Excitement of the Anticipation
Lost Peak in the heart of Olympic National Park was my goal for the summer of 2006, not so much because it was any great climbing challenge, but because it looked beautiful. We all climb for different personal reasons. From some it's just to bag a peak, or because it's tall, or technically challenging. My reason for climbing a peak is because it's beautiful and a chance to see other beautiful country from that peak's perspective. I love exploring the whole mountain. I also climb because I'm trying to conquer my fear of heights, and every peak I bag gives me that much more confidence to face a more challenging task. I worked out about a 70 mile backpack trip with my hiking partners, David and Audra Poor, in which we would head up the Dosewallips River, down the Gray Wolf River, up Cameron Creek and back down the Dosewallips River for a nice loop. I planned to do side trips near Gray Wolf Pass, Hayden Pass and up Sentinel Peak along the way. But my whole goal was to get to Lost Peak. It's a rather mysterious looking summit, out in the middle of nowhere. When approaching it from Cameron Pass it's about the only peak visible (except for a shoulder on Fromme and Claywood to the west) until reaching Lost Pass. It towers ominously, over 1200 feet above the Lost Basin, giving a feeling of being close to a giant, when it's really subtly gentle.
On August 14, 3 days into our 5 day trip, we woke up at a beautiful campsite along Cameron Creek and headed up towards the Cameron Basin. It was the perfect day in the morning, with no clouds in sight. That was, until about 10:30, two hours into our day, we begin to see a major weather system moving in from the west. Fearing that rain might hit later that day, I left my friends behind and sped on ahead to the Cameron Basin, 4,000 feet of elevation gain ahead. Cameron Basin is utterly stunning! Rugged ridges dominate the skyline on all sides with jagged Head Cameron on the Mount Cameron Massif dominating the southern end of the Basin. I stopped to gorge upon God's wonderful supply of mountain blueberries and to rest my legs before heading up Cameron Basin. My friends, David and Audra, arrived an hour later and decided not to join me on my expidition up Lost Peak. So I agreed to meet them at the Dose Meadow's Campsite, about one and a half miles from Lost Peak. I said farewell to my friends about 3:30 with my eyes on the sky. More and more clouds began to form near Cameron Pass where I was headed. I just hoped that they wouldn't bring rain before I summited Lost Peak. On my way up the Pass I met a ranger who told me there was a chance of rain but that it was still clear to the east from Cameron Pass. I set out with new energy.
At 6,450 feet, Cameron Pass is the highest pass in the Olympics served by a trail. This may not seem like much except I started the day out at 1,500 feet along Cameron Creek and had already gained a mile in vertical elevation, considering up and down terrain, just to reach that point. I was sweating horribly by the time I reached Cameron Pass, but WOWEE! The view was so stunning I just sat down automatically in awe to take in the amazing Olympic view. Stretched out before me was a splenderous sea of mountains as far as I could see. Looking back down into the Cameron Basin I beheld the ghostly form of Mt Baker on the northern horizon. To the southeast I could make out Mt Rainier. But for the moment all the Olympic granduer was amazing and worthy of a long moment of silence. Waking out of my dream I walked down the ridge a bit for my first glimpse ever from the north of my goal. Lost Peak was there, and amazingly, though most of the other Olympic peaks were darkened by the approaching clouds, Lost Peak was lit up by the suns rays as if calling me. Two Snickers later and after a prayer to God for strength (trust me, it helps when you have fear) I pulled my pack on and headed down towards the Lost Basin.
Making a Dream a RealityNervous with excited anticipation I approached the Lost Basin. Bisected with meadows of American Bistort, Paintbrush, Lupine and multiple nameless streams, the Lost Basin runoff feeds the Lost River which drains into the Elwah River and eventually north into the Strait of Jaun De Fuca. Upon rounding the dispersed Sub-Alpine Fir and Alaska Cedar stands in the Basin I finally had my first clear view of my desire of the summer. Lost Peak, surrounded by shadows, stood bright and inviting before me with steep cliffs falling down it's northern face. Massive clouds of silver gray made an impressive backdrop behind it, while a faint touch of blue sky to the east offered a bit of hope. I snapped several shots with my Olympus camera, borrowed from my sister (My Nikon had met a disastrous end on the west side of Mount Stone as it fell down a cliff and under a massive snowfield). Pushing myself hard I began my ascent up towards Lost Pass, about two hundred feet above Lost Basin. The summit of Lost Peak appeared angry against the darkened sky, but peace from God pervaded my soul.
