Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wells Peak, Chahlis & Hope Mountain

Slide Show of the Adventures!
An Amazing couple of Weekends - going from our First attempt at the Hope Mountain cache and ending up at the top of Wells Peak, to take off to Butler Lake for a 4.5 FTF then to Blakeburn, then the family reunion then back out to Chilliwack Lake FSR for a couple of quick caches - meet with Jordy's Caching Idol - to have Kameron come up for a bit - then out the next weekend to Chehalis and then climaxing in the ever enduring final climb up to the where the adventures were supposed to take us originally - Mount Hope.. 8 days over 20 KM of hiking and in that 20 Km - climbing up over 5000 feet in total elevation..

Alpine Meadow at top of Wells Peak

Boy are we tired - but still thriving in the excitement of it all. Here goes the longer version of the story.. :)
We had rested up the whole week in anticipation of our Saturday Goal - but being that we're not avid hiker's we didn't do all our research. We followed the instructions on the page to the parking location but beyond that were depending on our instincts - can't be hard should be one trail only. We get there see the "bowl" that we are in with all the logging roads that surround us and see a trail marker. The trail marker states "Wells Peak" - hmm well there aren't any others - let's follow that. Even thought it's in the opposite direction of where we want, we figure it will match up with a logging road and then we can zip over to where we are going.

Those Roads look drivable - don't they?

How could we know just how wrong we were, but still an amazing journey and well worth the extra trip up. We first beat our way through the grasses and bushes getting very wet, then found the trail markings and found our way to the "trail". Was very neat you come out of the grass to this extremely well worn in trail with a sign on a tree asking for no campfires. We figured - yeah we're all set! So we continue on up - and up and up and up and up.. well you get the idea.

Up and Up and Up

Ensuring to stop and notice the incredible views that surround us, the beautiful forrest area and everything else. We keep looking at our distance and we're getting further from the cache, not closer. The clouds are still in the horizon so we can't even see the views of the mountain tops. We continued on up for about 3 hours to what now turns out to be Wells Peak, we look at how far we are and very confused. So we turn on the PDA (yes we finally have one!) and manage to get an internet signal and send IRLPguy an e-mail at 1780 meters with our coordinates.. lol asking him to send help we're lost!!
The peak was beautiful, there was a rock slide there from years ago and the terrian that we had traversed - so many varities of it. Although feeling a bit frustrated that we had gone all that way and not gotten the cache we were shaking our heads that we didn't have one to place up here.. lol Just as we were about to head down we stopped and the clouds disapated off and we saw the peak we were supposed to be climbing up about 4 km off into the distance and went.. ohhhh there it is..

Mount Hope - the big one in the distance!

We got back onto our feet and made our way down the hill to the jeep, however just as we found our way off of the top of the hill into the forest section we heard a "rock slide" and really didn't want to know what had caused it, just glad we were elsewhere now, and slowly made our way back down. Did you know going down those inclines at 20% is just as hard on the body as going up.. lol
We then took off to the cabin, stopping long enough to turn on the hot water then made our way out to Butler lake for Mercrocks new cache out there, we used a bit more of a creative route - going back up the Stringer Lake roads, down the gas line and then up the power line to the closest point we could get -which was about 700 meters and walked our way into it - which seemed like nothing after our 7 km hike earlier in the day. Really neat little lake in there, we made it in and back to the cabin at about 1:30 in the morning. We ran our bath and promptly fell asleep.. lol we were exhausted.

