I have been delinquent and neglected to update my blog for a week and a day now. Punishments have been procured and should be arriving in the postal service any day now. This, however, is a penance which is much more suitable to the crime.
The last day of August was my first day back to work after a two week long vacation. I went back into the office and faced the mountain of email that had accumulated in my absence, the stacks of projects that I needed to address, and finished off my performance review. By the end of the day I was bushed, I crawled to my car hoping that the late afternoon coffee I had downed would carry me over the pass and into my bed. Clearly I was in a sour mood and the small collection of running gear in the trunk was really acting more like an uncomfortable mental thorn in my sock than a motivator as I crawled through Seattle traffic toward Ellensburg. I just wanted to go home.
Here, however, we see how much location can affect a person. By Issaquah I was enjoying a good bit of music and the traffic had cleared a tad. North Bend caught me high enough in the Cascades to be contemplating my trail options. By exit 47 I was shedding my office clothes like larval vestments and dawning my snazzy trail garb with a smile. Granite peak it would be tonight.
The trail head didn’t look too busy although there was a construction crew truck and a few signs giving notice that there might be some trail working being done. There was another sign that mentioned how little water anyone might expect on their climb up and down the hill as well.
Handhelds filled and a small pack borne I headed up the trail at a slow climbing lope. I was trying to maintain about 2.0 MPH on the climb even though this is a steep one. It was muggy and warm on the climb up; the shirt came off so I could get some evaporative cooling going. When I got to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness boundary I paused to take a photo. You can see that the climb was working its magic and that that day’s trials were broken down and washed away. That’s the face of self-healing.
I kept on chugging and pretty soon I was well above timberline. There are almost *no* mountain huckleberries on the southern climb up Granite. There are also no mosquitos and I’m not sure if losing one to be rid of the other was such a bad compromise. As I climbed the sun was sinking into the Sound and making a haze that was hard to look into. The hills below along the I-90 corridor were bright with glare and silhouetted. The sky turned something between pink and brown.
Once over and above the saddle the trail work was obvious. Someone has really been doing amazing work using available materials and hand tools. Mostly done with chunks of granite they’ve filled in ditches, constructed steps and raised foot paths over tarns, re-routed switch backs, built solid paths over steep terrain, and generally made something that will last many years into the future despite this trail’s constant heavy usage.
I summited and poked around the lookout tower a bit. There may be a geocache bolted to the northern cross-spar of the tower which needs to be redressed by the owner. Someone had used the ammo can as a banana peel composting bin. Not pleasant. I cleaned up what I could, looked around, took a few more photos and started back down the trail. I could see that there were a couple of more-or-less filled condensation pools in the fel field just below and east of the summit. I was down a bottle of water and figured it would be best if I started treatment on a replacement.
Bounding silently over an old path in the fel field I came to the larger of the condensation pools, knelled and started to fill my bottle when I heard the voices of people just above me. The trail crew, who were working for the Mountains to Sound Greenway were about ready to start a boulder-top yoga session in the fading light. I held a brief conversation with these kids and then took off down the trail not wanting to have to run too much in the dark. Most importantly I wanted them to know what quality work they had been about.
So, it’s been way too long since I did this, but here it is the TR. This past weekend was more or less spent tending to household chores I’ve been putting off for a month, but I’m in serious need of a good run tonight. The temperatures have been on their way down as we get closer to the autumnal equinox and day light just doesn’t stick around as long as it used to. Still my head lamp is charged. See you on the trail.