and mild sit-out-on-your-deck-and-enjoy-the moderate-temp evenings. Glorious. The horizons are toothed with mountains, there’s plenty of water nearby for those who like such things, and the bugs are (for the most part) mercifully few. Yes, even the rain takes a holiday during Seattle summers.

Here’s how I’ve been filling up those days and weekends for the past month or so.

Week of Suz

WP_20130609_004I have few pictures from WoS this year. It was a mild stretch of days where work schedules kept us from taking too much time off and the main focus was giving Suzy a break from the kitchen and spending a bit of quality time together.

Now, for those who are late to the party, so to speak, WoS is the week we spend celebrating her birthday. This is a tradition we’ve had for a while, I think we picked it up from one of her coworkers: taking an entire week out to celebrate one’s next year on the calendar. In the past we’ve enjoyed lavish events with big gifts and lots of adventure. I’m not sure if this approach has lost its novelty, if too many have tempered our excitement for them, or if we just have everything we need to be happy without adding a lot more to our lives. Regardless, this year Suzy enjoyed a card and small gift each day, we had a nice meal out each evening, and in the spaces in between we’d weed the yard, tend to small chores, or sit on the deck together.

We did make a sojourn down to Legendary Doughnuts, picked up a dozen treats, and promptly froze most of them for later treating. There’s no way we could comfortably eat that many doughnuts and we’ve been to Legendary enough to know what holds well (the Buttermilk Bars are a wonderful treat and freeze perfectly) and what makes a great snack midweek. Even if our current diet dictates only enjoying half a doughnut on any given day.

Oh, and the picture to the left … that’s from a home cotton candy maker that was loaned to us by Suzy’s brother for a later event that I’ll be talking about!

Conrhole Game

P1030629Every year my wife’s family gets together at the beginning of summer to celebrate the late spring, early summer birthdays, to welcome summer, and to spend a day together. Suzy almost always hosts this event and plans a theme around that gathering. I’ll write more about the party in a separate post but for this year I offered to build a “Cornhole Game” boards.

Now, I’d heard about the Cornhole game from back in the Midwest; my brother-in-law Fred explained it’s the one game a Wisconsinite could partake in while maintaining a grip on his beer. Fair enough. The instructions on how to make a game were easily findable on the web … I used this site … and building them was straight forward. Suzy picked up some corn bags from Amazon and we were all set.

The hardest part was painting them but they came out rather well and, in spite of what I thought were obvious flaws, no one said a word.

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Mt. Rainier National Park

imageI taught MOFA (Mountain-Oriented First Aid) for the Mountaineers for many years and quite of few of those years with Syd P. She is an excellent instructor and I miss our yearly socializing time now that I’m no longer involved in teaching. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t get together “just because”. So last year sometime I dropped her a note and we planned to get out and hike. Then the winter rains set in and so we looked forward to spring. Then summer was on us. Fortunately, our schedules and the weather aligned so we took time to get a little hike in. I “let” Syd plan the hike and, either in retaliation for my lack of doing anything or simply because she’s in much better shape than I, she planned a 17 mile hike into Mt. Rainier National Park to the Carbon Glacier and back. In one day.

Wow.

The map to the right shows our route: 8.5 there, and the same number back. Now, for the most part, the trail in was on an old forest service road. A few years back, flooding destroyed the roadbed and they’re only maintaining that first five miles for foot (and bike) traffic. So, pretty easy hiking.

Regardless, it was a long way.

Still, it was enjoyable and a right treat to sync up with Syd, talk about old times, new times, catch up on the happenings of our respective spouses and quiet lives. Good stuff all around.

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imageThe one “bad” part was using my SPOT which, once again, recorded just a fraction of the points along the trail (SPOT map to the right). While I had it on the entire way, it only captured three “hits” from the entire 9-hour tracking session!

Not great.

And. yes, we were under tree cover most of the entire way, but it’s still hard to see my GPS tracking session with it’s roughly 850 breadcrumb tracks (the map above) and compare that to my paid-subscription-SPOT-tracking and see three tracks. Grrr.

I have many more photos up on my Flickr site … just look for the Carbon Glacier 2013 set and enjoy!

Coda

And that’s it! Sure there’ve been other things and the big party (which I’ll write about a bit later), but I’ve had easy going weekends … just the way a summer was intended to be!

Thanks for dropping in!

