Sunday, July 12, 2009

Marmot Pass

This weekend we had the chance to head to the mountains for some nice rest and relaxation. Or is that toil to lug a big pack up a mountainside? Well, I had fun no matter what. Our destination was Marmot Pass, a very popular destination for the folks around here. It's location is indicated by the "A" marker on the map below. I also included a nice topo of the area because I like to be able to illustrate what I'm talking about. We are in the Buckhorn Wilderness in the Olympic National Forest. This was a Varsity Scout High Adventure outing, but since there was only one boy with his father and two other leaders it was more like a standard weekend outing of friends.

The Trail

This trail is one that offers the reward of breathtaking views, but it's not willing to give up the vista without the work. From the trailhead to the pass you climb 3,580 feet and you do it in 5.3 miles. It's a good workout. For our purposes, though, we didn't plan on going all the way to the pass in the evening. Our destination was Camp Mystery, 4.6 miles from the trailhead. Based on the topo map it looks like the climb to Camp Mystery was about 2,830 feet.

The first mile of the trail is very pleasant. It climbs but it's very gradual. After that you start to rise a little more. At 2.6 miles you pass a small area called Shelter Rock which provides a small area to camp if you would like. Shortly after the first camp the trail really gets about the business of taking you to 6,000 feet. In the next mile you climb about another 1,000 feet and you really begin to feel it. Before arrival at the camp you begin to pass in and out of forested areas and pass over some areas of shale on the the trail.


There was only one other party at Camp Mystery so we practially had the run of the place. The camp is great. There are several little nooks in the trees where your tent fits nicely. Campfires above 3,500 feet are not allowed in the Buckhorn Wilderness, despite that there was evidence of fire in the camp.
Here are the guys, and of course, I'm behind the camera. From left to right there is Charlie (the lab), Lyle, Adam, and Kim. Olaf, the bernese is also not pictured, but you'll see him down below.

The Pass

In the morning we woke up fairly early and with a little breakfast headed for the pass. Since we had done most of the work the previous evening we were ready to tackle it. Just before you reach the pass there is a beautiful mountain meadow. If you squint just right you can see the trail in the middle of the picture, just above center. When I took this we were about a quarter of a mile from the pass. One of the great things about hiking to a pass is that when you get there you can see so much in so many directions. Here I am at the pass. This is looking west toward the Olympic National Park. The ridge of that next range over is the border of the national park. Here are Lyle and Olaf at 6,000 feet.Off in the distance you could see the Hood Canal. Beyond that the upper end of Kitsap County, and further out you can just make out Whidbey Island. With binoculars you can easily see the Hood Canal Bridge.
The Descent

Having recieved our reward it was time to head down. A quick stop at camp allowed us to collect the rest of our stuff, and we were off. After about a mile and a half Adam rolled his ankle on a bit of shale. We stopped in some shade and were deciding what to do about it when we encountered a man on his way up. Well, it turns out that this guy was an orthopedic surgeon. What are the chances of that? So the surgeon wrapped up Adam's foot with the bandage that Lyle had and we were back on our way, albeit at a more conservative pace.

I wish I could say that our troubles were over and the rest of the hike was uneventful, but that's not how it played out. About a mile and a half from the bottom Olaf's will gave out. He's done this hike before but not for a while and it seems that he's not as young as he used to be. After a great deal of trying to bribe and coax him we finally devised this stretcher out of two ski poles I had and two jackets. Carrying a 100 pound dog out of the wilderness is not as easy or as a fun as it sounds.
Anyway, we get our merit badges for wilderness rescue and some valuable experience for the future. I'll be powerful sore tomorrow.


At 12:04 PM, Blogger Chelsea said...

And after all this, you still would go back and repeat it tomorrow! You're a nut who likes pain! I'm glad you had such a good time and have guys you can do this kind of stuff with!

At 7:31 AM, Blogger Miriam said...

Gotta love Washington's wilderness - beautiful!

At 5:37 PM, Blogger David Higginson said...

Sounds like a great trip. Sorry for the problems. I just returned from our Venturing High Adventure to Flaming Gorge. It was great with swimming, skiing and boarding, and a river float and fishing. I was only there for one day and the dinner, but it was great.

It is good to see you are having a great time. It looks like a great area and I hope that when we are up there that we can see a little of the area. See you in August

At 5:30 AM, Blogger Ugg Austrilia boots said...



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