A DeSOLation SensationI had four days available the weekend of July 20-23 so I made a plan to climb two more 2kP peaks on my to-do list: Desolation Peak (6102F, 3222P) and Hozomeen Mountain (8066F, 3966P). For the former I would be solo doing the north route (not the standard trail route). For the latter I would be joined by Julian Simon and Dave Creeden, who would be meeting me Friday night at Hozomeen Campground.
There was a gaggle of folks camped out at the lower campground next to the lake but nary a soul could be found at the upper trailhead campground. This was nice as it allowed me to get a pleasant night’s sleep with my car’s doors open to let out the muggy fug that would surely build up inside otherwise. It also allowed me to sleep in my underwear outside of my bag in privacy. Even that crepitating deer (bear?) didn’t bother me.
Friday, July 21, 2006
I took the Hozomeen Lake Trail for 3 miles to the junction with the short trail that leads up to the lake. I dropped my pack and headed for the lake where I got my first view of the next day’s objective:
North Hozomeen Mountain.
A skuzzy trail goes around the west side of the lake. Leaving this trail (I know not how far it goes), I angled up away from it to tag Pk 3338 (498P)--henceforth (as of July 31) called "Hozomeek Peak". One down, two more to go for the day.
Returning to my pack, I then carried on up the main trail for several hundred more yards before leaving it to ascend the steep forested slope on its south to gain the long ridge between Little Jackass Mountain and Desolation Peak. I think I gained the ridge just southeast of Pt. 3700.
Eventually I found myself at the top of Pt. 5967 where my friend Mike Collins said there awaits an old register dating back to 1967 from a Dr. Fred Darvill of Mt. Vernon, WA. According to Mike, Dr. Darvill is still alive and still lives in Mt. Vernon (here is Mike’s report). Mike and his pal John Meyer were the sixth to sign the register and I was then the seventh. Kind of cool. To keep even cooler, I removed my shirt and climbed topless (ooooo!) for the rest of the day back to the car. Did I mention it was hot and only getting hotter?
From there I carried on aimfully to Desolation Peak (6102F, 3222P). The final rise to the summit is steep but a rough boot path can be found. I had packed along a 24-oz Heineken to trade with the lookout for a water refill from the cistern. But the lookout was un-manned. Budget cuts? How was I going to stand at the same Osborne firefinder as Jack Kerouac if the door was locked? I looked under various rocks and boards stowed under the lookout for a hidden key, but could not find one. Besides, maybe the register’s not kept in the lookout when not in use. So the bad news is I didn’t have a trade to make. The good news is I didn’t need to make a trade. I simply drunk the beer and “stole” all the water I needed out of the cistern, which was easily located 100 feet away. The water didn’t taste half bad either.
Time from car to summit was roughly 6 hours but I did do an extra peak on the way and take a long break on “Darvill Point.” If doing the climb straight from the car, allow for 4.5-5.5 hours depending on conditions and weather.
On the return I intended to climb Little Jackass Mountain. This is the low-but-bulky massif just south of the campground and west of Hozomeen Mountain. I contoured the west side of Darvill Point then set upon tackling the long long long endless endless endless ridge between there and LJM. I was down to half-a-quart of water on the final push and I was beginning to feel a strange “cool” sensation on the back of my neck. Was I getting heat stroke? The sun was beating me with its thermal truncheon. Perhaps I was merely experiencing a DeSOLation Sensation.
At about 5:45pm I finally kicked that Little Jackass (4387F, 1027P), took the requisite scenery photographs, and set about descending the east side back to the car. I had so dearly wished to take a “bath” in the lake but I didn’t get back to the car until 7:00 or so and the sun had already set on the boat launch swimming spot. So I opted to clean myself up with camp water. Joy.
Roughly 15 miles round trip; 12.5 hours; 6,500 ft of gain.
Here are the images from my day
[For a trip report of the next day's climb of Hozomeen Mountain click here.]