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Small doings

Posted by joeabbott on February 10, 2013

It’s been a heckuva week here: Suzy and I both got off last weekend feeling a bit ill and we had busy days at work; she had a photo shoot and I had a team-wide meeting I was running. But, we ended the week on a good note (enjoying a little time on Friday watching old TV shows) and spending a lazy Sunday in payment for our Saturday efforts.

imageOn Saturday Suzy did yardwork and I hiked Mailbox Peak. Both efforts left us reasonably sore but much less than I would have thought, in my case.

Mailbox Peak is a local highpoint on a ridgeline just outside North Bend, WA and the trail up it provides a stiff ascent and solid cardio workout. A relatively new friend at work showed a lot of interest in getting out into the hills and expressed concern that none of his current companions gave much of a good showing on the trails: they would do fairly easy hikes and he was ready for more.

I offered a number of options on which to take him but he was new enough to the sport that he had really no opinion. I suggested Mailbox Peak (referred to by many of my friends as Asskicker Peak) and pointed him to the attendant links on the webs where he could get more information.

Mailbox Peak isn’t a formal mountain but the hike is renowned by local climbers as a solid workout and all-around good place to go to a) avoid the masses that head up nearby Mt Si trail, b) try your mettle on a rough trail that goes up steeply, and c) test whether you’re ready for “bigger things”.

With so little to go on from my friend (he said he was running 3 miles a night and hiking nearly all weekends), I opted for Mailbox as a reality check for me and a good workout for him. While it certainly was the former, it nearly did in my friend.

It’s about 400’ vertical and half a mile from where you park the car to the trailhead proper. In typical self-deprecating style and as a way of making conversation, at the trailhead I offered that I was already winded … I was a little surprised to hear my friend (far less self-deprecating that I) echo my sentiment. I started to worry whether this was the right trip for him.

We started up and about a mile into the journey he was having real problems. I offered that we could head back down and find another, easier hike nearby but he convinced me anything short of a summit would be failure and he wasn’t one to back off a challenge. And so up we went. At around 4000’ you start to break out of the trees and while the day was very overcast/socked in, the glare made my lapse of including sunglasses quite trying. Again I offered to call it a day, this time because the sunlight was bugging my eyes, but I was told we needed to summit, and so I continued to plod on: heading up a couple hundred feet, waiting for my friend, starting up again after waiting a few minutes with him.

From the contour map you can see that I nearly made it to the summit: I was about 200 yards from the top when I saw him collapse and not get up. I waited and waited but he didn’t budge. At one point another small group of folks passed him and he remained seated … I knew our day was over. I had the choice of running up to touch the literal mailbox that sits atop the peak, but there were no views on that day and I’ve been to the top of Mailbox Peak plenty often … the summit would wait.

So, I plunge-stepped down to him and he said he was spent, nothing left. We talked, I cajoled, and soon we were heading down: me plunge-stepping, him glisading (sitting down and sliding). The way down was treacherous without traction devices (something I’d errantly left on the shelf on the way out the door) but we got to a spot that allowed us a small meal: he had a box lunch from Starbucks, I enjoyed a chicken sandwich I’d made at home.

While sending out hiking beta for him to share with his wife, or for his own perusal, I left a timeline that had us returning to the cars by 3PM; when I found us leaving our high point at about 2:30PM, I knew our time was blown. I didn’t imagine my guess would be so off.

Through the next couple of hours we’d head down repeating the process we used ascending: I’d march ahead a bit, wait, see him arrive, wait a bit more, and repeat. While I wasn’t annoyed that someone had overdone it and was really tired (how many of my hiking companions compensated for mistakes I’d made in my hiking/climbing career?), I was disappointed this came about because of a machismo credo of “my body may be spent but I can will myself on!” sort of attitude. In my experience, that sort of thinking is overrated. Was Mallory really the first person to climb Mt. Everest? We’ll never know and it doesn’t matter: he didn’t come home.

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Regardless, it was a fine day and one that really tested me in a number of ways. I dropped my chum off at his car and we’ve made loose plans on another hike on some weekend in the near future; he did request that we make it a much easier hike. But, today I’m fit and able to move about without significant discomfort, in part (I’m certain) to Suzy giving my feets a bit of a rub at the end of the day. I also made a call before getting home yesterday saying, “I’m ready for carbo-loading at Azteca (a local Mexican restaurant)” and so we enjoyed that at the end of my long Saturday.

And today? Not much in the way of being too busy: I turned some leaves in Chickenville to give the chickens something to scratch and peck in (and hope to keep them out of the work Suzy did yesterday), I cleared a bit of rubble from the backyard, and enjoyed a small shopping expedition. In all, small doings and I look forward to another busy week. I hope your weekend was as enjoyable as mine. Thanks for looking in!

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