Saturday, May 5, 2012

North Mtn and Old Sauk River 04-29-2012

Just four days after injuring my ankle during a trail run near Squires Lake the opportunity arose for a bonus hike.

Serious consideration was given to simply staying home to recouperate, but since the doctor didn't prescribe x-rays or pain killers then my condition could only be defined as "trail-worthy". Buck up and get out of the house.

In reality, it was more like the reality show "Big Brother"; esentially I had been voted out of the household for the day so the gals could aquaint themselves with the newest member of the family: Charlie... the Golden Doodle... puppy.

Chances are high that the next post over on teamrolfs will be all about you-know-who.

Anyway, I set my sights pretty low for the day - mentally prepared to spend the day playing Bingo at the casino if my ankle didn't want to cooperate with the hiking plan.

The initial objective was to reach the North Mountain Lookout (my second attempt). The snow level was higher than it was during my first visit back in December so I was pleased to drive an extra mile and a half, but a patch of snow stopped my mechanical travel just before it would have been stopped by water damage to the road.

The snowshoes remained at home in the garage even though I was sure to encounter snow on this route. My thoughts were that the snow probably wouldn't necessitate snowshoes since the elevation was similar to what I experienced on Sumas Mountain a couple weeks earlier... without snowshoes. Besides, it seemed logical that strapping extra weight UNDER my feet might not be a wise choice in the healing process.

Well, it turns out that the snow was deep, soft and slippery. Snowshoes would have made travel much faster and in retrospect, it would have been nice to have brought them.

After a mile of slow progress and probably seven more (round trip) to reach the lookout (and back) seemed like it might not be in my best interest today. North Mountain Snow = 2. Hiker = 0. Back to the car.

My itinerary included a number of other destination options. Unfortunately they all had undesirable consequences. Higgins: Snow for certain. Boulder River: Already been there before, meh. Diablo Dam: Would be cool but a bunch more driving. Home: woof x 5... not yet.

Hey... how about that river trail that Quark is always speaks so fondly of? What is it... oh yeah - the Old Sauk River Trail. New To Me, no snow, flat, nearby. PERFECT!

The Old Sauk River Trail follows the Sauk River upstream for about 3 flat miles or so. The trail is located about six miles south of Darrington (maybe it's only four miles south). There is a parking lot and a sign.

Upon my late arrival, there weren't any parking spots left. None.

Drove a couple miles further along the Mountain Loop Highway to find the alternate *New* or *In Progress* trail head. Found it... under construction and blocked. Bummer. Now what? Have to reconsider the original back up plans.

Headed back toward Darrington in dismay.

Suddenly, as I approached the original trail head, a car was leaving the parking lot and other hikers were just coming off the trail and headed to their own vehicles. Parking was now available! Woo Hoo!

Shortly thereafter I was happily hiking along, taking many photos of generic mountain loop + river + moss scenery.

The trail was very beautiful. No wonder Quark raves about it. As far as river walks go, this one is plenty nice.

Here is a video of almost all my photos. ALL of them are unedited and they are all in the original order. Only four pictures didn't make the cut because they were WAY too blurry.

The one saving grace for this video is that there are a few sequences of pictures where the scenery changes 'just a teeny tiny bit'. A branch moved. An slight point of view angle changed. Some of these slight changes are rather neat when viewed at the '2 seconds per image' rate that I used in creating the video. Check it out... you can spare four more minutes.

There is a route map at the end of the video. If you pause on the map you can see that my route followed the river along the trail, but then on the way back I also hiked the entire course of the new trail - much of which appears to be designed for wheelchair or at least stroller use intended.

All in all it was a nice day to be on the trails.

The ankle held up pretty well, but there were a few painful moments where stepping on a tree root caused a turn to the foot that resulted in a spasm of pain, but no more. Just watched my footing carefully... ended up hiking right about 10 miles between the two destinations. No need to cancel any future hike dates. :)

Happy Trails!

~ E

PS: Next hike date is the Saturday after Mother's Day (the 19th I think). Details still TBD. If you are interested in hiking that day please let me know so the 'details' can be developed with YOU in mind.

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