Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sleeping Beauty 8-30-10

Went up to Washington to visit my folks and was planning on a scouting hike up Mt. Adams. The weather was pretty snotty around the mountain, so didn't get a chance for that hike, so switched gears and climbed another mountain I've spent a fair amount of time around. Sleeping Beauty overlooks Trout Lake, and really does look like someone laying down asleep from the right angle and distance. The summit, at 4900',  is a rocky outcropping, and there used to be a fire lookout perched on top. The lookout was burned by the Forest Service in the late 60's, my folks told me a few interesting stories about that, but there are still a few remnants of foundation.

I went into this hike not knowing the length or elevation, since I decided to hike it after I got up there. Tell you what, even if I'd known, I wouldn't have thought it was as difficult as it turned out. The trail is about 3.5 miles round trip, but its the slope that surprised me. Starting out, its running pretty steep, around 30-40 degree for the first third or so. The middle section is fairly mellow, dropping back to 5-10 degrees. Then it kicks back up to 30+ and switchbacks for the push to the top. The elevation gain is about 1500' from the trailhead, so pretty fair gain in elevation for a 1.75 mile hike. Once you get above the tree line, that's when the reward of this trail really kicks in. On a clear day, you can see Adams, Hood, and St. Helens, and even though it was fairly overcast and quite a few threatening fronts rolling toward me that day, the views were still amazing. Then the construction of the trail gets your attention. To climb the rocky switchbacks to the top, the trail builders used the shale right from the mountain to build retaining walls. It's quite a sight to see for the first time.

Once you reach the end of the trail, you are sitting in a small gap between two rocky outcroppings. The remnants of the lookout are to the south up a short rock scramble. Not too steep here, but stay vigilant, because you are climbing above about a 500' cliff. Standing up there where the lookout once stood, I felt an interesting feeling of history in a way, that people used to spend summers up there watching over the forest. Its a mixed emotion, the view and isolation is amazing, but at the same time watching the ominous fronts heading in my direction, the thought of such isolation in the face of a strong summer storm must have been daunting. You would have to be a hardy breed to be able to spend weeks if not months at a time in such a place.

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