Saturday, August 14, 2010

Kaleetan Peak - South Route - 08.13.10

4000'+ elevation gain
12 miles RT
Left car: 8:15 am
Summit: 12:15 pm
Back at car: 4:15 pm
8 hours car to car

Adam and I opted to do something. He wanted something "mellow" as his leg was bothering him from playing soccer. I wanted exercise. We decided on Kaleetan Peak as it seemed fairly mellow. The trip had similar stats to my hike of Alta Peak last year which I completed in five hours. This trip, we were bringing helmets, but that was about it for extra weight. The pack really feels light on a day trip like this.

We left Seattle around 7am and were hiking a little after 8am. We made great time on the trail and got to Melakwa Lake in good time. (I wasn't paying attention, but probably in a little over an hour and a half.) We took a break at the lake where we were surprisingly not bothered by mosquitoes. Then we located the trail to gain the ridge. We opted for gaining the ridge at the outlet of the lake as it is easier, and we were looking for a mellow outing. There are a few other options near the inlet of the lake, but they involve more scrambling.

The trail goes up through forest for while and meanders around some cliffs before getting near Point 5700, sometimes called the false summit. Just below there, the slopes become a bit more open and there is a little bit of talus to cross and then another band of trees before climbing open talus slopes to the top. Then the trail dropped back down on the west side of the ridge through some horrible muddy slopes where the veggie belays were mandatory. Then the way traversed a bit before going up through talus to gain the ridge once again. We tried to take a brief break, but the bugs were bothering us and we continued on.

The path started getting steeper and less trail like, so we put our helmets on. I was moving a bit faster than Adam and near the gully to the summit he declared he would not continue as his leg was bothering him too much. I continued up the scramble which was very easy and I liken it to the haystack on Mt. Si. Although it has been a while since I've been on Mount Si, I remember the Mt. Si gully to be more loose and steeper. I reached the top and was greeted by another hiker we saw ahead of us. He was kind enough to let me summit before heading down the gully. The views from the summit were great. I could see Mount Garfield, but could not see Anne and Sabrina who were supposed to be on the peak. (It is seven miles away.)

I also enjoyed the "peak finder" on the summit which was dated from 1935. I didn't need it (do I really need to be told the name of Mount Rainier?) But it was an interesting artifact. There were some flying ants on the summit which made me not want to stick around too long as they had a bad habit of landing on me, including one getting inside my sunglasses. I made a brief attempt to head to the west end of the summit area, but thought better of it being up there alone. I grabbed my pack and headed back down to Adam, where we continued further a bit so I could eat a lunch.

We scrambled back down the talus and had a freak incident of rockfall come from high on the ridge. It was headed right for Adam. Unfortunately, he slipped and had difficulty moving fast from the final piece. He remained untouched, but aggravated his leg injury in the process. This isn't an area where there are goats, and we didn't see anything moving about, so we scratched this up to just natural rock fall. After that, the rest of the trip down to the lake was uneventful.

By the time we arrived back at the lake we were out of water. (I drank three liters and the temp is Seattle reached 84°F.) We decided to take a dip as we didn't have a means of filtering the water except for Iodine, and that would take a half hour and we'd be very close to the car. The brief swim was refreshing and we both soaked our headgear in the lake before continuing down hill. After about an hour the cooling effects wore off and we'd attempt to soak our hats in any stream we passed. Even that was no longer doing the trick and we just gutted it out to the car where we had water waiting. I had a ferocious headache like someone was stabbing me in the eye for the last twenty minutes of the hike. We got to the car and guzzled water.

This was a fun if hot outing. Definitely a possibility to do alone and just the right amount of difficulty for the trip I wanted. (A little more than what Adam was up for though.) The heat really took a toll, and it made me think I do not want to be out for the rest of the weekend without a reliable water source nearby. Had I anticipated the heat would affect me so much, I would have carried four liters with me instead of three.

My pics are here.

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