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June 2004 Archives

June 4, 2004

Mount Townsend


Time to hit the trail again. We had wanted to Mt. Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula during the spring. We climbed it last year in late July and it was wonderful. Lots of flowers in bloom. We noticed that there were many rhododendrons at the beginning of the trail and we wanted to go back in the spring to see the rhodies in bloom.

The day dawned early and bright. We easily rolled out of bed as the day was clear and sunny and made the 7:55am ferry. It is great going during the week because you can almost drive right on the ferry. The drive to Quilcene was leisurely and we turned on Penny Creek Road which leads to FS # 27. The flowers started right away and increased as we got nearer the trailhead. First off were bright red columbines but soon we saw the pale to dark pink blossoms of our state flower, Rhododendron. They were blooming all along the road and especially up in the clear cuts. It was cool to look up a clear cut slope and see the splots of pink. Indian paintbrush and blue lupine lined the road as we drove further along.

mt.-townsend.jpg After about an hour from the ferry, we parked in the upper trailhead. There were two other cars and another car pulled in just as we started the hike. The forested trail starts climbing right away at a 20% grade. You hardly notice the grade because the trail is in excellent condition with few rocks or roots to step over. The rhododendrons were not in bloom in the forest. We couldn't decide if it was because of the elevation or the shade. We also noticed that there were not that many flower buds.

After about a mile or more, the trail, leaves the forest and starts switchbacking up out of the valley. In a week or two, the hillside should be in bloom, but right now the paintbrush is just starting to color and most all the other flowers are just emerging. There are some nice bright pink patches of douglasia along the way and lots of phlox. We did come across a large patch of chocolate lilies which was nice to see.

After about 2.5 miles, we reached Camp Windy and a few snow patches. Shortly after this is the junction to Silver lake. We continued up switchbacking amoung the juniper and knickaknick. The views were outstanding. We could see Rainier to the south. Glacier peaked just the tip above the foothill haze and we could see Mt. Baker to the north. Squinting, we could actually see a few of the downtown Seattle buildings in the haze.

After 2 hours and 4 miles, we reached the crest and walked along the ridgeline to the summit. mttown3.jpg It was a little windy but still warm enough to enjoy our lunch. There was no snow above Camp Windy even at the top. There were a few plants in bloom at the top; mostly geum and cinquefoil.

We were just finishing up our lunch when another party made it to the top shortly followed by several other parties. It was time to leave. We made it back down in about 1 1/2 hours. We weren't as lucky making it to the ferry. We hit the 3:30 peninsula traffic and just missed the 3:45 ferry. Oh well, the day was warm and we napped waiting for the ferry.

And we weren't tired at all. It was an 8 mile RT hike and 3,000Ft gain. But was I hungry. I made a big bowl of penne pasta with a sauce of ham and peas in cream. Yummmm.. A load or two of laundry and finally it was off to bed.

June 18, 2004

Miller Peak-Iron Bear

We need to start getting some mileage per hike. Whitney is 22 miles and we need to make certain we can 'go the distance'. G said we need to look for a hike with more mileage. "Maybe we can find something in a loop".

That gave me an idea. I have a copy of "Best Loop Hikes in Washington". We love the Teanaway area on the eastern slopes of the Cascades so I found a great 12 mile loop; Iron Bear-Miller Peak Loop.

We've done different parts of the trail. We did Miller last year and it was great. We did part of Iron Bear just a couple of weeks ago when we did Teanaway Ridge. County Line Trail combines the two. Perfect.

What was even better was there was a great trip report last week on just this hike. So off we went.

The day was forecast to be warm so we got an early start. It takes about 2 hours or so to make it from Seattle to the trailhead. There was just one other car so it looked promising. The trail is popular with motorcyclists so we really didn't expect solitude but one can hope.

We followed the recommendation in the trail guide and went counter-clockwise so the sun could be at our back. The Iron Bear trail starts very level along the stream. It bubbled happily in the morning. The normal woodland flowers although we found some outstanding white shooting stars along the streambeds.

After about two miles, the trail turned north and started climbing to the ridge. The area became more open and rocky and the plants we found were the normal rocky favorites in the Teanaway; Indian Paintbrush, Scarlet Gila, phlox and at the ridge, bitterroot.

We came to the junction of the trail from Blewett Pass that we had done a couple of weeks early. We didn't recognize it in the sun and continued up switchbacking up the slopes of Iron Bear until we reached the summit and view off over the area. What a view! Along the way we passed our first hiker, a solo backpacker. Little did we know that this would be the only person we saw the whole day.

After a quick Lunabar, we were off. Down we went to the junction to County Line and then down a steep slope. Boy we were glad we weren't coming up. We came across a couple of really different columbines. miller2.jpg
After the pass, we started up towards Miller passing through an interesting rock formation and then on up to a stunning view of the Ingalls Ridge and the Enchantments.

Waves and waves of yellow balsamroot daisies waved in the cooling breeze. I love the openness and feeling of air you get from trail. It isn't steep but the vistas and ridges go on for a distance. We stopped for lunch while we savored the view. We continued up to the junction with the Miller trail and a couple more switchback to the saddle below Miller.

I was getting tired by now. We had covered 8 miles and probably close to 3000ft. G went on ahead but I surprised him by following him on up. It was a test. If I can't do this... how in the hell am I going to make Whitney?


The distant peaks were clouded but you could still see a few of the peaks like Ingalls. By now, it was almost two and we needed to head out. We headed down and made a quick pace to the car. Of course, we stopped along the way to pay our respects to the little brownie orchid we found previously. It was still there but the patch seemed much smaller. Had it been disturbed? Did it have difficulties over the winter? Let's hope it makes it another year.

Onward and after a bit, we were at the car. A wonderful glorous day. The solitude and vistas left us with a peace that stayed for days. Plus it was a great workout; 12 miles, 3900ft elev 8 hours.

June 20, 2004

Rattlesnake Ledge


Okay... so we didn't get enough with the Miller Loop. It was originally going to be the Richmond Beach stairs again but the day was so nice we decided to check out the new trail up to Rattlesnake Ledge.

We got an early start hoping to beat the hordes of families going up on Fathers Day and the heat. We made the trail head by 10:00 and headed up.

You can tell it is a new trail right off. The usual suspects of roots and rocks are gone as it swings a bit more towards the north. It has a gentler angle but still isn't too bad; 2 miles, 1100ft to the ledge.

To get a good workout I picked up the pace. Without rocks and roots, you can really get going up the hill. Forty-Five minutes later we were at the ledge! Much better time. We scarfed down a couple of Luna bars and headed down. The families were out and we made frequent stops allowing the uphill climbers to come up. By 1pm we were back at home and working in the garden.

This page contains all entries posted to Postcards from the Trail in June 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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