Aug 03
View south from the low Divide

The Olympic National Park is huge, rugged, and nearly impenetrable, the interior of which has only recently been greeted by the foot of man. O’Neil took a military troop up Hurricane Hill in 1885, forming what is essentially the road that we now use to get to that location. Washington State became a state 1889, and the desire to have a deeper look into the interior of the Olympics prompted the Seattle Press, a local newspaper, to sponsor an expedition across the Olympic Mountains. A group of 5 people signed up, and with a mule, 4 dogs, and lots of supplies, headed off into the mountains, intending to take a route up the Elwha River, and then down the north fork of the Quinault River. They were successful, though the expedition took them 6 months and many trials. This expedition is nicely chronicled in a number of books and online. We essentially repeated the fundamental track of the expedition, though going in a reverse direction (south to north) and having the pleasure of trails, bridges, and precise routes nicely laid out for us. What we still had to contend with was the fiercely rugged nature of the Olympic Mountains, along with the need to ford both the upper Quinault and upper Elwha Rivers. The Seattle Press expedition could not have picked a worse time of year to do their expedition, which probably could have been done in far less time during the spring/summer season. In the trail books, we hiked a total of two trails, the north fork of the Quinault to the Low Divide, and the Elwha River trail from the Low Divide to the trailhead at Whiskey Bend.

Day #1 – 6.6 miles, North Fork Quinault Trailhead to Elip Creek. The day started with me meeting Russ at his house, and together with his wife, we drove two cars to the completion trailhead on the Elwha River. The road was washed out, and so the completion trailhead lay about 7+ additional miles (which we would have to walk) to the car. I then got into Russ’ car, and we drove around the Olympic Peninsula to the starting trailhead on the north fork of the Quinault River. Wishing Kim goodbye, we started our trek about 2 pm, leaving us only a few hours of hiking. The trail started out somewhat flat but quickly changed into progressively more and more climbing. After passing a group of kids close to the trailhead, we ceased to see anybody on the trail. Once settled into camp, a group of two guys descended the Elip Creek Trail from the Skyline Trail to settle into camp with us.

Rather fresh and clean in appearance
Trailhead sign
the lower north fork of the Quinault River, suggesting hills in the distance
Russ, chilling out for our first night at camp, the Elip Creek flowing in the background

Day #2, Elip Creek Camp to Low Divide Camp, 10 miles. The climbing progressively got steeper, but was characterized by multiple ups and downs. The Quinault River could be seen frequently to our right, until we reached 16 mile camp. Here, we had to ford the Quinault River (i.e., no bridge across the river), had lunch at 16 mile camp, and then proceeded to much more vigorous climbing to ascend to the top of the Divide. All the while, the mountains could be more and more clearly seen. At 16 mile camp, we saw a man and his son who were doing a prolonged ramble through the Olympics, and eventually was greeted by a hiker who was just behind us on the trail, and then camped on the Low Divide. In essence, there was almost nobody on the trail.

Mountains appearing to the south as we climb out of the Quinault River valley
A blessing that the Press Expedition did not share. Without bridges, the trip would have been immensely more difficult, since many of the streams cut deep canyons into the mountains
The thinning of vegetation as we near the low Divide
Waterfall cascading off of the face of Mt Seattle
Another view of Mt. Seattle
Large meadows on the Low Divide
Russ settling in on the Low Divide. The mosquitos were not too bad.
My tent settled in on the Low Divide
A bear sauntered just 20 feet from our camp. I saw one other bear the next day down along the Elwha

Day #3, 18 miles; Low Divide camp to Elkhorn Camp. Coming off of the low Divide in the northerly direction proved a little more challenging than expected. We were on the trail by 7 am, and was soon greeted by a sign announcing the actual low Divide, representing the watershed between the Quinault and Elwha systems. There were two beautiful lakes that we passed high up on the Low Divide. We were warned that the trail was not too good on the other side of the Divide, and our experience proved that to be completely correct. The trail definitely needed serious brushing as it descended very rapidly off of the Divide, and there was much windfall across the trail, forcing us to crawl under, crawl over, or hike around the fallen trees. Toward Chicago Camp (at the base of the descent) there was windfall that was so extensive that a trail could not be found without extensive searching and crawling around the dense forest bed. Ultimately we reached the Elwha River, where a fallen tree permitted us to walk dryly across the upper Elwha, which is usually a river ford. We reached the Chicago Camp at about 9:30, taking 2.5 hours to descend 4 miles. We then needed to make up time to arrive at Elkhorn Camp before nightfall. There was still extensive brush obscuring the trail, as well as river fords, and obstructions from windfall. We arrived at Elkhorn Camp at about 5:30 pm quite exhausted. Elkhorn Camp was a ranger station with other buildings but otherwise was not the nicest camp to stay at.

