Glorious Victory on Pinnacle Peak
This 2017 year is a year full of hikes. Well, not quite yet, but it will be! We've just entered into the month of June and I have accomplished two hikes so far, one called Punch Bowl Falls in Oregon and this Memorial weekend, Pinnacle Peak. A plan is underway, concocted by Kerby and I, to do one hike per week with a slight break in July (we'll each be out of the country...more on that to come soon). It is a big goal, but an achievable one. Most especially considering the hundreds of amazing trails, hikes, lakes, and mountains that are within a few hours drive.
Pinnacle Peak is a dormant volcano, comprised of 265 acres and a 1,000 ft vertical climb that is not very forgiving. Mind you, my legs are not at their best and most reviews give the hike 2 stars for difficulty. I discovered a new muscle that day in the outer regions of my glutts. Its name is gluteus medius. 4 days later, I am still feelin' the burn.
The Peak is located in the farmlands of Enumclaw, about 50 minutes outside of Seattle. It is 4 miles round trip and can be accessed from the more forested north end and the wide graveled path of the south end.
What to Expect:
We accessed the trail from the south side where parking is just along the side of the road, nothing official or designated. Not too far into the long walk up, through the brief breaks in the foliage, you can see the massive graceful mountains blanketed in trees. If that sight isn't enough, to a slight left, is the magnificent Mt. Rainier. Its snow capped top is bright and striking.
After about 1 mile you come to a big grass clearing with one picnic bench perched perfectly near an opening in the trees that offers a lovely view of the land. It was here on our way back down that we laid claim of the bench and enjoyed a lovely time of sunbathing and relaxing in the sun.
The remaining distance, still a continual incline, is in a much more forested area. There are multiple little paths to take after a brief descent into the forest. We took the path to the left and weaved our way along the widest of the trail options. The ground was filled with large jutting stones that felt like stairs. I'm thinking those sealed the fate of my gluteus medius pain.
The scenery was beautiful.
At one turn there is a large wall of columnar basalt, which is an amazing geological sight. The basalt is volcanic rock; the beautiful result of the cooling process on thick lava flow.
At the summit is a fire lookout, with three wooden benches that are all deeply engraved by past adventure goers. It was great to say hello to all of the other hikers as we began to gain our breathe again. This could very well just be me, but it felt like every hello was a collective congratulations and a welcome to the shared victory of making it to the top.
Victory thy name is Kelsey and Kerby.
Now, I am embarrassed to admit, we were slightly disappointed. It was beautiful, intimate in its size and the way in which it was enshrouded by trees, but that thick cover also meant there was no view of the landscape or the mountain. We had hoped for a panoramic view once we reached to the top, but alas, no.
It was then that I made a very conscious decision to appreciate the beauty of this summit and, more so, appreciate the journey of our ascent. Sometimes we place a lot of emphasis on the destination, especially when we think of all of its features that we want to document and remember. But sometimes it does not fulfill our expectations and it's easy to feel unsatisfied. The willpower to keep climbing, the fostering of friendship as Kerby and I heaved grunts of support to one another, that is the beauty of the journey. And what makes the destination more memorable. As we recouped our energy, we enjoyed our blueberries and carrots and successfully avoided possible rabies from a cute and inquisitive visitor.
A really poignannt, surprising part of the hike occurred on our return down. We came across a small memorial site that honored three servicemen who were part of the 6th Air Calvary. I had assumed they were residents of the area who had lost their lives in combat. As we continued our descent we noticed a large wooden cross nailed into one of the tall trees. A man noticed our pause and study of it and explained it was put up in honor of those men. Turns out they died in 2006 from a helicopter crash here in the Cascade foothills after hitting a tree during a night training flight.
It was a sobering moment, but really beautiful to see the expression of faith and support demonstrated in a way as natural as the tree it was attached to. Their names are CWO Patrick J Paige, CWO James E. Whitehead, and SGT Thomas L Clarkston.
A general hike tid-bit to know: you do not have to have a trail pass for Pinnacle Peak (as many of the other hikes require).
Washington State passes range from $10-$80 depending on the length of time and types of parks or trails you are planning on visiting. A great point to know and remember is that those charges are per vehicle and in the case of Washington State's Discover Pass, can be transferred between two vehicles. So if you have friends who want to join an outdoor adventure endeavor, splitting the costs makes for a really amazing and easy investment.
Hike 3 soon to come!