Olympic Mountains: Mt. Washington

The weather in Washington has been absolutely beautiful and I really wanted to get outside and take advantage of it so while I was at the Rainiers’ game with my family I sent a message to my cousin, Daniel. After our adventure on Gold Mountain at Christmastime, he’d said he was always up for more adventure so I was hoping that was still the case.

Happily for me, he agreed and I quickly started searching for some hike options. I really love the Olympic Peninsula so it really wasn’t a surprise that of the four choices I sent him, three were on the peninsula. I was totally pumped when he agreed to tackle my first choice, Mt. Washington. At 6,255′ it is the most prominent peak in Mason County with 2,615′ of clean prominence.

Mt. Washington Trail

The Mt. Washington trail is not an official Forest Service trail and starts out really steeply from the parking lot. And when I say steeply, I mean that we gained 1,600′ in the first mile. Fortunately, it was a really beautiful hike. There were lots of wildflowers and the views to the east just kept getting better as Mt. Rainier appeared and then all of Hood Canal and then some of Puget Sound.

Wildflowers

In places (like the slope Daniel is standing on in the photo below) the trail was covered in scree and made for tough climbing in spots. It was always a relief when we switched to climbing up roots and rocks.

Daniel on trail

Beth on Mt. Washington Trail

 

As we climbed up higher and higher I got more and more giddy. I absolutely love climbing in the high alpine during the summer and I haven’t gotten to do that in Colorado yet this year!

Towards Mt. Ellinor

Daniel on Mt. Washington Trail

 

I really love this photo I took of Dan:

Daniel

 

Beth and Lake Cushman

 

Seriously, I’m not joking, I was giddy:

Stream channel selfie; Beth

 

We reached a great stopping point just shy of the half way point (in elevation gain) and had some snacks and enjoyed the view.

Panorama from high meadow

Ridge panorama from high meadow

Climbing it because it's there

 

After refueling, we started the final push for the summit. First, we passed through a small meadow filled with bear grass flowers:

Wildflowers

Ascending from meadow

 

Then we started to work our way up the headwall toward the the ridgeline:

Headwall

Beth on Mt. Washington Trail

Daniel on Mt. Washington trail

Mt. Washington trail

Hood Canal and Lake Cushman

 

The trail to the summit was really pretty and I enjoyed the final easy scramble to the summit. Plus, the views to the west and the interior of the Olympics were absolutely amazing!

Mt. Washington trail

Hood Canal

Panorama from summit of mt. Washingotn

Beth and Daniel Summit Selfie

 

One of the things that I really love about climbing more than one mountain in an area is seeing mountains from more than one angle. The mountain below is Mt. Ellinor that I climbed in 2005:

Mt Ellinor

 

Coming from Colorado I also appreciated the green in the lower reaches of the trail on the way down. I’ve always felt that there is nowhere else you can go and see more shades of green in one place!

image

Beth on Mt. Washington Trail

 

Back at the car, we changed into flip flops, stared up at the mountain and headed back down to Hoodsport.

Mt. Washington from trailhead

 

Hoodsport Coffee Co. serves Olympic Mountain Ice Cream which is seriously fantastically delicious ice cream. I devoured one scoop of vanilla habanero followed by one scoop of lemon lavender. Daniel had vanilla and cappuccino chip.

 

 

 

 

Olympic Mountain Ice Cream

 

Mt. Washington was a great hike that had a lot of elements that I loved: a summit, great high elevation scrambling, amazing views, and it inspired more summits; plus it has one of my favorite ice cream brands at the base. It was all made better by getting to hang out with my cousin who I rarely get to see. As always, I’m excited to get back to the Olympics next visit home!

P.S. Congratulations to Daniel for wrapping up a successful college career and graduated from Central Washington University the Saturday before the hike!

A Quick Trip to MY Olympics

I always forget that when I post “I’m going to the Olympics!!” on my Facebook page someone invariably assumes that I mean I’m going to the Olympic Games rather than my beloved Olympic Mountains which always makes my excitement seem somewhat silly.

Anyhow, Forrest found a set of wheels he wanted up in Sequim and I was more than happy to accompany him on the drive up there. We left Corvallis on Friday afternoon and made a brief pit stop in Monmouth to pick up Ezra and then headed north. We spent the night with our “motorhome and tent trailer” combo (aka the Cherokee and the trailer Ezra pitched his tent on) on the top of Mt. Walker (elevation 2085′). The view in the morning was fantastic but we had to hurry on to make our purchase.

After buying the tires (it was so nice of the couple to let us leave our trailer there overnight!), we headed up Hurricane Ridge. Ezra’s never been there, Forrest hadn’t been since he was about eight, and I always act like an eight-year-old given that view so it was quite lucky that we’d gotten a beautiful blue sky Olympic day. After a quick lunch and a perusal of the raised relief map of the peninsula in the visitors center (where I got Forrest to admit there’s lots to explore) we headed out Obstruction Point Road.

I’d never been out that way and wow was it pretty. I was a little shocked at the number of cars in the parking lot but once we started down the trail we didn’t see too many people. Our original plan was to hike out along the Deer Park trail for about three or four miles and then simply head back. Our plans changed. For the steeper.

Once we got a glimpse of Grand Valley from Elk Mountain looking over Badger Valley we decided to make a loop of it. This loop wound up being somewhere between 9 1/2 and 10 miles, depending on which source you believe) and had some serious elevation loss and gain–to the tune of 5,000 feet.

Totally wonderful variety and totally worth the sore legs. We got to be above the tree line, in the subalpine meadows, in the high elevation trees (much less undergrowth than lower in the Olympic valleys), mountain streams, and a mountain lake.

After our hike we headed down the mountain and camped at Heart O’ The Hills. We let the ranger talk us into going to his campfire program “Drama In the Dark” (I did successfully volunteer Forrest to read a poem, but he was a good sport). We sat around our own campfire for awhile and then crashed–it’d been a long day!

On our way back to Sequim we went out to Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge and played around on the sand. I was kind of up for the 10 mile hike out to the lighthouse and back but it didn’t sound like Forrest had any interest in that adventure. I did get to play in the water like a little kid. The waves were huge right up on the shore and I got soaked. It was amazing.

After retrieving Forrest’s wheels, we headed down the canal. I finally got to have my Olympic Mountain ice cream again which was INCREDIBLE. I love Hoodsport…I mean, really? Does it get any better? Mountains, salt water, Lake Cushman, ice cream, and oysters? That’s pretty awesome.

The drive home was uneventful (and felt way shorter than the drive up in the dark). Hurray for squeezing in another high country hike before the snow flies!! (The webcam showed a dusting of snow at Hurricane Ridge the following Tuesday morning.)

Originally posted on the blog: Evergreen Rambles.