Mike and I went up Sourdough Mountain in the North Cascades this weekend. This was a redemption hike, as we tried to get up there a few years ago, but were stymied by snow.
We met in Mount Vernon around 6 AM, and I was greatly appreciative that Mike was up for leaving Seattle at 5 AM. It's great to make the trailhead before most. One reason Sourdough is a favorite of mine is it isn't too far of a drive from home--less than an hour and half.
The hike is tough. A really stiff climb for the first two miles, and it never really lets up. I think climb is 5000 feet in about 5.5 miles. There was snow at the top, but it was quite manageable, and added to the allure of the lookout. The lookout is well known, as one of the Beat poet lookouts, once giving summer residence to Gary Snyder and Phil Whaley.
The wildflowers are blooming. Columbine, Indian paintbrush, varieties of phlox, and other annual favorites. Now is the time to be up high. The views from the top were spectacular, with Hozomeen and the Pickets Range figuring prominently.
More people on trail than usual. It is the 4th of July weekend.
The biggest highlight was the bear we saw on the way down. The bear was feeding in field, tucked between a switchback. It was not moved by the clapping of hands, or the banging of sticks. It took a good five minutes to convince Mr. or Ms. Bear to move along, and then we seemed to chase down the trail for another 15 minutes, as Bear seemed happy to opt for trail over steep slope. Pretty special stuff.
I was slow going up. When I was in shape, I could do this climb in under three hours, but we took more than four hours. Mike is in shape, and so awesome in accommodating my slowness. We kept a steady, talking pace going up, making it a terrific day with a good friend, on trail. Coming down was tough on the quads. There was some running, albeit slow and stilted. Hopefully recovery is quick.