Saturday, March 8, 2014

March 1, 2014 and the forecast was 20% to 30% chance of rain. I was looking forward to a rather easy hike to a mountain I had done just once before. We met Bruce and Bill at the trail head (if you can call a wide spot on a forest service road a “trail head.” After some catching up and friendly conversation we took off. Jeff had never been there and didn't know what to expect. The elevation change isn't great at first and because of a clear cut on our right the views were pretty darn good. But we soon took a short cut through the woods. It was a route Bill had discovered and it may have been steeper. It was definitely bushier than the route we had done before. We crossed (with only a little difficulty) a stream once or twice. As we climbed higher I noticed a lack of wind and our pace seemed pleasant.

 Before I knew it we were standing on the round grassy summit looking northwest and identifying landmarks where the Straits of Juan de Fuca meet Puget Sound. I removed my gloves for lunch; it was that warm at the top. Standing there looking out at the islands reminded me how lucky we are to have a mountain so close to home. Lucky to have the freedom to climb a little mountain in winter and have it to ourselves. Not another sole did we see the whole day. By the time we were finishing lunch a cold wind started from the southwest and someone mentioned rain, but I never really felt it. I put on my faithful wind-shirt and that was all I needed.  The sky was gray then, but on the way down the sun came out and as we left the woods near the clear cut. Jeff had his GPS and I was surprised at the elevation gain and distance. I would have imagined much less. I didn't think about it in advance, but I don't think I would have predicted such a pleasant and rewarding trip if you would have asked me prior to the hike. The mountains are always full of surprises.

 Because we have not seen other people in this area, and enjoy that aspect, I feel inclined to not say exactly where we were. It isn't anything too exciting. Just one of those foothill mountains you see from the highway and wonder if anyone has ever bothered to climb. We did. We do. We will again some winter day. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

March 1, 2014
Hurricane Ridge finally got a good accumulation of snow, several feet and deeper in some places.   A skier we saw said the snow was too soft the day before, but Jack Frost had hardened up the top layer of snow over night. We headed up there and decided on hiking out the Obstruction Point Road.  Part of the reason we didn't climb Hurricane Hill was that it was windy and about 32 degrees.  The other reason was that I had been there recently.   We went well beyond Steeple Rock.   We started at ten o'clock and stopped at noon and had a half hour lunch.   It was a great winter adventure.  Even with snowshoes we occasionally fell through the crusty upper layer of snow up to our knees.   Jerry said he thought he might brake a leg on one of his falls and he wasn't kidding.     Don and I lagged behind the others and took a little extra time coming back up the rather steep snow bank to the road.   It was good for me to get out and stretch myself a little.   We did get some peekaboo views that were glorious. It is a spectacular place to be in wintry weather.  Well worth the two hour drive up there.  
I didn't have time to paint a picture today, so I threw in this picture I panted of Mt. La Crosse I did last summer. 

Lower Lena Lake In Winter

February 25, 2014
Due to fog we never saw the lake.   Nevertheless it was a nice winter hike.  We didn't see anyone else on the trail, and we like that.   If the peace and quiet and the escape from busy "civilized" world is what you are after go hiking in the winter when there is snow on the ground.  Even the popular over used and sometimes crowded Lower Lena Lake was void of any others.  It takes me back to when I was young and first hiked in the snow covered woods in the Cascade Mountains.  A feeling of wonder and independence that does not seem possible elsewhere.  My hiking buddies this day were all younger than I am, but for some reason they didn't seem to want to venture beyond the lake.  I certainly felt strong enough to do so, but on the other hand the 3 miles and 1100 foot gain was adequate exercise for he day.   I put on Microspikes  for the trip down the snowy trail.   I wrote the "Monday Hikers" and gave them a description of the conditions and advised they take Microspikes.   A large group of them (too large) are headed up there on Monday.  You might say we broke trail for them.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Duckabush Falls