Yup, the actual Low Divide
Lake Margaret high on the Low Divide
The other side of Lake Margaret, looking back at Mt. Seattle
Russ, carefully fording the Elwha
A beautiful bridge across the Hayes River, with a steep rock canyon
A cabin at Elkhorn Ranger Station
The Elwha from my tent site

Day #4, 18 miles, including 11 miles from Elkhorn Ranger Station to the trailhead at Whiskey Bend, and then 7 miles of road and detour trail walking. I expected the remaining 18 miles to be a flat river walk, somewhat akin to the Hoh or the Quinault Rivers. It was everything but that, attesting to the wild rugged nature of the Olympics. The only thing common to the Olympics is that everything is green, and everything grows well within the peninsula—after all, it IS a rain forest. We were up at 5:30, and after a relaxed breakfast of oatmeal, a granola bar, hot chocolate, coffee, and medications, we were off and running. We passed a number of different campsites, many of which looked quite appealing for camping, but some were run down with downfall owing to the challenge of park access with the road being washed out. We stopped several times for meal breaks, which included either peanut butter and jam, or tuna fish, rolled up in a tortilla shell. Bread will squash, and so tortillas make the perfect alternative that will last a long time and still taste well. Of course, vitamin S (Snicker bars) or a similar treat continues to fuel the walk and enjoyed while resting beside a creek or river, delighting in God’s handiwork. We passed an old homestead along the river, and then reached Whiskey Bend, the end of the trail, at about 11:30. Russ and I took a long break here. Everything was eerily quiet. Since leaving the Low Divide campground, we had seen only one person. We were in our own little wilderness thanks to the road washout. After walking five miles of gravel road (which was actually quite beautiful), we arrived at the now flatter pavement and continued the road walk another 2 miles to the detour. It was here that we now started to encounter many tourists. To our dismay, the detour forced us to do much more climbing, and in 0.8 miles eventually arrived back to the pavement a short distance from our cars. It was a quick trip back home, and to a sweet wife and warm welcoming shower.

Very dense rain forest. Everything was intensely green
Humes Ranch building
At Whiskey Bend trailhead, but with 7 more miles to go to reach our car
Remnant of the upper Elwha Dam
Looking down the narrow canyon which housed the upper Elwha Dam. Both the upper and lower Elwha dams were removed in order to allow the salmon to again run upriver. both the lower dam, built in 1910 and this dam, built in 1927 have since been removed.
Russ and I have now reached our vehicle along the lower Elwha. Motivated by a careful diet of spoons over forks, we have been able to nutritionally power our bodies to perform such super-human acts like walking across the Olympic Mountains and still come out smiling! For only $37.99 Russ and I will gladly impart our knowledge of this simple but special diet for avoiding disease and maintaining health and vigor well into old age.

Was the backpack worth it? Of course. I felt a little bit like I was back on the PCT, with all its daily routines and planning contingencies. I had dreamed for years of doing this hike. There is great joy when exploring an unknown area of the world, and on this hike, the sights and terrain were completely different than what I anticipated.

Tagged with:
3 Comments »
Jul 25
Talapus Lake

Talapus, Olallie, Pratt, and Lower Tuscohatchie Lakes, 23-25JUL2020 with Patrick and Ethan

I was itching to discover more of the lakes in the Snoqualmie Pass region of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and decided to do this hike with several of the grandkids. We took off on Thursday, and when we arrived at the Talapus Lake Trailhead at 7:45, it was already filling up. The total hike to Olallie Lake was a little more than 3 miles, but we first passed Talapus Lake. The trail was not terribly steep with a lot of flat spots and a highly manicured trail surface. It took us a leisurely pace of about 1.5 hours to get to camp. We camped on the far side of the lake, where there was nobody else our first night. On Friday night, we were surrounded by 4 more tents filling the campsite. The kids went swimming, while I loafed. We did a several mile exploratory hike around the lake.

