I'm fortunate to have a flexible work schedule, with every other Friday off. These Fridays are regarded as "bonus days" and thus I make sure they're used for fun activities (no wasting them doing chores!). This past Friday found me with a day off but no plans. Time for a hike!
|My well-worn hiking bible|
As some of you know, my long-time goal is to hike all 100 hikes in William L. Sullivan's "100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon" book. I bought his first edition back in 1994. Although the book has been updated several times since then, I still use the original first printing as my guide. Friday I consulted with my "hiking bible" for another hike I'd yet to complete. Three Corner Rock popped to the top the list.
|The muddy road|
|Nice forest path|
Then, about six miles later, my car encountered what I thought was another deep gravel layer. I soon discovered it was not. Attempting to climb through the muck, my Subie lost traction and started to slide, fishtailing as it struggled to regain a grip on the road. This wasn't gravel - it was mud! Thick, sticky mud. Uh-oh!
Thanks to all-wheel drive, I powered through the boggy mess. Thinking maybe this was an isolated incident, I continued on. But no, around the next corner another mudpit awaited. And another slip-n-slide to get through it. This pattern continued for several more miles.
|The avalanche lilies were out in force!|
But my Subie performed amazingly. It muscled through that mud no problem. I kept driving further down the road, hitting more and more deep pockets of slime. But my car cut through it like butter. It started to feel like I was in a Subaru commercial! (Subaru, if you're reading this, give me a call)
|Pretty bleeding hearts|
|Still snow on the trail|
To hike or not to hike? I thought long and hard. With so much time and effort expended to reach this point, it would be a shame to turn around and leave right away. And I really wanted to check this hike off my list. I finally shouldered my pack and started up the trail, promising myself to turn around if any rain began to fall.
|My pup in the flowers|
|Amazing flower patch|
But thick fog descended almost immediately, and didn't let up the entire way. After a mile, I passed a side trail to what looked to be a viewpoint. Sadly, there was nothing to see but white.
|Foggy steps lead to the top|
About a half mile from the spur trail to the summit, Bear and I encountered our first snowbank. It's been a cold spring here in the PNW, and the snow has been slow to melt. As I climbed closer to the summit, the snow patches became more numerous.
|Views? What views?|
Finally, I reached an old road that would lead me to Three Corner Rock's summit. The ancient track was a mixture of snow and deep, slimy mud. Arrghhh! Not mud again! And this time I didn't have my Subie. But we were too close to stop now, so Bear and I waded through the muck.
|Nothing to see here|
The top of the mountain was in a thick fog bank. Landmarks were hard to discern, and it was a little difficult to determine Three Corner Rock's summit location. Luckily, I had my map and guidebook, otherwise I think I'd have missed the trail. I found the trail hewn through the rocks, and then steps concreted into a boulder field that got me within 12 feet of the summit proper.
|The sky began clearing as I hiked back down|
Hooray! Success! I scrambled the final 12 vertical feet to the very top of Three Corner Rock. But my victory was for naught. Due to the fog, there were no views to be had that day. No reward for my climb through the forest, snow and mud. I was left admiring the foundation blocks from a long-gone fire lookout tower.
|Love this ultra-green forest|
So after a quick lunch break, and a couple of self portraits in the fog, Bear and I headed back down. Following the foggy road, I almost missed the return trail turnoff. If it wasn't for Bear starting down this path as I marched on by, I would've missed it entirely. My dog is better than a gps!
|One final trillium|
Traveling back through the forest, I noticed the sky beginning to brighten. The fog started to lift. By the time I reached the viewpoint again, there was actually a view to see. And it was some great scenery. The forest stretched out for miles, and I could now see the distant green hills. Too bad things couldn't have cleared off while I was sitting on top of Three Corner Rock.
|Another hike checked off in the book!|
I made my way back to the trailhead, where I discovered another car - a Prius of all things - parked next to my Subie. And I thought, if a Prius can make it down that nasty, muddy, road I should have no trouble getting back out. And I didn't. But, boy did the bottom of my car get coated with mud! Back at home, I spent the better part of 30 minutes spraying it out of my wheel wells. Then it took another half hour just to clean all the mud off the driveway!
No matter, it was a good adventure. And another hike to check off in my book. I'll have to make a return trip someday, to see the views I missed. But I think next time I'll wait for drier weather. :)