Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mnt. Townsend

What a stupid goddamned thousand feet into the three thousand foot climb up Forest Service Road 25 to the Mnt. Townsend trailhead I really began to rethink my brilliant idea of using my bike to go climbing in the mountains. At the end of the day, it is just a whole bunch of hard work to get things done in good style.

The Eastern Peaks of the Olympic Mountain Range tower proudly over the Puget Sound and are clearly visible from Sunset Hill Park near my home in Greenwood. A couple weeks ago I raced my bike west in the evening light of clear spring night to catch a sun setting over the Olympics and sip on a lukewarm Ranger IPA. I hatched a stupid plan; to bag all the peaks visible from this point using my bike. I crushed my beer can against my head, pedaled home and ordered a copy of Olympic Mountains: A Climbing Guide. Despite the fact that I have been climbing mountains at a reasonable standard for the past 12 years, I had never reached the summit of a peak in the Olympics. Might as well make things interesting, eh?

The original objective for the weekend, the Buckhorn Mountain Traverse was abandoned due to a sick partner, an unseasonably high snow pack and more honestly to many Friday night beers. A late start and a 60 mile ride culminating with a 3000 foot climb deposited me at the Mnt. Townsend Trailhead in the late afternoon. A quick repack and bike stash found me stomping up the intermittently snow covered trail as the afternoon turned to evening.

As darkness approached and the fog closed in, I found a reasonably flat spot to lay my bag down for the night. Consistent with the classic NW weather inversion, as the the sun went down and the air cooled, the clouds sank into the valleys and left the peaks the of the Olympics perched under a clear star-filled night.

I woke to near freezing temperatures at 5 am and booted a path over untrodden snow to the 6,280 foot summit of Mnt. Townsend. Despite being one of the most visited summits in the range, today I was alone and felt the solitude I sought pedaling out of the city less than 24 hour before.

I don't know how long it will take me to reach all of my Sunset Park Summits, but I know that I will reach all of them by bike and be a little tougher for the process.

Livin' the Dream,


Kit for the adventure. I added a pint of whiskey for emergencies...such as waking up in the morning.

Mass transit is fair game in the FDA, plus Washington State Ferries are just pretty cool.

Time and distance have a little different meaning on the Olympic Peninsula. The "Welcome Sign" is about 12 miles out of town.

They forgot to mention the 3000 feet of elevation gain.

...and rednecks with firearms.


Wandering around on the snow by myself in the evening fog convinced me that I should probably sit tight until morning.

A couple minutes after a crawled in my bivy sack the clouds began to drop...

to reveal clear skies and a bright half moon.

Sunrise was OK. A sea of clouds over the Hood Canal and the Puget Sound.

Left to right: Mount Jupiter, Mount Constance and Buckhorn Mountains from the summit of Mnt. Townsend.

Cloudy with a chance of drizzle at sea level, splitter at 6 k!

I wore my special Reno Card Dealer shirt for the summit shot.

I am pretty sure this includes me.

Pit stop at the Hood Canal Brewery.

Next stop: Edmonds Washington.

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