Highly manicured creek crossing on the way to the lakes. The surrounding was dense forest.
Olallie Lake

The next day, after breakfast, we did a 6-7 mile day hike to Pratt Lake and lower Tuscohatchie Lake. This trail had a bit more demanding elevation loss and gain. On approaching Pratt Lake, we had a lengthy segment of traversing talus slopes. The rock in this area was predominantly granite. We did lunch at lower Tuscohatchie Lake, and headed back to camp.

Talus slopes of granite surrounding Pratt Lake
Pratt Lake
Another view of Pratt Lake
Looking down the Pratt River valley toward the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River
The kids at lower Tuscohatchie Lake where we had lunch
Ethan back at camp, in a most hungered state

The kids again did more swimming, we made supper, and went to bed early. By morning, our campsite was plumb full. It took less than 1.5 hours to get back to the car, even with stops and photographic moments.

Patrick and Ethan back at the trailhead, eager for more adventures.

The drive home was uneventful. I had several objectives for this trip, the first being the desire to explore more of this portion of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, which is within an hour of home, but usually flooded by Seattleites. Secondly, I wished for the kids to become more independent of Opa. Patrick shows strong promise, and he is ready to head out on his own into the woods for an overnighter. Hopefully, his parents will let this happen. I gave Patrick more responsibility, essentially not telling him much. Ethan will need a few more years to be set free in the woods, as he needs to realize that the woods must be taken seriously. Fortunately, he seems to enjoy being in the woods more than any of the kids, and thus my delight with taking him along.

Tagged with:
2 Comments »
Jul 21

Summit Lake, with Liam Flanagan, on 20-21JULY2020.

Summit Lake has been a favorite hike of mine for taking beginning hikers. It’s only 3.1 miles, with 1300 feet of elevation gain. In fact, nearly the entire hike is climbing, though not steep. The drive to the trailhead 7 miles of a very poor gravel road, best taken with a 4-wheel drive vehicle. There was intense logging operations ongoing, but we were not stopped at all, and only passed one logging truck. Most of the gravel road was the width of one car with a shear drop-off on one side, so I was grateful for light travel on the road. We arrived at the trailhead by 9:45, which was already nearly filled with 10-15 cars. Liam led the way. It took him 1 hour and 20 minutes to complete the hike, and we then selected a campsite where I’ve camped with the other Flanagan kids. Other sites were nicer, but this was simplest with easy access to the lake as well as to the trail out.

On 22JULY, Liam will be celebrating his 11th birthday. Thus, I let him pretty much set the agenda for this hike. This was his very first backpack trip, so he was most eager to participate in exploration of the lake. First though, we set up our campsite, including our tent, and had lunch. I finally talked Liam into taking a walk around the lake. This gave us great views of Mt. Rainier, distant Mt. Stuart, the Alpine Lakes area, Glacier Peak, as well as Mt. Baker. It was approximately two miles around the lake. Snow was still melting, so we had a bit of time walking through snow, yet the forest was covered with Avalanche Lilies (mistakenly called Glacier Lilies in my last post-Glacier Lilies are yellow). Other flowers were in abundance.

Liam reaching the border of the Clearwater Wilderness, where Summit Lake sits
Liam contemplating the challenge ahead
Mt. Rainier in the background. The hills are alive, with the sound of Liam.
This view of Mt. Rainier was right from the lake
Rainier from the hill on the far side of Summit Lake
A view with Mt. Rainier, Summit Lake, and Bearhead Mountain between. You can see snow still around the lake. The temperature of the lake water wasn’t much warmer than that of the snow.
Spreading phlox
Subalpine Lupine (fairly sure)
Cow parsnip (fairly sure)
Woolly Yellow Daisy
Liam at camp, showing hunger pains
Liam finally relieved of hunger pains
Liam practicing his Chinese (inside joke)

We went to bed near sundown (8pm), and woke up at 6 am the next morning. We did a relaxed exploration of the campsites around the lake, ate breakfast and then packed up everything. It took us an hour and 10 minutes to reach our car, with me stopping to take lots of photos to slow us down. The ride out was again rough, but we made it to Buckley by 11 am, in time for a stop at Wallys. I treat all the grandkids on their first hike to a Waltimate burger, a HUGE hamburger about 10″ across. Liam was able to eat about ½ of it, keeping the rest to be eaten later. The burger, incidentally, was plant based, the portion which came from a cow came from a cow that only ate plants.

Liam wondering how he was going to eat the whole thing! They used to serve the burger with a knife and fork!

