Almost Kendall Katwalk -- November 14, 2004

This hike is rated 4 boots out of 5 on the Hiking Boot-o-meter.  It might have been a 5 except that the rating rules for this web site only allow the maximum of 5 to be awarded if the target destination is successfully reached.  In this case, sadly, it was not...

We had arranged to meet old hiking buddy Rick at the Factory Outlet in North Bend at 8:00 on this cold and rainy Sunday morning, and had in fact already apologized in advance in case we were late.  We congratulated ourselves as we pulled off of I-90 at 7:50 and did our usual gas station breakfast, then headed across the street to the Outlet, arriving at 7:59 sharp, and were shocked to see no trace of Rick.

He finally came waltzing into the parking lot fully 7 or 8 minutes after the appointed time.  We appreciated this turn of events, given that he has had to wait for us a time or two or three over the years, and we consider that we are now a tiny bit closer to punctuality parity with him.  Beyond which, we were thinking that maybe he had bailed out on us given the bad weather.  Sorry, Rick, but it did cross our minds for the briefest of moments.

In any case, we all headed up into the mountains in the rain and wind, and soon found ourselves at the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) trailhead on the north side of I-90, right off of Exit 52 at the Snoqualmie Pass summit.

It was not much of a surprise that the trailhead parking lot was somewhat uncrowded at 8:45 on a cold rainy Sunday morning at Snoqualmie Pass.  We had a short discussion about bagging the whole deal and heading to a nice restaurant for a real breakfast, but agreed that since we were already at the trailhead we should go through with it. Our hope was to get to the Kendall Katwalk, about 5.5 miles north on the PCT.

It really wasn't quite this dark - the camera flash not only lit up the rain drops but also stopped down the camera lens causing everything out of flash range to be underexposed.

As expected, the moist Northwest Fall weather facilitated lots of fungal activity.

Rick seemed to sleep through the first 1/2 mile or so.

We spotted this HUGE fungal blob at the base of a stump.

It brightened up a bit during the morning,

and the fog gave the landscape a pleasantly ethereal feeling.

Now it was Sue's turn to get some shuteye, perhaps a bit too much so...

We pressed on, enjoying the details of the forest, and approached the junction of the PCT and the Commonwealth Basin Trail. In the lead, Speedy Sue blasted right by the junction, and, as bad luck would have it, followed her nose and took the wrong fork to the left, heading to Commonwealth Basin.

Now we all know that standard hiking safety protocol dictates that the lead hiker of a party, when arriving at a trail junction, should STOP AND WAIT at the junction till everyone else in the party shows up, thereby preventing the hiking party from becoming spread out on different trails and loosing track of each other.  This, of course, assumes that the lead hiker SEES THE JUNCTION, which in this case was a bad assumption.

So Speedy Sue was headed off toward Commonwealth Basin as the 2 stragglers arrived at the junction, wondered which way she had gone, and decided to continue toward the Katwalk hoping that she had taken the right fork, and hoping to catch up to her.  After 20 minutes or so, there was still no Sue.  We figured that we should have seen her by then, so we stopped and decided that Rick would continue on the PCT toward the Katwalk for 20 or 30 minutes then turn around and head back to the junction and wait, while David would double back to the junction and look for her on the Commonwealth Basin Trail, then wait at the junction after either finding her or giving up.  In the latter case, we would then have to figure out what to do.

As David approached the junction, there she was, a bit the worse for wear and scare as can be seen above, but quite safe and relieved to have been found - although she would later claim that Rick and David were the ones that got lost.  Hmmm...  She had gone a ways toward Commonwealth Basin, and noticing that no one was behind her, stopped and turned around, but then wasn't sure what to do when she got back to the junction.  Fortunately, she continued up toward the Katwalk, and we were reunited.  It could have gotten a lot worse, since just a little ways down the Commonwealth Basin Trail there was another fork, so we could have had 3 people spread out over 5 sections of trail.  According to Sue, some cheap walkie-talkies are on the Christmas gift list for this year.  It was suggested that some walkie-lookies-where-you're-going would be a good idea too.

We hooked back up with Rick after he had turned around and was heading back to the junction, and decided that there was a definite lesson to be learned from all this excitement.  In any event, it was still not too late in the day to get to the Katwalk, so on we went, with Sue definitely not in the lead.

Rick had been looking forward to an Old Growth Tree Hike, and, tree-hugger that he is, enjoyed the forested sections of the trail.

We stopped for a quick snack before breaking out of the trees, and enjoyed the ice on the fir trees.

It was right around 32 degrees on the ridge, 

and the windward sides of the trees had a coating of ice.

We broke out of the trees, and the weather seemed to close in,

but as we climbed higher it got brighter,

and brighter,

and brighter, till finally we broke out of the fog layer.

The views were spectacular,

but as we climbed still higher, the trail was covered with more and more snow,

till finally we reached a spot where one slip would have been 'the end'.  So, although the Katwalk was tantalizingly close, we decided to weenie out and not go any further.  This was disappointing of course, and we are somewhat concerned that we're falling into a pattern of aborted hikes, given the 'early turn around' on the infamous Kalulau Hike in Hawaii last September.

But in any case, the views made the hike more than worthwhile,

and we vowed that this would not be our last 'mud hike'.

Here we are pointing to the backside of the Katwalk, which seemed close enough to reach out and touch.  A stiff wind had found us, so with equal amounts of bitter disappointment and bitter cold, we turned tail and headed back down the hill.

All too soon, we were back in the trees and fog,

and soon stopped at this curved tree and had lunch.

Before long the cold got to us, the gloves came out for the first time since last spring,

and we hit the trail again.

We particularly enjoyed the icicles at the ends of the branches of this little fir.

The moss was obviously enjoying the weather.

Toward the end of the hike we re-entered the thick forest, and it was getting quite dark.

We never really needed flashlights and headlamps, but with the slippery mud and exposed wet roots we had to tread carefully.

Waiting for us in the car was half of a great home-made home-grown apple pie from Laurie that Rick had given us that morning.  We beat it back to North Bend with the heater blazing, Rick headed back to Yelm, and we stopped at the store and picked up some vanilla ice cream to go with the apple pie.

All in all, a fine, and certainly adventure-packed, day of hiking.  Thanks to Rick for joining us, and to Laurie for the apple pie.

10 miles round trip

2,700' in and 300' out

8:50 - 4:20 including the time spent on the Speedy Sue Search and Rescue Expedition

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