Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hiking Mt Pilchuck

photo from fs/usda 
I spotted this hike on a Facebook page called "365 things to do in Washington" and immediately put it on my bucket list. I was captured by the promise of outstanding views once we reached the top, where a (built in 1921) Fire Lookout is perched. I read up on the trail and was not put off by the description even though it was clear it would be a steep and rocky traverse. We made plans to hike with some friends and headed out.

It was overcast and spitting rain when we left Deming. We met up with Tim and Wendy in Sedro Wooley and rode with them to the trail head. 

We hit the trail head about 10:15. 
It was spitting rain and cold so we put on our extra layers and headed up. 




Once we got under the trees we were dry and of course once you start climbing you get warm. Layers off. The first part of the trail is packed dirt and much like Horseshoe Bend. Ladder type stairs and bridges to cross and climb. Then we hit the rocks.

there's a trail thought that??

pausing for photo ops gave all of us a chance to breathe!

What a strange trail. We were literally climbing up and over rubble that looks like there were massive rock slides but the rocks are so tightly packed together there is no wibble-wobble of any sort. But you do need to be aware of where you are stepping so you don't catch your toe on a sharp rock sticking out and if the rocks are wet, they are slick. 
So it was slow going. Which was fine by me!

a good place to stop and take a group photo

We gained at altitude of around 2200 feet in 3 miles so that tells you how steep it was in places. (btw, the trail info says its 6 miles RT but Wendy's Fitbit said we logged in close to 8 miles RT. We decided to go with 8 because our bodies certainly felt like we had!!)

We took numerous breaks for breathing and resting. I wasn't able to drink water like I have been doing (I was thirsty but didn't want to have to pee on the trail!!) (at least not every 30 minutes) We snacked as we hiked, with lunch at the lookout as incentive. 

beautiful sights like this made me glad to be there despite all difficulties

my best friend, boyfriend and hiking buddy all rolled into one. best of all I'm married to him!

About 3/4 of the way up I tripped and--- down I went. I used my left arm to catch myself so my left thumb/palm took the brunt and I felt it all the way up to elbow. I didn't cry but I did make "Owie" noises. I was able to get going again right away but man did my hand hurt the rest of the day. 

just after I climbed these stairs I took my fall. boo.

roadside attractions

Bruce and I were both moving slow but steady and the Crandall's don't hike that much faster plus Wendy was searching out several geocaches while we traversed. She found a few!

the first Geocache of the day!

We experienced rain, wind, fog, cold, near sun-breaks and more fog, mist and clouds. It was beautiful in that and when we were able to catch glimpses of mountain ranges to our left (north? west? I have no idea) it was wonderful. Even with all the clouds blocking a full view. 

God made this!

God made this!!

We reached the lookout around 1:30? and quickly figured out that the trail into the lookout was much to risky for wise old mature people like us. 
There wasn't a trail, just a rubble of more rock to pick your way across. 
It was wet and slick and you really needed mountain goat abilities to cross. 
is there a trail? 

well others are doing it... do we?

We watched young nimble brave (or foolish) hikers do it and they assured us it was a rather scary/hairy experience. (and that was going up. coming down would present another big challenge!) That convinced us to just admire the look out and not try to get up any closer. Bummed about not getting up in it but we wouldn't have had that much more of a view given the heavy cloud cover. 

taking in the view from below the look out

as close as I'm going to get

We tried to find some dry spots to crouch and eat our lunches, swatting off bugs as we did. Once we stopped moving the flies and mosquitoes were rabid about finding their own source of food supply and a moving target is harder to hit. We made it a pretty short lunch break and since it was raining a bit harder at that point, it made no sense to sit in the open and get wet. We left around 2:10 to head back down. 

one of many phenomenal rock formations we came across. 

Wendy had brought trekking poles so we each had a pole for stability as we made our way back down. 

thick fog rolling up the hills

My thighs and knees were already aching as we climbed and my backpack, light as it was, was pulling on my neck and shoulders plus my  left hand was throbbing. It wasn't much fun anymore for me at this point but I was determined to not be whiny. But as we climbed down, each step was one more agonizing movement than the last. My knees were NOT happy. 

At one point the water I desperately had needed to take in, desperately needed to be released so the Crandall's went ahead on the trail and Bruce stayed back so that I could go into the bush and make tinkle without being surprised by other hikers (of which there were many)  (squatting to make tinkle by the way, when your knees are hurting, isn't very much fun, nor easy, and I was quite afraid I might topple over and make tinkle in places I didn't want to) 

Tired, sore and hurting, chilled and thirsty, I was moving slower and slower. Tired makes for clumsy in my world and I had a few near misses as I tripped and slipped. Thankfully the trekking pole slowed me down and kept me upright but I sure felt that in my shoulder! (Eventually my hero took my backpack from me and carried it in addition to his own)

smiling despite the pain! 

We made it back to the car around 5. I traded muddy wet shoes for my Chaco's, my wet rain jacket for warm dry fleece and ate my juicy orange and downed my water. Aaah. That's better. Then there was the added satisfaction that I had completed the hike. I did it! Whether I made it into the Lookout or not, I did make it to the top. Bucket List check!

Rating the hike on a scale of 1-10 for enjoyment, I'm giving it around a 4. It was a lot of hard work without a lot of return on my investment. If that sounds like I'm not being very appreciative think of this:  If you have to keep your eyes down all the time to watch where you are stepping,(which on this trail, you really need to) you can't really take in the views and since that is one of the main reasons I like to hike, I was feeling a little deprived. However when I was able to stop and look around me, I was immensely pleased. 
There were many "WOW! WOW! WOW!" moments. 

how beautiful are the feet... 

Even with the cloud cover there was so much vastness and beauty. Not making it into the Lookout also causes me to give this hike a lower score. But that was my choice and it was based on common sense and safety. If it had been dry and clear, who knows. I might have been able to make that last ascent. 

All in all, it was a wonderful outing.
 Time spent with friends. 
Time spent in nature. 
Time spent with my sweetie. 
Time spent taking in God's Amazing creation. 
Time well spent. 
Well spent indeed. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

thank you so much for taking time to read and comment! have a great day!