Friday, January 18, 2008

Dow Mountain

Maybe Bunny Tracks

The lower road

I left my house at 6:15 am and arrived at the Big Creek trail head at 7:15 almost one hour before sunrise. A snow plow blocked off the winter time parking area with piles of snow too high to drive over so I parked on the road. I was a little bit anxious about hiking into the woods in the dark but the sun would be up soon enough. Too bad the first bridge is out, that was the end of my hike, over before it started. I wanted to go to the look out half way up Ellinor. I know the Big Creek trail is in bad shape and all the bridges are out but I thought I could get away with hiking up it to the Ellinor connector trail. I forgot about that bridge right at the start of the hike. Maybe I will cross the creek on the road next time and then bushwack to the trail.

So where to go? Every trail in the region is inaccessible it seems. Almost all the trails in the South Fork Skok are closed due to the wild life gates being shut for the winter. There is too much snow on the road to Spider Lake and too much snow to hike to Pine Lake. The North Fork trails are all closed due to the forest service deciding not to maintain the road to staircase in the winter. Too much snow to go up Ellinor, bridges out at Big Creek even the Hoodsport trail is closed due to storm damage. I thought about hiking up the road to Mount Ellinor but changed my mind when I saw all the snow on the road that leads to the road up.

Too much snow to drive to Lena Lake and there is a wash out on the road before the Putvin Trail. Probably too much snow to drive to Duckabush and how many years has the Dosewallips road been washed out now? It was beginning to look like Mount Walker was my only option but that is a long way to drive on a day when I have very little time to hike.

Then I remembered reading something about hiking up to Dow Mountain. A realtor at the bottom of the mountain helped me out by telling me that yes other people park at her office and hike up. But then she warned me about strange "protective" people living on the road up and asked me to let her know when I made it back so she would not have to call the Sheriff to rescue me.

So off I went up Dow Mountain not knowing how many miles it was to the summit, if I was going to get shot up there or if I would need my snowshoes. But my GPS came to the rescue. I had a topo map of the area loaded. With my GPS I knew how many miles I needed to walk and what roads to turn up.

I lugged my snowshoes all the way to the top but did not need them. I took them because I needed the exercise. I did not run into any strange people, in fact I saw no houses after the first ½ mile. The road that I walked up had no tire tracks on it. I was hoping for a view at the top. I was told you can see Seattle from up there but all I could see was trees. I saw a lot of animal tracks in the snow mostly small animals like raccoon, mouse and rabbit. At the top I ate my lunch and melted snow to make tea. My kitten stove is ok for melting snow.

7 miles round trip with 1,700 feet elevation gain and my legs are sore. I might be getting out of shape. Next week I will find another logging road to hike up. All the trails are gone but there is no shortage of logging roads.

The uppper road

The Summit and GPS

Racoon Tracks

The road

The summit

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