Tagged with:
No Comments »
Jul 17
Mt. Adams from Takhlakh Lake

Takhlakh Lake, 15-17JULY with Betsy and Gaylon

Betsy and I have been discussing an outdoor activity that we could do together, and we came up with a camping trip as an option we’d both be happy with. Campgrounds in Washington State are plum full! After searching for a while, I found a 2 consecutive night option at Takhlakh Lake, a lake I’ve never even heard of before. This lake is accessed by traveling 100 miles from home, including 7 miles of gravel road, and sits right at the base of Mt. Adams. It seemed like a godsend in a moment where every campsite within 100 miles of us was either filled, or at a place I’d have no desire of going to. I contacted my brother Gaylon, who is a world authority on car camping, and he agreed to meet us there. The drive was quite easy, and most of the journey from Puyallup to Randle was very familiar to me. Arriving at the lake, we realized that our reserved campsite was very small, probably explaining why it wasn’t filled. Still, I was able to get up the Kingdom 6 (without the garage) for Betsy and me, and also put up a 4 man tent for Gaylon. He arrived soon afterwards, and began giving us instruction in the fine art of camping.

Betsy relaxing with Gaylon’s tent in the background.
Betsy chillin’ with brother Gaylon
Photograph of the mountain in the evening, manifesting alpenglow.

That evening, we did not feel like cooking dinner since we were eating junk food all day. The next morning, I decided to take a hike up to the mountain. The trail followed partly a road, and then went straight up the mountain. The grade was not terribly steep and the trail conditions were quite good, with little mud and no obstacles to climb over. Eventually, the trail became steeper until I was able to achieve the timberline, and intersected the PCT. At this point, the PCT was completely under snow.

Glacier lilies lined the trail, and filled the large meadows at the timberline of Mt. Adams
There were plenty of shooting stars, as well as very early Indian Paintbrush, lupine, cinquefoil and other flowers unknown by name to me. The beargrass was also plentiful.
The NW face of Mount Adams from near the timberline. In the center is the Adams Glacier, second largest glacier in the state of Washington (next to the Carbon Glacier on Mt. Rainier). I’ve climbed Mt. Adams many years ago, the usual approach being from the south side. A lookout tower was built on the summit of Mt. Adams in 1916, which was manned for 8 years. Today, climbers are still greeted with the building on the mountain summit.
Now standing on the Pacific Crest Trail, completely under snow. I saw no footprints of recent adventurers who had attempted this portion of the trail.

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5252604777 shows my Garmin track for the hike. In all, it was 12 miles with 1600 feet of climbing.

That evening, Betsy and I cooked up spaghetti and meatballs, with a salad. The weather was perfect. Our entertainment that evening came from a host of chipmunks and birds in the area. The next morning, we woke up to rain. We had a quick breakfast, packed up our tents, and ran home. In all, we had an awesome time, with a great interest in doing at least one more car camping trip before the rainy season sets in again.

1 Comment »
Jul 14
Echo Lake

Echo Lake, Norse Peak Wilderness, 13JUL2020

I’ve been contemplating harder day hikes, and shorter 1-2 nighters to get me up to speed for a lengthier segment of the PCT this year. My decision is to try to get in the majority of Washington if possible. It has been a very weird year for doing the PCT. I have come to the conclusion that the greatest enemy to PCT hikers has been the PCTA organization, for NOT supporting hikers on the trail. This year would have been perfect for doing the high Sierra, except that trail support was entirely lacking. I also considered completing the most northern segment of the California segment of the PCT from Castilla to Ashland, Oregon, but, being locked up at home in fear that the Wuhan virus or something even worse might afflict me kept me from getting in enough training hikes to make a go for it. In addition, the snow was more than normal this last year, restricting choices on hiking trails. It was a very rainy late spring, turning most of the trails into lengthy mud puddles and diminishing any enthusiasm for being outside on the trails.

I’ve accomplished a lot of day hikes that I haven’t documented, including hikes to Annette Lake, Melakwa Lake, and a number of other places. Yesterday, I completed a hike to Echo Lake, which is immediately off a historical mountain pass (Naches Trail), used heavily in years past but now forgotten. A major fire went through the area in 2017, but fortunately left the hiking trail to Echo Lake alone. Some day, I’d like to do a 3 day loop which goes past Echo Lake, to Corral Pass, Noble Knob, and the to Lost Lake before returning back to the trailhead. I’m told that a moderate portion of that loop goes through burnt forest. In approaching Echo Lake, I saw only patches of forest fire, though the entire hillside on the opposite side of Echo Lake was clearly burnt.

