Kei on the Mountain Top
Photo by Karl Magnuson.
Kei, Karl, Carol and hiked up Mount Pugh on Sunday. These are Karl’s photos as I absent-mindedly left my camera battery in the charger at home.
Mount Pugh is an impressive hike with postcard views and a very difficult scramble. Not too many folks are up there, and at this time of year the flowers are blooming and the blueberries are just coming out. Even after Kei’s mishap, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to folks who are tired of the I-90 corridor hikes.
We left Seattle in the big blue egg, Karl’s new Previa, around 6 am. We got to the trailhead around 8:45. We climbed a couple thousand feet in two hours, which was good progress. We were underneath towering Douglas Fir, Alaskan Yellow Cedar and Alpine Fir, among other trees whose names I forget. On the ground we saw a few unusual specimins of purple and candy-striped Indian Pipe, a spare stalk about the size of a fiddle head with these berry looking appendages. They are apparently a no-clorophyll plant that Willy Wonka invented. We ate none of it.
Once we got to the edge of the canopy into the alpine area, around 11:00 or so, we ate our lunch — including Karl’s cheese and olive oil and pepper triscuits — and prepared the steep ascent. By this time the sun was beating down, and it felt in the high 70’s. We began our ascent up the switchbacks through the carpet of blue, yellow and pink wildflowers. At this point, the mountain peaks around us became visible, from the cascades even to the Olympics.
By the time we reached the top of the pass, we were ready for our next break, but we pushed on. We caught our first glimpse of the remaining snow on the east side of the mountain. This is where the steep scramble began.
Kei had a difficult time with some of the crossings. With steep drops on either side, and given her admitted fear of balance beam like exposure, it was understandable. She did very well considering, taking her time, going slowly, and conquering her fear. I was quite impressed!
There were a few relics of equipment of some sort on the summit. An old winch and rusting metal cable, an anchor point, and some rusting bolts. Karl suggested mining, but what couldl they have been mining 5000 feet on a mountain peak? Perhaps it was for a lookout?
Photo by Karl Magnuson.
The funniest part of the peak was the red winged ants, featured in the picture above. They seemed to congregate at the highest point of the mountain — playing king of the mountain perhaps. So whomever was sitting highest, elevation wise, tended to get a swarm of these things in her head. Carol was the totem of our group. What a willing martyr.
The peaks you can see from the top are too exhaustive for me to name here, but include Mt Sloan, Mount Baker, Mount Rainier and Glacier peak. This site has more photos of the peaks. What interested me was how some peaks were glacier covered, some were tree covered all the way to the summit, and others were a brownish-reddish color.
The way down was longer and hotter than the ascent. I helped Kei down the scramble-bouldering descent, leading her by the hand on the very narrow ridgeline occasionally. We saw a middle aged woman on our way down with two homemade hiking poles (sticks) with white sewn hand covers. She was a level 7 elf woman and my wizard armor didn’t protect me from her spells.
We also saw a couple older men who ran up the mountain and ran down. Very inspiring.
My straw hat did a good job of protecting my face from the sun, but the rest of me cooked on the long rocky switchback path into the forest. I caught some crickets on the way down to feed to Bertie. (Unfortunately I put them in my cargo pocket which I tossed my cell phone in later in the car, so I got home with some cricket mash.)
We rested for fifteen minutes. My 3 liter Platypus had a few sips left. I had already drank it + a 1 liter bottle of crystal lite (another one of Karl’s favorites). Our descent on the well graded pine needle slope went quickly. We made it a couple miles to the lake in an hour or so. With an hour of hiking left, we rested for a short while, ate some more food, and prepared to “bag” the peak and put and end to the day. With all our water gone, we were ready to get to the Blue Egg of safety.
Not 50 steps from the lake, however, Kei slipped on a root, tried to catch herself, and yelled out in pain. She immediately sat up, layed down and grabbed her knee, like a football player who knows he is hurt and wants the stretcher. We had no stretcher. “My knee popped,” she said, reeling in pain. Karl was great, he immediately took charge, asked if we had any aspirin (we had motrin), gave kei all 4 of them and wrapped her knee in an ace bandage while we tried to figure out how we were going to get out of there.
Could we carry her the next 2 miles down the mountain? Make a sled out of our packs, or carry her like the queen of Sheeba with hiking poles and a pack between Karl and I?
Kei started to get up. She was able to stand and put some weight on her left leg. While her face screwed up with pain, she was able to hobble a bit. We gave her a couple hiking poles and she started a slow decent. The leg was ginger, wobbly, but not blown, which would have made the situation much more difficult. I thought of “Touching the Void”. I’m glad we avoided that fate. Or that this did not occur in the high alpine. We had much to be grateful for.
The descent was very slow. Carol came up with a crutch like contraption with hiking poles. She put the tip of one in the basket of another, and used the straps as the armpit area. Karl found a Y-branch to use as a krutch as well. While these attempts to get weight off her knee may have been good for us (it gave us a way to help), she preferred two hiking poles instead. The steep descents were the most painful for her. Luckily, the motrin kicked in after 15 minutes, and she was riding the Motrin horse the rest of the way down.
“Hey, this Motrin stuff is great! Even the bottom of my feet don’t hurt,” Kei said. After which she began doing her Calamity Jane impression, asking why Karl didn’t bring his whiskey flask. I will never go another hike without motrin.
We made it to the car around 7:30pm. Since Karl has a Previa, we were able to spin the captains chair around and give Kei a place to prop her leg up.
We sped off, and only after a brief stop at a Darrington convenience store to see the local color (quite colorful, I might add) and the honey bucket out back, we jetted home in our space age mini-van. We saw a Bronco loose his drive-train on the freeway, got leered at by soccer mom’s, and ran into a mess of construction traffic on I-5 which we avoided by taking 99.
We got home around 9:45.
Kei is doing OK now. She hobbles a bit, but is not in a lot of pain and there is no swelling. She’ll see an orthopedic doctor on Friday, and we’ll find out what happened.
These are some shot’s I took of Bertie eating, and Kei and my crab feast the other day. I really like the shot of Bertie and the stick bug. It is funny, because the stick bug got chopped in half while Bertie was chomping away. The top half walked away! Bertie dispatched of the top half in due time.
This next shot is when Bertie saw himself in the mirror. I guess he thought it was a competing male, so he showed the brightest yellow in response.
We had an Indian food night and Kei, Kate, Giles and me made roti.
Then I went sailing a week and a half ago. We left from Edmunds. There was no rain, but alas, no wind.
Kei is making a food decomposer below. Some Bertie photos also. He is eating a Madagascar pink wing walking stick.
And on last Sunday Kei, Jordan, Kate and Hélène and I went on a Chanterelle foray. We were overwhelemed by them. Didn’t have enough bags.
A picture of Kei on our Saturday walk to Discovery Park and a Monday Night Football shot of Kei, Kay, Mac, Loren, and Erica (cut off) at the PI.
The speed bumps below I thought were rather neat. They are wide enough to slow cars, yet don’t obstruct the flow of bicycle traffic. These were found in the “Tangletown” neighborhood on 55th.
Here is a short movie (3.8MB AVI) showing cars slowing for these.