On Thursday (2/14/13) Jeff and I hiked the Duckabush Trail.   Jeff had always wanted to take pictures of the falls you can barely see through the woods on the switchbacks headed up to "Big Hump".   We found a likely place to traverse over to the falls and started out.  It took about 15 minutes to get to the base of the falls and we spent a half hour there taking pictures and climbing around the falls.  The trip over isn't very brushy, but there is some large blocky loose rock on a moderately steep side hill so it takes some energy to get there and back.   We were impressed with the falls.   It isn't easy to get a good picture because of trees and fallen logs.   I painted this watercolor when I got back.   We proceeded up to what people call the "Big Hump" that is not really the high point.  It is a short bushwhack and a short rock scramble to get up to some views, but that is another story.    We had lunch in the sun and although we only did about 9 or 10 miles and only gained about 1900 feet, it was plenty of exercise.  The trip out was without incident.  We went on to the Dose road and saw a herd of elk not far from the road.  We then walked up to Rocky Brook Falls.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Heather Park Trail Feb. 3, 2014 with snow

We had a group of 8 for this winter hike up the Heather Park Trail.   Personally I did not make it all the way to the top, but stopped just a little short of what is called "Shelter" on the map.  The snow started getting deep, but mostly I was thinking about how tired I would be when I got back to the car.
And I was very tired.   I painted this little watercolor sketch from a picture Jeff M. Took near where we had lunch in the sun.  I had a hard time getting the rocks right.  It doesn't look much like his picture (which was lovely, BTY) but it gives you an idea of what the high alpine environs start to look like up high. I used microspikes on the way down, didn't take snowshoes, but they may have been necessary if we had gone any higher. (Feb. 3 in spite of what I wrote on the painting?!)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Hurricane Ridge: January 13 5757 feet

Hurricane Ridge: January 13, 2014           5757 feet

I was ambivalent about doing this hike, but when I found out Ginny was driving my indecisiveness waned. It was certainly one of those hikes that turned out to be superb in spite of the weather forecast or any misgivings I may have had the day before. We drove to Poulsbo and car pooled with Ed and Steve in Ed's new Subaru Outback. Although it was a “Monday” outing Ginny and I avoided the crowds by exploring a minor secondary summit of Hurricane Hill and by the time we got to the real summit we missed the larger assemblage. The snow was only a foot or two at most, much less than the usual for this time of year. Snow shoes were not required, but on our side trip Ginny got to try out snowshoes, perhaps for the first time. Most people used micro-spikes, but I didn't feel it was necessary and I prefer to work on my skills on snow and ice without them when there is little chance of serious injury. I know that may seem odd, but I feel like a person should be able to negotiate minor problems in snow and ice by improving balance, using care to place your feet properly, and selecting a good path through obstacles to begin with.

We were well above the clouds atop hurricane hill. Mount Baker was clear in the distance, and we could easily see Griff Peak, Unicorn Peak and Unicorn Horn, while the Straits of Juan de Fuca were covered with clouds. We lunched in the sun on top and made a quick descent chatting with a some people from the “Kalahhane” hiking group.See our track in red.
Mt. Walker: January 4th, 2014, 2739 feet

Mount Walker is 2 miles up and 2 miles down via the trail. Oddly enough the Mt. Walker road is FS 2730 and the altitude at the summit is also 2730. Coincidence or preternatural event? In winter you have to add a bit because there is a gate where the road hits highway 101 and you have to walk to the trailhead. The trail is #894 and it is popular. The elevation gain is about 2000 feet to the summit which is 2805'. The trail is well maintained by WTA, who happened to be working there on this day. At the top it is easy to see the peaks from Mt. Constance to Mt. Townsend and beyond. There is a second summit where the sun happened to be shining this day and it was well worth the walk to that view. We had 11 people in our group because it was the first hike of the year. That has been an annual tradition, as far back at least when I joined the climbing group in 1998. There is only one rocky outcropping I know of. It is on the left side of the trail going up and offers an early viewpoint on a clear day. I won't go into more detail here because there are many books and sites on the internet that describe the trail. I did sketch an illustration of the trail because I don't think I have seen that done before.   Also a watercolor painting of the view from the top (that I was not pleased with, but we artists are our own best critics sometimes).