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5233398313

I started the hike just before 10 am. I had never driven this road before, thinking that it was gravel. Instead, the access road was paved to the Echo Lake trailhead and then beyond for about a mile. The hike started as a fairly flat trail with a few ups and downs as it follows the Greenwater River. At about two miles, one arrives at Greenwater Lakes, the lower being a small pond, and the upper an area where the river broadens out into nearly a lake. There were a few campsites in this vicinity for less eager hikers.

Lower Greenwater Lake
Upper Greenwater “Lake”

The trail had bridges across the river 7 times as the trail zigzagged along the river, all of them but one were very nicely built bridges…

One of seven bridges
Several unstable logs, with a rope strung along to assist in getting across this stream

Along the trail, the grade became steeper. I passed the turn-off to Lost Lake. There was a Lost Creek Backpacking camp which had only one tent in it, and soon after, I encountered two young boys who were camped there. Those were the only two people I saw on the way in. Finally, 8 miles in, I arrived at Echo Lake. It was large and quite beautiful, save for the forest fire remnants on the other side of the lake. The bugs were few, and the campgrounds were quite nice. I was really tempted to jump in the lake for a swim.

Echo Lake. The distant hills were scarred with fire.
One of a number of nice campsites at the lake.

The trail out was greeted by many more people than I was coming in, most being close to the trailhead. Apparently, this is a very popular trail, and I can see why. Hopefully, I can return again and perhaps loaf a day or two at Echo Lake. Or, I could complete the loop that I mentioned above. Perhaps, I could do both!

1 Comment »
Jul 11
Mason Lake

Mason, Rainbow, and Island Lake, 10-11JULY2020

Thinking about short backpack trips that I can do until I return to doing a segment or so of the PCT, I have been exploring the trails that I have never been on within 100 miles of home. I have been attacking the Snoqualmie Valley/Pass area of late. I decided to do an overnighter this time up to some lakes. On Friday, I had a lot of little things to do, and so didn’t get away from home until about 11am. The exit from I-90 to the trailhead is just a few miles from the Snoqualmie Pass summit, and then a gravel road for several miles, replete with deep potholes, was greeted with caution, even for my off-road Tacoma pickup. Arriving at the trailhead, the parking lot, extending about ½ mile down the access road, was packed. Thankfully, I noted a hiker just departing, and so was able to park close to the trailhead in the main lot.

The weather was perfect, not too hot and not too cold, with few bugs on the first day. The hike in was 6.5 miles with over 2400 feet of elevation gain. It didn’t seem that far, even though all but a mile or so were uphill. The views of the Snoqualmie Valley were quite spectacular, and when one got up high enough, could then easily see Mt. Rainier. Once achieving the crest of the mountains surrounding Mason Lake, it was pretty much all downhill. At this time, the trail turned somewhat muddy, though the mud could be easily avoided. There were few bugs today to bother me. I set up camp, had dinner, and spent time exploring. Many of the campsites were taken at the lake. The trail itself was quite packed with day hikers, about 30% of them suffering from VIS*.

Looking across the Snoqualmie Valley. One can see I-90 at the base of the valley, and the Iron Horse trail providing a streak ¼ the way up the valley, which is a rail to trails project.
Looking across the Snoqualmie Valley, with Mt. Rainier in the distance
My tent, a Zpacks Duplex. Absolutely love it; it weighs slightly more than 1 pound, and can fit 2 people with 2 vestibules.
Just showing off my tent, with pad and sleeping bag inside.
My camp situation. I use an UrSack for my food. Though it was designed for bears, I use it to keep out smaller vermin, like chipmunks and squirrels. I use a JetBoil stove, and oftentimes eat simple packaged meals. This evening, I enjoyed a seafood bouillabaisse.

The next morning, I was up by 6:30, which is extreme sleeping in when I am in camping mode. My 7:30, I had breakfast (oatmeal, granola bar, hot chocolate, and coffee), packed up everything in my backpack, and then took off, leaving my backpack at camp, but using the hiking poles which were holding up my tent. I wanted to run up to Rainbow and Island Lake before returning home, which added about 2 miles in each direction from Mason Lake, and involved quite a bit of climbing in both directions on a roller-coaster trail. The trail was quite muddy, with occasional patches of snow to cross. I first reached Sir Richard Pond, then Rainbow Lake, and then took the side trail to Island Lake. I thought that Rainbow Lake was the prettiest, but Island Lake the most secluded.

