My wife, youngest daughter and I set out on what turned out to be a 3 week trip visiting Northwest California, the Oregon Coast, and Northwest Washington. There was no set itinerary and I had no idea if I would get to climb or hike any peaks along the way. Because of this I didn’t bother to check on summitpost for any particular peaks. Niki (my daughter) and I did get to the summit of Saddle Mountain in Northwest Oregon along the way.
Now comes the adventure. After visiting the Hoh Rain Forest and the west side of Olympic National Park we spent a night at Elwha campground before heading to a college friend’s in Poulsbo, WA. I had been looking at maps and had vaguely remembered seeing Mount Angeles on summitpost sometime in the past. As we got packed up, I convinced my wife that we should head over to Hurricane Ridge so I could tag the peak before moving on since it shouldn't take long. So off we go.
There was a sign at the trailhead for the switch backs to Klahhane Ridge that said there was a climbers trail to the summit. The sign said it was composed of loose rock and was recommended for experienced hikers. No problem. The sign didn’t say where this trail was, so I assumed it started at Klahhane Ridge. I drove over to the visitors center on Hurricane Ridge to use the facility and see if someone there could give me better information. I asked the man at the information desk inside the main door, since he had quite a few maps in front of him. I asked if the east ridge was the route, he shrugged and said sure. I could tell he wasn’t! As I walked back to my car I looked at the people and didn’t see any one who would seem to know. I don’t know what I was looking for in them, but most looked like regular tourist types.
We drove back to the trailhead and I told my wife I would be up and back in 3 hours. I headed up the trail and she and Niki headed back to the visitors center. Shortly up the trail there was a deer on the trail who looked rather annoyed that she had to move off the trail so I could pass. I passed a number of groups dragging up the many switch backs. It was quite warm on this south facing hill and there are not many trees. Soon I came to the trail junction where I have since learned I should have turned left. But since it said Hurricane Ridge, I turned right toward Klahhane Ridge. In just a bit longer I reached Klahhane Ridge and took a short break and soaked in the nice views of Mount Olympus to the southwest, Mount Baker to the northeast and Sequim, Port Angeles and the Strait of Juan de Fuca below to the north.
I eyed the ridge headed up toward the summit and there looked to be a bit of exposure, but I started up. Soon I could find no obvious route and headed back to the main trail. As I surveyed the area I figured the way must be up the north ridge. All the people I met and asked about the summit were hikers and thought I was nuts for trying for the summit. So I headed down the trail and followed it to a saddle on the north ridge of Mount Angeles. There was a couple having a bite to eat. I nodded to them and they gave me a he’s crazy look as I headed up the north ridge. It involved mostly class 3 scrambling. After a bit I reached a large rock I couldn’t find a comfortable way around. I down climbed to the west to a sandy hill side. I scanned the hill, looked at my watch, and realized I wasn’t going to make the summit from this side of the mountain in the time limit I had given myself and started to move back toward the saddle. The sand and scree was miserable so I found another route back up to the ridge. It was a short class 4 to easy 5. Just be careful if you are up here as the rock is rotten and I had a couple of adrenaline jolts as a couple of hold came off as I pulled on them. I soon gained the ridge again and scrambled back down to the trail. I got back to the trailhead and my family 10 minutes longer than the 3 hours I had said.
We drove on to my friend’s in Poulsbo. Later that evening I checked summitpost and almost beat my head on the desk when I read about Mount Angeles. ARRRGH!! I will certainly be back as I can’t let this one just go.