Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Pirate Takes A Hike

the plan------

it's only 3.2 miles from the trailhead to the top of mt townsend. i can read topo maps. it is also an increase in elevation of at least 2100 feet. the first almost mile is about 1000' up. the next mile is almost flat. the last mile is again 1000'+ uphill. i just forgot what 1000' up in a mile or less is like to actually walk. no switchbacks up to mt townsend, i noticed, remembering my last big uphill thing at whitney portal, on the eastern side of the sierra nevadas. (which was a mere 1700' in three miles.) so i thought: piece o' cake, 2 hours up. food. pictures. 2 leisurely hours down.

reality unfolds-----

i got a bit of a late start because i missed a road. it was marked, as i found out after backtracking 6 miles and guessing at which road it must be (ok, i was kinda asleep about distance) about 300' along after the intersection. that's 300' along the side road i needed. no sign on the road i was on. anyway. trailhead at 10:45 am. pictures and gear check. i'm off.

well. i do march right along, keeping a brisk pace. 15 minutes and i'm seriously paying attention to breathing. and noticing my usual sweating, when even a bit hot. doffing my outershirt, down to t-shirt, shorts, and my thongs (footwear, not underwear!). i stride right up the first steep part at a decent pace. huffin' and puffin' but still, i'm in the forest. the light changes with every step. thousands of trees and flowers and shrubs of the same type, and yet each unique.

the middle mile, and i'm glad to reach it, is some up, some down, along the north side of the mountain. damp. mushrooms. mossy. a nice view out through the trees to the strait of juan de fuca, but not an open enough view for a photo. then a quarter mile steeply up and the whole of the western view to the higher peaks of the olympic mountains opens up. pictures. off again.

the final almost mile and almost 1000' had me thinking i had to yield something to geezerhood (i rethink this on the way down). this part of the trail is just at and above treeline. the trees are wizened and stunted from the fierce winter wind and cold. the flowers are small and stunning. the trail is a rut in the tundra, and obviously a stream in the spring. the view to the west is a deep gorge and then rank upon rank of mountains. craggy, rocky, steep. to the east, till the apex, is the mountainside. then a view across the sound to mt baker. look. i see a ferry boat arriving at port townsend.

i reached the top of mt townsend at 12:50 pm. ok. 2 hours up, close enough. i am tired. and hot. 5 minutes of rest tho and i'm up, sandwich in one hand, camera in the other, roaming around the rocks on top looking at the various vistas. i feel good. i can see my truck 2000+ ft below, where i parked. food and water consumed. time to go. i start down.

DAMN. this is steep. am i going the right way? did i come up this trail? of course i did. i do have a very good sense of direction and remember clearly the way i came. see! there is the flower i photographed on the way up. i did, however, put aside the angle of ascent on the way up, preferring to focus on the view and the scent of mountains. here is the place where rethinking geezerhood limitations comes in. anyone would breath hard going up this trail. this is so steep i am limited to small careful steps or to running. now, i love running downhill and have run down some steep rocky mountains, but that was a year or ten ago. so i run some and trot some and walk some. and then i'm back at my truck.

the judgement-----

a nice hike. a bit steep. well, a lot steep. just a bit over 6 miles out and back, or up and down. not that long but challenging enough for me. a very good day.

from the trailhead, looking up at mt townsend. the bump on the left is actually the highest point. later we will look back down here from up there.

from the backside looking southwest.

mountain flower

another flower

kilroy was here. and left this brass marker at the top of mt townsend. 6278' above sea level.

looking out at discovery bay, port townsend, and mt baker in the distance. if i could put a little arrow on this picture i could point it to our house. to the neighborhood anyway.
update!!! check out the arrow. it points to where our house is, or close enough anyway.

if you click on this picture to make it big you may see a white truck at that major bend right in the center. my red truck is parked next to it. we're looking down 2000'+ at the place from which i took the first picture above.

my truck from about 1/4 mile out on the way back. a welcome sight!


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