Sir Richard Pond
Rainbow Lake
More of Rainbow Lake
Island Lake

There were a few people camped at both Rainbow and Island Lake, but with available spots that could have been occupied. I could have gone on the Pratt Lake but didn’t have my pack, nor enough time to make it there and then back home. So, I returned and picked up my pack at Mason Lake and headed back to the trailhead. On the return, starting at Rainbow Lake, there was a mass quantity of hikers on the trail. I also noted my more mosquitos, controlled easily with Picardin insect repellent. Just past Mason Lake, it was an endless stream of hikers. Oddly, nearly 95% of them suffered from VIS. The trailhead was extremely packed with cars, and on the drive out, the cars parked beside the road went on for nearly a mile, oftentimes making it a challenge when cars coming up to the trail were encountered. The lesson is that most of the Snoqualmie Valley trails should be avoided on weekends, and even during the week, the hiker should arrive at the trailhead before 9am.

All in all, it was a lovely hike. In a week or two, I would like to get up to Talapus and Ollalie Lakes, or perhaps even Pratt Lake, with time to explore the other lakes around. I need to take my grandson Liam on a child-Opa adventure within the next few weeks. Next Wednesday, I’ll be doing some car camping with Betsy and brother Gaylon for two nights at Takhlakh Lake, close to Mt. Adams. Meanwhile, I’m trying to decide what segment of the PCT I’ll be hiking this year. Hopefully, I might be able to finish the Washington State segment. It’s been a truly weird year for hiking, and hopefully, 2021 will return to normal.

P.S.; VIS = viral insanity syndrome, easily detected by noting hikers quickly covering their nose and mouth with a piece of cloth when approaching other hikers. There were several Muslim ladies on the trail, who were dressed as though they came straight from Saudi Arabia, and almost seemed natural on the trail!

1 Comment »
Jul 06

A. Lincoln, by Ronald C. White, Jr. ★★★★

This is a delightful 676 page biography of Abraham Lincoln, well studied and well written, describing Lincoln’s life from birth to death. The book reads quite easily, and inspires one to appreciate the greatness of the man who was to be our 16th president. I appreciated that the book was also heavily illustrated, and that the illustrations were not to be found in the center-of-the-book glossy pages, but abundantly mixed with the text.

I shall not detail and reiterate Lincoln’s life, being born in Kentucky, moving then with his family to Indiana, and then to central Illinois. White details how Lincoln was mostly self-educated, including studying law and passing the bar exam on his own. Lincoln dabbled in politics, winning a 2 year term in the House, mixing that with maintaining a highly successful law practice. Several failed attempts to achieve elected office ultimately led to his improbable but highly fortuitous win of the presidency.

Lincoln was considered an amateur in politics. He came under severe criticism for being inept and misguided. This continued on through the entirety of his presidency. Lincoln achieved an immortal status mostly after his death. Unfortunately for Abe, he entered the presidency during the onset of the rebellion with the South. Lincoln held preservation of the union as most important. Sadly, he was bedeviled by truly incompetent generals, the first (McLelland) was pompous and completely inadequate as a general, though he had the audacity to run against Lincoln for Lincoln’s second term in office.

It is odd that so much of the discussion regarding the civil war, that it was not over slavery, that it was a question of state’s rights, that the question of how to deal with the negro, the question of dealing with internal rebellion, suspension of habeas corpus, etc., remains questions that persist to today. Sadly, so many contemporary Confederate sympathizers of today present these issues as issues that were only critically analyzed and resolved by the South. I can appreciate the worn-out, hackneyed sympathies of the South but consider these assertions as mostly contentious rather than thoughtfully critical. Likewise, contemporary assertions that the South tended to be the most “Godly” against a heathen North, fail to recognize the deep religious convictions of Northern Generals and northern folk. Lincoln himself, though he grew up a Baptist and had no church affiliation for much of his life, attended a Presbyterian Church in Washington DC with Phineas Gurley as the pastor, a reverend who studied under none other than Charles Hodge. Many of Lincoln’s speeches bore witness to the heavy influence of Reformed thinking.

White excelled at providing analyses of Lincoln’s speeches, pointing out the literary techniques that made Lincoln uncannily exceptional as an orator. Indeed, White has written an entire book on the 2nd inaugural address, truly one of the greatest speeches of all mankind. Lesser minded folk will heap criticism on many of Lincoln’s greatest speeches, such as his Gettysburg Address; these very criticisms only attest to the absence of value if casting one’s pearls before swine.