Our Friend at Butler Lake at 1 AM

The next morning we went up to Blakeburn, which is on the way to loadstone, to grab a new cache that was placed there. I haven't been there before and was amazed at the old coal mine that is still there, and did a quick tour around to see the buildings and the coal pit that is still there. A smaller version of the huge one that still runs there to this day. We then had to boot it home to make the family reunion.
We stayed there long enough to do what was needed, then made our way home to sleep. The next day we had plans to meet up with Ed (IRLPguy). Jordy and I have been wanting to meet him for months, and it has never worked out til now. We spent a few hours there discussing what else - geocaching!! He he - was great to see Jordy in his glory. We didn't have our full coordinates and querries with us so Ed tossed a few of his to us. After a great visit, that we'll have to repeat soon, we made our way out Chilliwack Lake FSR up to Foley lake.
Ran accross an abandoned camp fire that was still burning, so we stopped to put that out and clean up a bit of trash as well, then continued on up to Foley Lake. The typical idiots out on a long weekend, and some kids that actually were cleaning up after themselves.. wow we thought! About this time we started heading back as Kameron should be up here at any time and we needed to be back in Cell Phone range. We made one last stop, to find a puzzle cache that I had figured out months ago - IRLP's Artifact - we finally found it. Excited to be the first finders of the year and it's already August. It's nice to see someone else has been here since us.
We then headed back to civilization to meet up with Kameron - did some logging and fell asleep exhausted.

Blakeburn Abandoned Mine

Now fast forward from Tues-Friday and do you think we'd want to repeat this - of course we love a good beating.. lol Our goal for Saturday was to go complete Hope Mountain and then on Sunday take the easy drive out Chehalis - well we switched around our plans do the weather changing - and I think fate directed it. We drove out Chehalis wondering if the gates would be open/closed grabbing the caches along the way and then got to the gate and it was open!!! very excited we were.
First stop on our list was the AlleyKatz Cache - we managed to get the jeep within about 700 meters after going through a few incredibly large cross ditches til we finally got to one that just couldn't be crossed.. lol so we hiked our way on up to the "big rock" then quickly identified the cache.. now this cache has a bit of history it has been chomped by a bear in the past and then put back. Well all the holes have taken there toll on the cache and the ants have opted to use it as the egg laying next right now.. and well we all know that I don't like ants.. Jordy cleaned it up, got rid of the ant eggs and did what we could with it. If we can get up there again we'll bring a new container.

Waterfall Near AlleyKatz Cache

We then continued on up to grab the Agassiz Angels cache that was still an FTF and the view was incredible! WE took the hard way in of course, then got there and discovered there was an easier route.. lol We then went up and found the last "traditional" cache that was on our list. Almost didn't find it - luckily we had flashlights, we had to use them at 3 in the afternoon to find it.. he he. Last cache on the list for the day was Ed's Chehalis Lake Earth Cache, well the roads all seemed to be closed so logic stepped in and we figured we'd take a walk down to where the gates were closed to see if we could get the picture we needed.
We were lucky enough to be right. We parked at the top of the hill, the gates were "open" but they had closed off the road with a 5 food cross ditch - would take a tank to cross that. Couldn't figure out why at first - but then the hill might not be stable, but people may also take this opportunity to drive out where they shouldn't. Turns out after talking to a few people that we were lucky the gate was open. Apparently it is supposed to be closed, however people keep cutting the locks and opening it. Had we known this we wouldn't have gone in - however there were no signs stating don't go.

Bugs at Chehalis Land Slide

The next Day - our last cache in our adventerous weekend - Hope Mountain. We had woken up to rain and figured we might not make it, but then the rain stopped and started and stopped and started.. lol We got up and headed out and decided let's see if we can do it. We got back to the parking lot at 1 pm this time. We had researched it during the week and knew the proper trail head and had 7 sets of coordinates to help us get there. Thankfully we did it completely broke up the hike into nice mentally bite size pieces that seemed doable.
20 minutes into the hike I was ready to turn back, my feet were soaked, my pants were soaked - all due to the descent into the blue berry bushes and the slight rain/mist that was in the air. I didn't know how I was going to do this hike. Jordy looked at me and asked if I wanted to turn back I thought really hard and said no - if we turn around we'll never do this cache. So we marched on.

