Crescent Mountain dirt-shoeing

May 4, 2014.

8.6 mi. | 2200′ ele. gain | 3.5 hrs.

The Old Cascades Crest. It is notO as glamorous as its next-door neighbors, the Three Sisters. The mountains are smaller. They’re covered in more trees. They are a little further away from a major city. But they are home to some of my favorite trails and peaks. And it’s not only because it’s quieter out there (because it is). These places are ruggedly beautiful and on a clear day, they offer incredible vistas of all the big mountains. Today I took Aaron to one of my favorite peaks: Crescent Mountain.

I wasn’t sure where the snow level was so we strapped snowshoes to our packs just in case. May was a bit early for all these highpoints to be melted out. You never really know what you’ll need until you get there. We called it training weight and set off on the trail.

The approach hike was pretty. The gently graded trail wove through an evergreen forest dominated by Douglas fir. Tiny fairyslipper orchids bloomed along the trail. We crossed a bridge over a bubbling creek and started climbing uphill.

Once we reached the meadows we were greeted by thick clouds that had enclosed the area. Eventually we hit some consistent patches of snow and put our snowshoes on.

Once we re-entered the woods, the snow thinned out and eventually large areas of dirt lay ahead. We stubbornly kept our snowshoes on, anticipating more regular snow coverage.

It never came.

Defeated, we removed our snowshoes just before the summit, as it was easier to kick steps with our bareboots to gain the last bit of elevation. On top, we celebrated with our heads literally in the clouds. No views today.

As we ate our lunches, we kept our fingers crossed that the clouds would break. We waited, and waited. Foiled again. The gray was here to stay. I waved goodbye to my favorite summit, thinking, “better luck next time.”

On the way down, we were treated to some patches of blue sky!

Back in the trees, the miles went down fast. Near the end of our journey, we stopped to enjoy the sights and smells of skunk cabbage. We also notices some gumdrop-looking things growing out of a log. Nature does have a curious sense of humor.

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