Lincoln, toward the end of the war, was much concerned about the restoration of the south in acts of reconstruction. Sadly, he was assassinated before that could ever happen. We don’t know how things might have evolved differently had he been able to serve out a full second term as president, and speculation is unwise. What is tell-tale is how so much of the north, just like the south, really had no vested interest in the negro. True, many in the north detested slavery, and that, out of religious convictions. Both the north and the south refused to look on the negro as equal in value to any other human being. Whether they were most fit to be either slaves or second class citizens, there was little interest in helping the negro achieve a foot in society, only to have Woodrow Wilson’s segregationist policies extremely exacerbate the problem. Lincoln was correct in his 2nd inaugural address that blame is affixed to the entire nation, and not just the south, for the negro problem. Sadly, the problem hasn’t gone away.

I highly recommend this book. It is well written, though a touch tedious to read at times, and sometimes missing in details that I would have appreciated reading about. White paints Abe Lincoln as one of a few truly great Americans and Ole Abe deserves that distinction, regardless of those who would challenge otherwise.

Tagged with:
1 Comment »
Jul 04
Monte Cristo Trailhead, Sam, Ethan, Patrick

Monte Cristo was a booming silver mining town at the end of the 19th century, thriving in a basin of surrounding majestic peaks. The town died early in the twentieth century, but some activity had persisted in the town, finally terminating completely as a town when superfund cleanup of the town and mining sites occurred in 2015. Between fires and cleanup, the town is now left to a few remaining wooden structures. It is distinguished in that it was the location for the very first Trump hotel, a massive structure of two stories tall.

The three oldest Flanagan kids (our grandchildren) were eager for a hike. Since I was with Ethan for a hike last week in the neighborhood of this hike, I knew that he was capable of doing this hike. I didn’t tell the kids that Jon had planned to meet us later int he evening after he got off work. The walk to Monte Cristo started at Barlow Pass and was along the bed of the old railroad tracks providing the only access to the town at one time. About 1/2 way to town, the train crossed the river which it was following, continuing along the east side of the stream. This bridge and the west side banks of the tracks had been washed out, forcing a crossing of the river on a large log. The designated campsite was just before town. The town itself is a national historic site, but also private property, meaning that the campsite had to happen outside on national forest land. Patrick, Sam, and Ethan slept in a 4 man tent, and I slept in my Zpacks Duplex tent. We explored the town, had dinner, and then Uncle Jonathan showed up about 8 pm, just before dusk.

Three Hobbits heading down the trail
The townsite is returning to the wild
Preserved signage from the town
The lodge, which some people believe was the old Trump hotel

With Jonathan, we decided to first explore a trail that heads west from town on the next day, taking us up to Silver Lake and Twin Lakes. Jon was up this way from last year. The trail was a persistent vigorous climb, but when we had reached about 4400 feet elevation, in the vicinity of Poodle Dog Pass, we hit continuous snow. Our hope of making it to Silver Lake or Twin Lakes was pretty much dashed. We could have plunged through the snow for a distance, but really wasn’t prepared for this. So, we returned down to town, did short excursions, cooked up dinner, and went to bed early.

A view of the surrounding mountains from near the top of Poodle Dog Pass
Poodle Dog Pass
Three fearless adventurers with Jon
Looking down on Silver Lake. In a month, it will be a perfect camping spot. The trail to Twin Lakes goes persistently upwards off to the left.

We woke up early on the 4th of July, and had most of our belongings packed, leaving up only our tents. We decided to quickly run up to Glacier Basin, south of town, before hiking out. The views were even more spectacular than yesterday. Snow-capped mountains completely surrounded us as we wended our way up the path. At about 4400 ft again snow was encountered. Just before that, the trail became very steep, with one section having a fixed rope to facilitate ascent and descent. Because there was a fantastic waterfall right there, I let Jon take the boys up a bit further before we all turned back to town. We were able to quickly pack up, and the hike out was less than two hours. After wishing Jon goodbye, the drive home was quite easy. It was amazing to see huge attendances to the trails coming off of the Mountain Loop road, with miles of cars lining the road from folk spending their 4th in the mountains.

