Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mt. Ellinor

Today's adventure is a little different.  Instead of the usual cast of characters, it was just two guys and a mountain.  Me and the kid, Nicholas, against Mt. Ellinor.  Mt.  Ellinor is a peak in the south east part of the Olympic mountain range.  There are two options for the trail up this one.  There is a lower trail head and an upper trail head which halves the distance of the hike.  Not being cowardly cheaters, we chose the lower starting point which placed us 3.3 miles away and 3200 feet below our destination.

The forecast was for fog early which would clear late.  So it was gloomy and cool, in the 50's when we set off at 0700 in the morning for the 90 minute or so drive.

Misty and mysterious, just like I like it.

Peer close and you can see our mountain looming ahead.
We got to the lower trail head and discovered it was just above the fog bank.  We were treated to sunny skies and awesome views as we started our hike.  The lower trail took us through some old growth forest.  It was cool and provided a great warm up for the work to come.

Nicholas met the challenge with remarkable enthusiasm

Our peak is in sight. 

I found this lovely walking stick at the registration book. 

An ocean of cloud below us.

Gotta have some fun, right?

Nicholas developed a new trail jerky delivery method

Looking back on our 'easy' section and the switchbacks.
When we met up with the upper trail, things got steeper and the views started opening up a little bit.  We were still mostly above an ocean of cloud, but elevation has its advantages when it comes to nice views.

Gotta stay hydrated.

Still looking up. 

Some thanks were in order.
Just such a pretty little high meadow

Taking a moment to check out the view.

Of course he had to go check out the snow.

Going up!
Still enthusiastic!
Then we crested the ridge and got our first look at the Olympics.  It was gorgeous, but we were on a roll and passing some slower hikers so we didn't want to stop for too many pictures.  Then it was back to climbing.

Somewhere under those clouds is Lake Cushman.

Still going up, and no, there weren't stair for most of the hike.
 Finally, we came scrambled up some scree covered slopes and there we were.  We had made the summit.  Time to enjoy.

Hard work getting to the top.

And yet, there is that enthusiasm.

We made a friend at the top.
I believe this is Mt. Stone.

Could be Olympus, I'm not sure...judges?

Nearby Mt. Washington.

 Looking East, the Cascade range volcanoes were out too. 

Obviously, Mt. Ranier.
Mt. St. Helens

Mt. Adams in the way back.
Unfortunately, we weren't the only people up there.  Most people appeared in pairs and chatted quietly.  There was one group I called The Louds.  There were many of them, they were very loud and made it hard to relax and just enjoy the view.

Still, it is hard to be grumpy on a mountain peak.  So we weren't.

The Louds family reunion.

So Nicholas decided to go to the very tippy top.

Brown's Hike Lake below Mt. Pershing.

And yes, I was there too. 

Just as enthusiastic as Nicholas.
No Kerri, he isn't inches away from a 1000 + foot drop, just an illusion.
Then, just as the clouds started clearing away, it was decided to leave.  We had some down to go and figured we should get started. 

Suddenly the ocean of clouds receded and a lake appeared.

Beautiful Lake Cushman.

I had to add flowers. 

Between the trees we could see where we had been.

Funky little woodland trail.

Our master hiker and newly crowned Mountain Man.
Back at the car, we headed for post summit burgers and drove home.  Along the way we came across some eagles and stopped to take some pictures. 

We have a new mountain man in the family.