We made it to the first sign which said Wells Peak and Mt. Hope.. lol could have used one of those last weekend, we took the Mt. Hope way this time.. lol we then made our way up the switchbacks to the top of the ridge. We finally made it to the top of the ridge - which was about 45 minutes into the hike, 2 beautiful benches up there to set and take in the mountains and the valleys below - amazing. We crossed over the ridge down onto the old logging road and discovered that the roads aren't really driveable anymore.. lol then up the next forest area - I left my jacket here at this point as it weighed about 15 pounds and was soaking wet and continued on. At this point we had about 1.5 km left and were about 2 1/2 hours into the hike. We also still had about 350 meters in elevation to finish climbing.. lol
We were wet, tired and exhausted but still persevered til we got up to the Alpine Meadow with the pond - quiet - misty - serene! perfect. AT this time the clouds moved away and we could finally see our final ascent that we had to climb - gulp is all we can say.
We then crossed over the "minor" rock ledge, up the rock hills and on up and on up - till we reached the top - but only our initial log and pictures can share our excitement so I will leave you with those.. :)
In the end - so worth it, I'm still exhausted but so looking forward to the next one in a few weeks - Stoyoma!

Walking back down after leaving the peak of Mount Hope

An amazing Journey is all we can say - ok I can say more. We proudly claim the FTF on this one!
We got back to the same parking lot as last weeks journey at about 1 pm and took the correct route this time, descending into the valley of the blue berries, but there were no blue berries on the branches - but I guess that is better as there are also no blue berry bears either.
We were lucky enough to have researched the hike this time and came up with a set of coordinates that we could use along the way to break it up into bite size pieces of about 600 meters each. That helped us more mentally that you could ever guess. First we knew at all times were on the right track, but also you actually reach "goals" along the way.

The views along the way were breathtaking, even though we were walking in the clouds through some of it. Cache #539 will always stand out in our mind of the one that pushed us to see how far we could go. When you stand back at a distance and look at that mountain top we first thought there is no way to do this, however as we reached each of our mini-goals it became closer and closer. About 2 hours into the hike it became real that we could do this.

We made it to the peak of the ridge and sat for a moment on the benches up there, then continued on our way to the logging road and then up along parallel to the logging road keeping an eye open at all times for the flagging tape. We then made our way into the "foresty" area with trees and no deciduous bushes. Beautiful - reminds me a bit of the redwoods - don't know why but it does.

We then kept climbing up in elevation to the "rocky" area that we quickly traversed that let up to the alpine meadow. Amazing!! the mist slowly rising off of it the quiet solitude that you feel here. At this point we were only about 910 meters so we were very motivated to continue as it was almost in reach! We then continued across the very minor "rock ledge" the old rope that is referred to in references couldn't be seen - we might have missed it though. But it was only about a 2 foot section that you have to be careful at.

We then continued making our way up til we were about 190 meters and then saw the peak in front of us and did a gulp - we have to climb up there - but you know what it wasn't that difficult. It always seems more difficult looking at it then when you're doing it.
Jordy finally left the back pack at the bottom of the final climb as it was only 50 meters we figured if we needed a first aid kit in the next bit one of us could climb down and get it easy.
We then crested the final climb and stood in amazement at what we could see (and knew what we couldn't) in the distance and just how high we were!!

We found the log in it's happy hidey hole, left our turtle calling card and took a look at the towers - amazed at how they got here - we're assuming some helicopter brought them in.. :)
We then slowly made our way down and back to the Jeep - reflecting on how excited we were that we made it - and that we have now done over 20 km of hiking/climbing over the last 8 days and amazed and the fact that we did it and reflecting on how amazing it is to stand at the top of these mountains and look below and see mother nature in her glory -
Would we do it again - yes Was it worth it - Yes
Thank you for putting it up there and helping us learn that we truly have no limits when we put our minds to it - So the question is where do we go next? We've got some ideas

Cold, Wet, Windy but Victorious - at about 5:30 pm