Mountains completely surrounded us
A large waterfall on nearing Glacier Basin
Very happy hikers
Very worn out hiking shoes. They went into the garbage when I arrived home.
The trail to Glacier Basin was lined with Columbines.
Tagged with:
No Comments »
Jun 29

Goat Lake, Washington, 6/27-6/29/2020, with Jon and Ethan

I am in the process of taking each of the grandchildren on a backpack or adventure trip with me. That trip would be with the grandchild alone (as a kid). On this trip, our son Jonathan accompanied and was able to keep Ethan more entertained than I could have done. We planned on spending two nights, but decided that one night would be better, if we could start very early in the morning, since this is a popular camping locale. Ethan and I drove up to Arlington to meet Jon on Friday afternoon. We crashed in his living room, but was off to the trailhead by 7 am. I took a little more than an hour, and 4 miles of gravel road to achieve the trailhead. We started hiking just a little past 9 am, and was at the lake by 11 am. The campground was quite large, which took us some time to decide on a preferred camping location. Jon had his tent, and I brought a 3 man Big Agnes Copper Spur tent.

The remainder of the day was spent exploring the area. Jon and Ethan did a little bit of adventuresome hiking, while I mostly kept the camp under close watch.

Jon’s tent
Hiking pals
Making use of camp chairs. The dirt was so soft, the legs of the chairs would sink completely and throw off the sitter. Ethan did not have that problem.
Another view of the lake

We had lots of freeze-dried food samples for dinner, none of which were palatable to me. I’ll stick in the future to the diet I ate while doing the PCT. Ethan had a great time, and always was very cheery, never complaining. I was able to talk a lot about the subtleties of fine backpacking, and we were able to develop the sport of tortilla frisbee. If fact, he was most eager to return another day for more backpacking. On the trail, Ethan always let the way and kept a 2.5 – 3.5 mph pace, which is unusual for a normal kid like him. He was an absolute delight to hike with. We are already planning another hike together!

Ethan and I at the completion of the hike.

The hike itself was not bad. At a little more than 5 miles each way, it was mostly uphill going in and downhill coming out. Going in, we did the Lower Elliott variation, which kept us quite close to the river. Coming out, we followed the Upper Elliott route. Both trails were moderately muddy, but we were able to keep reasonably clean. The upper route was more even, representing that it used to be an undeveloped road at one time. The weather was mostly cloudy, but it rained quite a bit during the night. The campgrounds had a privy, and we were very close to an easy source of water. In all, this hike was a great choice for a first hike with Ethan.

Tagged with:
3 Comments »
Jun 16

Mount Rainier: A Visitor’s Companion, by George Wuerthner ★★★★

Within the next few years, I plan on doing volunteer work within Mount Rainier National Park (MRNP), and hopefully, being a trail walker. This means that I walk the trails in popular spots in the park, and tell people to stay on the trails and leave their pets in the car, as well as answering their questions, and offering help and guidance. I have hiked essential every trail in the park, as well as climbed the mountain twice via the Disappointment Cleaver. In a way, I feel that it is my backyard park, and it is! Thus, I wished to read a summary of information that might be helpful to those who would be curious about the park.

The book does offer a very superficial summary. It starts a very brief history of the park, the weather, the climbing history, as well as how the park was made a national park and then developed. Next discussed is park geology; it’s a volcano! Surprise, surprise! The geography of the park has changed a bit over the years, since glaciers, mudflows, and extreme weather has had an influence on the mountains. Wuerthner then has several lengthy chapters discussing the flora and fauna in the park. The chapter on plants in the park offers a page summary of the common trees, flowers, and shrubbery; the summary is not thorough enough to offer an identification guide. Fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals all have their own chapters, with descriptions accompanied by editorial comments. The last chapters are on hiking in the park, and nearby attractions to the park.

The book is most superficial in its detail so that any detailed information on any of the topics in this book must be found elsewhere. There are major books on the geology of the Northwest. Abundant histories of the park exist and can be obtained at Amazon. Climbing history of the park is best detailed in Dee Molenaar’s The Challenge of Rainier; this book is truly an excellent classic text on the history of climbing the mountain. Tree, flower, and animal guides would better serve the visitor than this book, though the summary of the main park plants is very well done. Hiking in the park is best guided by one of many hiking books specific to MRNP, such as the classic Harvey Manning and Ira Spring’s 50 Hikes in MRNP.

If one wishes for a brief summary of MRNP, this is a good place to start. If there is a particular area of interest, my advice is to look elsewhere, including a few of the texts I had mentioned above.

Tagged with:
No Comments »
preload preload preload