Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mount Ellinor with a side trip.

I was invited on two hikes on Monday, one a hike half way up Mount Washington, the other a hike up Mount Ellinor.  Mount Washington has more appeal but friends from out of town were coming to do Ellinor, so I chose Ellinor so I could visit with them.  Ellinor is always busy, but if I’m hiking with a group I don’t mind the crowds as much.

I got off to a late start and I had to get gas, so I hightailed it up the mountain in my tiny station wagon.  My Jeep is for sale and I don’t intend to drive it again.  So now the plan is to beat my little car to death on all the back roads.

  I ended up passing one person in my party on the road but I did not recognize them.  I was hoping to meet up with them so we could do the planned shuttle between the upper and lower trail, but it was not to be.

The group all convened at the upper trail.  The group consisted of all men all at least ten years younger than me.  I decided to get a slight head start so I would not hold them up too much.  They caught up to me at the junction between the winter and summer route and then they just kept going and going and going without me.  What kind of group hike was this?

I fell in with a man who was not part of my group and hiked with him for a while but he was a know-it-all and would not let me get a word in edgewise and he did not have anything to talk about that was of interest to me, so after about 20 minutes I stopped to let him get ahead. 

I took a few pictures but the lighting was not good and the view to the east was hazy.  It was the wrong time of day to be taking pictures.  There was some ice on the summit block but I made it up in running shoes.  My group was on the top and they greeted me. 

There were other groups on the top too and there was no place to sit.  It was hard to even take a picture without a person in it.  There was also no place to brew my tea.

 I’m not one for crowds or braggadocio, so I opted to head back down after about ten minutes on the top.   I wore my running shoe compatible crampons to help me get down the 15-30 feet of ice near the summit.
One of my group members went down with me but soon he left me in the dust.   The others stayed on the top.  Before the one who headed down with me left me behind, I told him that I intended to go off trail and not to worry about me as I had a Delorme unit I could activate if there were any problems.

So many people were going up that I had to keep stepping to the side and there were people blocking the way down by standing in the middle of the trail taking pictures.  Most people were friendly and none of the dogs tried to bite me, so that made a nice change.  Still, I enjoyed this hike about as much as I enjoy fighting the crowds at Pike Place market.

I knew I had to get off the trail and find some peace so I could salvage something other than just exercise out of this trip.  I left the main trail and headed left onto the little known trail that goes from Mount Ellinor to Mount Washington.  Once off the main trail I did find some peace and some wild life.  I almost  immediately got buzzed by a Northern Goshawk that probably had a nest in the trees.   The hawk buzzed Patches too, that was rather exciting.

I walked on the old trail until I reached the old campsite on Mount Washington and I had my tea there near one of the many old campfire rings. 

I made it back to my car with an hour to spare before sunset.

4.3 miles with 2,300 feet elevation gain.

Near the old shelter on Mount Washington

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