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[personal profile] canyonwren
Project "Condition for my next 100-mile hike" continues. I wanted to do two two-fer weekends in a row, but both of these hikes left me completely blasted. Next weekend, I'm doing a 26 mile/2 day backpack, so it'll be my first two-fer in quite a while. (Through heavy bear country, too. Woo.)

Last weekend, I set off to do Tuck and Robin.
Mileage: ~13.5
Butt-kicking factor: 3.5 Cascade Stars out of 5

I've wanted to hit those lakes since forever, but the trailhead is shared with many other hikes that I've also really enjoyed. Paddy-Go-Easy is a mile or so down from the trailhead; Cathedral Rock, Peggy's Pond, Lost Lake, Deception Loop, Marmot Lake, and the jaunt over to HWY 2 also start from the same point.

Got up at 5 am, left by 5:30. Got to the Teanaway-area trailhead, past Roslyn, at 8:30 am. Sadly, this still turned out to be a little late to get to Robin lakes.

There is a point on the dirt road out to the trailhead where you have to drive through a stream. It was up higher than I'd ever seen it, but after this long of a drive, I decide to gun through it anyway. The road dipped sharply enough that combine with the car twisting a little in the water, I ended up banging the front end just a bit. I discovered a small crack the next day, so I'll be visiting the body shop pretty soon. (Alternately, the crack could have come from the vicious carwash I used the next day -- it ripped by license plate holder completely off, bent my plate up 90 degrees and possibly scratched up the side of the car. Um. Next time I'll take the brushless option, please.)

The start of this hike I've done before--it's pretty easy for the first 3 miles, then it gets harder. At 4.5 miles, the sidetrail to Tuck and Robin shoots off to the right. Following the trail will lead to the multiple branches off to at least three other hikes. The trail dips down shortly and consulting the map leaves you with the false reassurance that you only have two miles to go. But those two miles. Ugh. "Where's the trail? Oh, up that cliff." It's a really challenging trail from this point on. I hit Tuck lake at exactly noon.

By this point, the heat of the day had hit. I crashed on a boulder by the lake for a while, then eventually pulled myself up to go find the route up to Robin. It's a tricky logjam river crossing, followed by a steep route up the granite face. I headed up over a towering rock slope and circled around the lake---and discovered a million goat trails. Every time I thought I'd discovered the correct route, it'd cliff out or lead me to an insanely dangerous river crossing, and I'd spot a fluff of goat hair on a bush. Foiled again! I spend forty minutes searching for the route, then bottomed out with the heat-induced fatigue. I found a gorgeous area by a lower pond (Tuck's Pot), and settled down for lunch and a quick nap.

At this point, it was edging 2:00, which was my turnaround time. I started picking my way back to the actual trail. Of course, that was when I spotted the blasted cairns, which indicate the correct route up to Robin. I consoled myself by knowing that it was still pretty buried in snow. Sometime, I'll have to do a 6:30 am start from the trailhead and attempt it. I'm not too psyched to carry camping gear up to Tuck anyway.

The hike down was quicker, but not by much. I ran into many people, all who quizzed me on how to get up to Robin. I hope they all were more successful than me. Anyway, down. When the trail is that steep, you have to pick your way down carefully. Got back to my car around 5:30, then stopped for some awesome food in Roslyn. Home at 9:30 pm.

Yesterday was Excelsior to High Divide
Mileage: 9
Butt-kicking factor: Holy shit. The hike was probably a Cascade 3.5 stars as well, but adding in the unending, torrential rain jacked it up to a 5.

It was wet. It was beyond rain. It was beyond driving rain. It was sheets of silver water pounding down on me every minute of that hike, with no protection from the trees. I decided that, as these are training hikes, that I'd go for it anyway. It may well be raining in Scotland, after all.

So, up at 7:00 (I set my alarm incorrectly), and on the road by 7:30. I hit the Mt. Baker-area trailhead at 9:30, and hit the trail by 9:45. Mine was the only car at the trailhead. Who would be out in this mess? And indeed, the hike started off seriously dark. It was a little disconcerting, because I'm always more deliberately aware of my surroundings when I know there are no other people on the mountain, at least in bear country. It was hard to see very far ahead because of the rain, and I couldn't hear a thing. I literally stopped at each switchback turn to evaluate the trail ahead. Pretty sure all the bears were miserably hiding in their dens, hating life. I once thought I heard a high-pitched weird sound through the torrents, but figured it was probably a bird. Some owl, hating life.

Far, far slower than I imagined, I ended up coming up on High Divide. Or so I presume. I'd hit the snowline by the point, and the melting snow combined with the utterly pounding rain had combined to turn the trail into a river. There were sheets of water sliding down the slopes on the divide, which was utterly fogged in. I was in the right place mapwise, but couldn't tell. It was 12:30. I check the time super-quickly, as to not destroy my phone, ate a bite of food, and decided I was going to head back down the mountain at a run. I used to frequently trailrun back to the car (boots and all), but haven't done that for a while.

The rain actually started letting up when I was halfway down, so I could finish the hike in relative peace. My clothes, raingear, non-cotton hiking gear, and all, were utterly, completely soaked. I was moving swiftly enough that staying warm wasn't a problem, but I was happy to get back to the car. Changed back into dry clothes, wrung the water out of my hiking clothes, and set off. I'm always seriously amused at people who insist that hiking in non-cotton will keep you dry. No. It's really just about the same experience if conditions are bad enough. I have more hardcore raingear, but I hate actually hiking in it, when it's up a steep grade, in any case. You just get soaked from the inside with sweat, since it doesn't breathe. Good for non-mountain climbing hikes, or when you're caught out in a storm while on a multi-day trip, but that's about it. I overtly wear cotton frequently, since I actually prefer it. Just one more reason why I don't hike with the Mountaineers--I break lots of their rules, with no regret at all.

I'd check this hike off in one of my hiking books, so I've apparently done it before. I don't remember it well at all, and I certainly didn't get a good look at High Divide. I'll have to check it out again sometime.

Back at the car.
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canyonwren: (Default)
Jen Kleis

November 2014


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