Need sun? Climb a mountain.

Posted by on Oct 23, 2013 in Hiking | 0 comments

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Lake Cushman, Olympic Peninsula, Washington

Lake Cushman, Olympic Peninsula, Washington

The fourth day of no sunshine and an open afternoon spelled one thing: H…I…K…E.

 

I left Olympia about noon; it was 53 degrees and cloudy. By the time I reached Hood Canal, approximately half way to the Mt. Ellinor trailhead, the clouds began to dissipate from above.

Marine layer of clouds above Hood Canal.

Marine layer of clouds above Hood Canal.

Within another 300 feet in elevation gain, I was above what few clouds remained; greeted by nothing but blue skies and sunshine. By the time I reached the upper trailhead, I was glad I had donned shorts and not long johns for the hike. I stowed some fleece in my backpack just in case, never to be used. The temperature on the trail, on the sunny side of the mountain, was in the 60′s. I had found what I was looking for!

Mt. Rainier in the distance.

Mt. Rainier in the distance.

About a third of the way to the summit, I broke out of the switch-backed timber and turned to see the haze below and behind me. To the southeast, Mt. Rainier, in all of it’s 4th-highest-U.S.-mountain glory, waived hello.

View from the Ellinor saddle.

View from the Ellinor saddle.

At near 3/4 of the way to the summit, I arrived at a saddle between a lower peak to the west and Ellinor’s peak. The view to the north was crystal clear, offering views of the craggy Olympics, with most of the snow from recent precipitation from weeks past all but gone.

Mt. Washington, just to the east of Ellinor.

Mt. Washington, just to the east of Ellinor.

Rounding near the southeast top of the summit, I found the only real snow patch remaining on the saddle between Ellinor and Mt. Washington to the east.

Mt. Olympus is the distance.

Mt. Olympus is the distance.

At the top! Mission accomplished. Not just the mission of reaching the summit, but the mission of reaching sunshine. Sure, most of the clouds had burned from the city of Olympia by now, but this was much more rewarding and a whole lot prettier.

Look closely....very closely.

Look closely….very closely.

Reveling in the sunshine, with my high spirits at my high elevation, I almost forgot to look for the goats. Mt. goats often greet hikers at the summit, but none were here this day. But my hunter’s eyes revealed three white dots, perhaps a half mile across the valley on the adjacent hillside to the west. In the middle of the photo above you can barely see the three white goats. I know: two words, right? TELEPHOTO LENSE. It’s on my list.

Me.

Me.

The one person at the top was preparing to leave when I arrived, so for almost two hours I basked in the sunshine by myself. I had completely forgotten about the 4 cloudy days behind me as I soaked it all in, filling my sunshine reserves for the wet, cloudy days that are sure to be just around the corner.

But alas, you don’t always have to go south to find the sun; sometimes you just have to go up.

 

 

 

 

 

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