Melmont Ghost Town

I’m helping a couple people get ready to hike Mailbox Peak in early September so we went down to Carbonado Washington to take a stroll through Melmont Ghost Town.

This is a 5-6 mile out and back path along an old abandoned coal town from the early 1900’s. There are some remnants of some of the buildings. They look like they are made with local stones. The town of Carbonado was a stop for the railway as they transported coal. The town was busy for awhile, boasting a school and post office, however it was short lived and has been abandoned for nearly a century.

At times you will see individuals with metal detectors working in the fields looking for old artifacts. Last time I was there a couple guys had located old plates and cooking items. On the West Coast we have not been good about preserving our history. Many town like this exist with little information known about the history. That’s really unfortunate as there are great stories about perseverance and settlers that will be lost.

This is a nice flat trail that boasts an old steel bridge that reminds me a lot of deception pass bridge. It’s so impressive to think about workers building that by hand. The nuts and bolts on it alone are impressive.

It was a nice day weather wise, so we were able to walk down to the Carbonado river and relax while we ate some lunch.

Next week I’ll be taking them on a longer hike with some elevation!

And I do my little turn on the Katwalk…..

Kendall Katwalk that is! I decided to take a little spin up on the Katwalk. It’s a 12 mile RT hike from Snoqualmie Pass, mostly on a portion of the PCT. The trail is easy to follow and has a steady slow grade gaining 2,600 feet elevation over the 6 miles to reach the Katwalk. Although the trail starts out in the forest, you quickly break out of the trees into the open and cross a few talus fields. I chose to do this hike on Sunday and it was in the 80’s in Seattle, which for us PNWers is HOT! I started the trail at 7 am and did not encounter many hikers, but saw several trail runners. Not my idea of a good time but they seemed to be having fun!

This trail has several really long straight sections where you can see the trail for a long ways. At times this is nice as you can see the gradual incline, but the downside is at times it feels like you are standing still. The end before the next switchback seems to far away! So many spots to stop for breathtaking views and photos. I’ve just taken my iPhone with me but I think I need to invest in a mirrorless camera. I need more than my iPhone but my DSLR is too heavy!

As I was coming out of the forest I ran into another hiker, who broke out into a narrative about all the peaks surrounding us, giving a thorough description of each. Impressive. A minute later he says, “I’m not that smart, I just used the peak finder app right before I saw you so all the information was fresh”. HAHA! We both had a good laugh about that. Honestly I generally love other hikers I run across on the trails. Everyone is so friendly and easily strike up a quick conversation before the parting “have a great hike/day” comment.

For the most part social distancing was super easy to follow. If passing was necessary most of the trail allows for someone to step off the trail for others to pass. There are a few sections where this isn’t permissible. The vast majority of hikers/runnings were carrying face coverings and used them when necessary. Many took the opportunity to take photos of the surrounding peaks and of course Mt. Rainier! There is something special about Mt. Rainier. She is just so majestic set against a blue sky. We are so lucky to live near her. Lots of exploring can be down at Mt. Rainier National Park.

This hike has a couple talus fields to cross. I have to admit I’m not a big fan of talus fields. Since the rock moves constantly there are always rocks on the trail and the fields seem to put off a good amount of heat and reflection. Sunscreen, lip sunblock and a hat were necessary items! Along with lots of water!

Towards the top there is a 15 foot section of trail that still has a block of snow covering it. Some chose to be brave and try to create steps in the snow above the trail. Most of us chose to drop down and try to skirt the snow. It was a bit slippery but made it with no issues.

I had a big surprise at the saddle, with the sighting of a transplant mountain goat! Washington State Wildlife officials have been moving the goats from the Olympic Peninsula (where they are not native) to the Cascades (where they are native). They are easily identified by the tracking collars they wear. They are much happier in the Cascades with better food options throughout the year and the ability to roam freely. They are just the cutest and always a happy surprise when you see one!

The actual Katwalk is a narrow path carved alongside a slab of rock. If you continue past the Katwalk, there are two lakes where people backpack. My feet were a bit tired and it was getting pretty hot so I decided to stop at the Katwalk. There was a nice breeze at the top so that felt pretty good. I saw several trail runners at the Katwalk so they are at least doing the 12 miles!s. Crazy!!

On the way down I saw Mr. Goat again. He had moved down the trail a bit and was lounging on the mountainside in a patch of flowers having some lunch. I saw a lot more people on the way down who were headed up in the heat! They were all pretty excited to know they would get an appearance of a goat. The information gave them a bit of energy boost to keep going. I was glad to be heading down around 11 AM. It was hot but we still had not reached the heat of the day. I felt back for those who were heading up in the hottest time of the day.

