Friday, July 23, 2010

Observation Peak Hike

Ahh - my first weekend back from South Dakota and I was hankering to go hiking.  I pulled out my Sullivan book.  It was time to try a new trail.  Observation Peak in the Trapper Creek Wilderness of Washington State.  I'd looked at that hike in my book many times.  It was time to go there.

This way to the top!

I had my choice of three trails to the top of Observation Peak; a long 13-mile 3200' elevation gain quad-buster, a reasonable 8-9 mile and 2000' elevation gain trail, or a relatively easy 6 miles with 1400' elevation gain.  I took my time getting ready that morning, trying to make up my mind.  I puttered around long enough that when I finally left the house it was 9 am.  I realized after driving to the trailhead, I'd only have enough time for the shortest hike.  So my decision was made!

The trail began in this beautiful old-growth forest

After first stopping by Freddy's for some 'skeeter repellent (I'd heard rumors they were out) I headed my car towards Carson, WA.  It was paved roads to the trailhead, except for the final 4 miles, which seemed to take forever (there was a few potholes to dodge!)

Avalanche lilies

I was only the second car at the trailhead.  Good!  I'd have the place mostly to myself!  I heard another vehicle pull up just as Bear and I began walking away.  I'd run into this person later on the summit.

My cute doggie

The trail began in this beautiful old-growth forest.  After a half mile or so we crossed a boggy area where the ground was covered with avalanche lilies.  As I stopped to take some photos, the 'skeeters decided to attack.  Time to break out that bug repellent.  I was so glad I thought to bring some!

Mt. Adams

After a mile, I reached a nice viewpoint.  I could see Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier.  The weather was great - clear and sunny - so the mountains stood out like gleaming white mounds of snow against the blue sky.

Bright pink flowers on the rocks

I stopped at a couple of viewpoints on the way to the top, to see the mountain vistas.  I could see Mt. Adams, Rainier and St. Helens on the horizon.  I spent lots of time taking photos of the fabulous views.

Mt. St. Helens rises over the surrounding hills

Just as I was making my final climb to the summit, I began hearing gunshots in the distance.  Someone was out in the woods target shooting.  Bear doesn't like loud booms, so the gunshots began to freak him out.  I coaxed him to the top and got out my lunch, thinking food would distract him.

Mt. Hood view from the top of Observation Peak

But poor Bear was not interested.  He heard some more rounds, and ran off into the woods.  I called and called for him, but he didn't come back.  I sat and ate my lunch for awhile, thinking maybe he'd return.  Then I began to get worried.  What if Bear had ran off and was lost?

Two summit view - Rainer and St. Helens

Just then a man and his dog appeared from the trail.  The man told me that Bear was lying in the bushes just below the summit.  I was relieved to know Bear was close by.  Bear then emerged from the bushes, curious about to meet the man's dog.  They sniffed each other for a moment, until another gunshot sent Bear running back to his hiding place.  I decided to let Bear stay where he felt safe, and began taking photos of the great mountain panoramas on the summit.

I am woman!

The views were wonderful.  I could see five Cascade peaks - St. Helens, Rainier, Adams, Hood and Jefferson.  It was a parade of blue sky and mountain peaks.

The man and I talked hiking for awhile, trading favorite hikes and me recommending gear and guidebooks (I tell everyone to buy Sullivan's book - I should get a commission!)  We then took photos of each other on the summit.  Through all of this Bear remained in hiding.  I finally decided it was time to leave and get my dog out of range of the gunshot sounds.

Roadside tiger lilies

The hike down was uneventful.  Even the 'skeeters weren't as bad.  I got back to my car and began the long drive home.  I remembered seeing a patch of beautiful tiger lilies on the side of the road on the way in.  Upon seeing them again, I decided to make a quick stop and take a few photos.  I was on a one-lane gravel road, but thought "no one's up here - what are the chances a car would drive by?"  Well - I had taken about three shots when two pickups came barrelling down the road.  They hit the brakes and I sheepishly ran to my car to move it out of the way.  After that, I took a few more quick shots and left!  But I did manage to get a couple of nice pictures of the flowers.

What a great way to spend a sunny Sunday.  There's nothing better than a trip in the woods to climb up a summit with awesome mountain views.  This is why I love hiking!

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