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Monday, August 2, 2010

Senior Hiking #362 - Mt. Pend Oreille Loop/Gordon Creek Trail

64° Jul 19, 2010
Lake Darling #52/Mt Pend Oreille Loop/Gordon Creek Tr #161
…hike # 362

By Betsy
Back up 20 miles of twisty Trestle Creek Rd again. We did this hike six years ago on a very hot August day in 96°…I remember it well. I also remember that we took the old, and wrong trail from the lake to the top of the ridge…I did a lot of muttering under my breath about bushwhacking thru the high and thick overgrown brush. In 2004 we had noticed a nice looking trail heading out the east side of the lake but our map showed the trail to the west so we took that one. (We now know the map was not up to date!) Before we knew it, we were deep in thick brush, climbing over huge downed trees and walking thru muddy boggy areas and thankfully the moose and bears kept it navigable…today we did it the right way.
There was a car parked at the trailhead, and we eventually met up with the guy who was camped at the lake, a short 2¼ hike in and elevation 6276’. He said he would soon be headed up to Mt Pend Oreille as were we. Took some pics of the backside of the mountain from the pretty little lake. We said our goodbyes and this time headed up the correct side of the lake to the ridge and when we got there, decided to go all the way up to the top of Mt Pend Oreille once again. All of a sudden I noticed quite a chill in the air and then saw a huge patch of still unmelted snow on the left side of the trail. The air was hazy but the wildflowers were blooming everywhere. I don’t remember ever seeing so many and so abundantly ablaze with color. I took lots of pics, including another pic looking down at Lake was a long and steep hike up from the lake to the top of the mountain.

Descending, we met the guy who was camped at the lake as he was coming up. We chatted for a while, introduced ourselves and said goodbye again. I noticed he didn’t have a camera, nor a pack or water. He said he needed some peace and quiet, rest and relaxation…and was totally enthralled with the incredible vistas and beauty all around us. He reminded me of a combination of a now deceased friend of ours and our son Steve, both of whom love hiking and the peace and solitude of the mountains.

Now back on trail, and this time we knew exactly where the turnoff trail, #161, was to get us back down the lake. Omigosh, it was so steep and long. This, our second time down it, will be our last if I have anything to say about it. I think that the first time back six years ago, I was so brain dead from the heat…I didn’t even remember how steep is. It just went straight down all the way, seemingly never ending, and the descent was 2500’ in two miles and two hours! A few meadow-y areas ahead, we stopped for a rest and threw rocks down the hill and were like kids watching them bounce higher and higher down the steep grassy grade. Okay, enough fun…let’s get the heck down and out of here!
Lots of water and mud to plow thru and a few more downed trees to get over or under, and we were down and back to the main trail, and finally to the truck. A planned 8-mile hike turned into a 12-mile hike…but the day was a perfect one for this hike.
Left home 9:45Started up 10:00Got to lake 11:00Top of Mt P.O. 1:10
Descend mountain 1:30
Got to truck 4:10Got home 5:30
Total miles hiked 12 miles
Total hiking time 6 hours, 10 minutes

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