The hike down was pretty uneventful. Great views on the way down. Pretty much staring at Mt. Rainier most of the way. Sometimes the trip back always feels quicker, but on this one I wouldn’t say that was the case. Probably because the sun was up much higher so there really wasn’t much shade until almost the very bottom. Might also have been the developing blister I could feel on the back of my right heel. Now sure what that was all about. My normal boots and socks, but wowza not a fan of the quarter size blister I now have!

I’m feeling good about the 12 miles. Coming off a significant shoulder surgery in January, I am working on getting my stamina back and wearing a backpack. I generally don’t wear my summer Osprey 22 pack as the shoulder strap sits right on one of my repair areas. I normally wear my Osprey 36 which sits better. I decided to gut it out and wear my 22 and it was pretty good. I was a bit sore at the end but nothing major. That’s progress!!

Another great hike to check off my list! I’m trying to set my ambitious sights on Mt. Adams and Mt. Baker next summer. We shall see!

Mount Ellinor minus goats

Mount Ellinor is part of the Olympic Peninsula and has been home to non-native mountain goats for years. Over the years the mountain goats became too friendly with hikers and developed a reputation for being quite aggressive. The state began relocating them last year but a few still remain. Sometimes when you climb Mt Ellinor you get lucky and see a few goats and other times they are nowhere to be found.

Mount Ellinor has been on my list for awhile. From the lower trail the hike is 3.6 miles each way. The first 1.9 miles takes you through a typical Olympic Peninsula forest. Dry forest ground and massive for trees. This portion is really nice but lacks a view outside of the trees. The elevation gain is only 1,600 feet so it is a nice warmup for the rest of the mountain!

Some people choose to start at the upper trailhead and skip the first 1.9 miles. The trails meet at 3,500 feet and you start a rapid, constant ascent to the summit. Over the next 1.6 miles you climb nearly 2,500 feet in elevation. The trail is mostly well marked and consists of a lot of stairs, both made of rock and laid timber by trail crews. There is no shade on this section so it can get quite hot. There are several opportunities for great views over Hood Canal on a clear day. Unfortunately even though the forecast was for clear skies, I had a pretty thick marine layer that hung around all morning and significantly limited the view.

This climb is a grind. There is no other way of saying it. Your calves and thighs are burning! Because of the twists and turns of this hike you really can’t see the summit until the very last stretch so you really don’t know how much further you have to go.

I did finally make it to the top in 2.5 hours. I was pretty happy with this due to the elevation gain and the slick footing. At the top the marine layer of fog made visibility very low. We really couldn’t see much of anything around us. I was able to sign the logbook so that was pretty awesome! I ate some lunch and talked to a few other hikers at the top as we all hoped stalling a bit would allow the marine layer to burn off, but no such luck!

The trip down was not so enjoyable. Due to the loose dirt and rock it made for seeing the stairs difficult and slipping was a regular occurrence. It was slow going until I made it out of the rock area and back to the forest. There was a pretty steady stream of hikers headed up while I was on my way down. This is a very popular trail! I was a bit surprised at just how busy it was on a weekday.

I’m glad I was able to check this one off my list but don’t think I would do it again.

Oyster Dome again (with view!)

Well since my last experience with oyster dome didn’t come with the famous sweeping views of the San Juan Islands, I had to go back.

This time I brought my 16 year old daughter and she needed some fresh air and time out of the house! We decided to make a weekend of it so we stayed in a hotel for some new scenery! Oh course with a little extra time she managed to get some thrift store shopping in!

We woke up Monday to a slight breeze but it was clear we were going to have blue skies! Woohoo!! My kiddo has been on a couple hikes with me but not many. Now that she is older I think she may enjoy it better. We arrived at the trailhead around 10:30 and headed out. She was quickly taken by how quiet it is and commented how much she likes to hike and would like to do it more. Yay! It was a good hike for her. Difficult but manageable.

We arrived at the top and quickly saw the spectacular view that was missing last time. Surprisingly there were only a few people at the top so we were able to find a good spot, with appropriate social distancing. A couple guys showed up and were taking some crazy photos hanging off the ledge! I was pretty sure we were going to watch one of them fall to their death. Air Jordan’s aren’t the best hiking shoes! Thankfully nothing bad happened!

We had a little snack and took the usual set of photos and headed back. There was a steady stream of people we passed who were on their way up. We had the perfect time there with just a couple other people. Pretty sure I can get her out on another hike now!

Back at the trailhead we saw about six people getting all setup to paraglide. This is one of the cool spots about this trail. I imagine it must feel pretty amazing to glide like that but I’ll settle for just watching!

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