I wonder what the poor
people are doing today ?
I can almost see the smile break out across my grandmother’s face as she would enthusiastically pose that question. She was usually with her family at a get-together of some sort. She would be wrapped up in the sheer happiness of the moment, eyes sparkling, and then she’d use this question to remind us how very rich our lives were. How rich WE were. Real wealth has nothing to do with money.
I felt like that today as I meandered along the trail to Mt Townsend. It was a long drive for me, with the last 14 miles on a remote forest service road to the small parking lot at the trailhead. It’s a popular hike for many different reasons. I got the last marked spot in the lot at 7:55 AM. Over the next four and a quarter miles, it climbs. First on dirt and needles switchbacking through the forest. This lower part of the trail is lined with wild rhododendrons and worm-like moss as you climb through old growth hemlock and fir.
As you break out of the forest the wildflowers begin in earnest. Columbine, Indian paintbrush, lupine, chocolate bells (mission bells) and paths lined with phlox. You’ll hear the crash of a towering waterfall before you see it cascading out of the side of the hill. Outcroppings of rock exploding in color.
I started a new treatment for my RA this month. Between the cold weather and the stay at home order it has been a lazy couple seasons. I had abandoned my good exercise routine and started a slow slide. I had so many plans for my first spring in retirement.
Every winter the cold settles deeper into my bones and lingers longer than the year before. Spring begins the thaw. The stiffness in my back and hands are the last to loosen, each finger slowly unfolding like a wildflower. My back unfurling as if transformed from krummholz to swaying branches of a cottonwood.
Four miles of switchbacks through the forest, crossing ravines and mountain run-off. Blankets of needles and earth, slowly shifting to loose rock along the ridge paths. The outcroppings of rock along the top of the Mt Townsend make for a good resting spot before tackling the meandering ridgeline. There were only small patches of snow, hardly worth a mention, dotting the trail above. The views are mind-blowing on a clear day. St Helen’s, Adams, Rainier and what I believe is Glacier Peak (please correct me if I’m wrong). Stunning.
I went in search of a named benchmark for Mt Townsend. I found a couple survey markers but none bearing the Mt Townsend name. My GPS logged nearly 5 miles before I headed down. The elevation gain is just over 3,000 feet. It’s a bit longer and steeper than I ordinarily hike, but the switchbacks help even-out the sense of vertical gain and the views are so distracting it feels like you aren’t working hard at all. This nearly ten miles of hiking definitely bumped up against my limit for these early days of summer.
Yep. I definitely wondered what the poor people were doing as I strutted in all of the richness and wealth of this mountain. A pretty good Monday and I’ll be sharing my 50th WTA trip report ! A milestone for me.
Nice to be one of the rich people today.