Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sourdough Mountain

I went up Sourdough Mountain this weekend, roughly 6000 feet above Diablo and Ross Lake in the North Cascades National Park. It’s a bit more than 5 miles to the summit, but it’s a really tough climb, and not particularly runnable. It’s a screamer coming down—sort of sketchy with roots and cliffs, and I’m sure my quads will feel it tomorrow.
The views from the top were amazing, jawbreakers, and I landed a really good day to be high in the sky, with all the cloud cover burning off by the time I got up there. Panoramic, the American Alps, Ross Lake, Jack Mountain, Mount Baker, and views all the way up into Canada. Wildflowers 101. I’m still looking at maps and field guides, trying to figure out everything I was looking at. There was heavy snowpack at the top, which was sort of fun—people probably haven’t been up there much this year. I was by far the first of the day, after leaving MV at 6 AM.
It is possible to make a 20 mile loop out of this one, but I had difficulty finding the backside of the loop down to Ross---find the cairn!--and so I kept it safe and went back the way I came, from Diablo, after kicking around for an hour or more up top.
Sourdough is a famous fire lookout. It is one of the very first of its type, and Gary Snyder, award winning poet, spent summers in the ‘50s doing the fire lookout thing, as did Philip Whalen. I know Snyder, not Whalen. Their experiences and old pictures of the lookout are available in a book published a few years ago, "Poets On Peaks." My father actually worked at Diablo in the early 1960s, while attending the UW, so I’m looking forward to telling him about this one. It’s good country.
Here’s the National Park Service writeup:

Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout
Down valley a smoke haze
Three days heat, after five days rain
Pitch glows on the fir-cones
Across rocks and meadows
Swarms of new flies.
I cannot remember things I once read
A few friends, but they are in cities.
Drinking cold snow-water from a tin cup
Looking down for miles
Through high still air.
Gary Snyder

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Finding Lake Samish

I went exploring Saturday, and found my way from Larrabee to Lake Samish, and back. Good rain the whole way. I'm not sure if I took the typical course--I started at the Clayton Beach parking lot, took a right on a gated trail about a mile up off the Fragrance Lake Road, and ran that road out until it turned to trail. It was a four and half hour adventure, and I had to scratch arrows in the DNR trails and roads to find my way back. But it worked. It's a steep drop into the Samish basin, and I think this run would be better started from Samish, so you could run to the sea and back. My turnaround point was Samish Park, the start point for the Samish runs. The park had water and bathrooms, which was perfect. There were great views of the Skagit flats and the San Juans going up. I saw a big buck, a big frog, a dead rabbit (which might've been a cougar kill), two herons, some wild doves, and I found a bunch of wild raspberries, which I ate. The End.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Stanley Park

I spent most of last week in Vancouver, Canada. I ate dim sum and it didn't feel so good afterwards. Long days, with little escape, but I did make it a couple times out on the seawall in Stanley Park. It's a 5 or 7 mile paved trail, which wraps around Stanley Park, with the bay always to the right. There are some amazing views of the city skyline, North Vancouver, and it's mountains, Lion's Gate Bridge, and then later the big sea, and beaches. The First Half Half Marathon, in February, is one cool way to check it out. It fills up within hours. I really didn't get a lot else done running wise this week.