Upon reaching the pass I sorted out the essential gear I'd need for the climb and stashed my other gear in some tree's. Big fat juicy blueberries were all over the place up there! I grabbed a quick mouthful before putting on my day pack and began my ascent. From Lost Pass it's almost a thousand feet to the summit, bringing my elevation gain for the day just over 6,200 feet. I'll admit I was pretty tired. But when one has a dream and a passion they don't let anything stop them. Downing another Snickers bar I headed up the easy west slopes of Lost Peak, the summit hidden beyond the ridge to the northeast. It was 5:55 in the early evening. Already warm light was bathing my ascent. The clouds which had gathered so threateningly two hours before had begun to break off, but just enough remained to add character to the scenery. I like that. Breathing harder as I neared the top of the ridge I paused for a rest. I snapped a quick shot of stunning Wellesley Peak (my new passion for next summer). That shaft of light across the summit gave it such a mysterious appeal. Gaining the top of the ridgeline I got my first view towards the summit of Lost Peak. Across and abovethe boulder strewn ridge was the tangled mass of Lost Peak's summit block. Looked at my watch. 6:20. The sky was clearing even more. Good signs. I could take my time, not worry about heights and just climb for fun without the rush. I worked my way across the ridge line. To the north I glanced over the edge. A jumble of rock from the cliffs on Lost Peak was gathered at the bottom of the precipice about 700 feet below. Working my way northeast along the ridge I was surprised to find a mini-basin on the south side of Lost Peak's summit. Scrambling down the loose talus about 100 feet into the basin I beheld a whole new aspect of Lost Peak. From meadowy slopes, rock tangled ridges to it's own mini-basin. Several lingering snowfields lined the lip of the basin and I noticed a handful of differing plant species clinging to life on the edge. American Bistort Wildflowers lined the edges and added their own beauty to the scene. Taking a long drink from my nalgene I stopped and planned my next step in my ascent of Lost Peak.
I finally decided upon heading up the far end of the mini-basin and then ascending up the loose talus slopes to the far ridge on the east side of the summit. From there I'd work my way west along the ridge and to the tangle of large steep boulders that made up the summit block. Spurred on with confidence, I headed across the basin. It took just a few minutes to scramble up the slopes to the far ridge. Upon reaching the crest I looked hesitantly over the side down into the heart of the Lost Basin. A sheer cliff fell nearly 900 feet off the ridge, ending up at two beautiful emerald colored lakes. Nameless obviously. I just called them the Lost Lakes. How original. Making my way west along the ridge I made it to the foot of the solid boulders that led to the summit. It looked like about a 40-50 foot ascent from the angle I was at. I found the boulders to be firm and reliable. Hoisting myself up the first several I stood on the side of the summit block. My goal for the summer was just feet away. I stil had peace in my heart. This was fun! I found the most awesome set of boulders with which I hoisted my self up between them to gain the point just below the summit. Hoisting my body up four feet of boulder, while grabbing a small Fir, I used what strength I had left from the day to crawl onto the summit block of Lost Peak.
Actually it's two summits, seperated by a thin shaft of vertical air that supplies an awesome view of one of the Lost Lakes. Pulling myself up onto my feet I began to glance around me at the awesomness of God's creation, but let out a yell of pumped completion (My hiking buddy David later said he heard that yell a mile away and thought I was giving the Marmots a bad time). I had achieved my summers dream and it felt good, oh so good! I'd never enjoyed a climb more, or had more fun on a summit then at Lost Peak. The view was tremendously tremendous! The Anderson Massif dominated the view to the south above Thousand Acre Meadow. Sentinel Peak stood just the west of it, adding it's own beauty. Wellesley Peak was just the first of impressive spires that led to the south and east. Piro's Spire, Diamond Mountain and Mt Stone added their regal summits to the view. Further east and to the north the Brothers, Mount Contance, Mount Mystery and the Needle's group hulked in the shadowy clouds of evening light. Looking west Mount's Claywood and Fromme were silhouetted against the setting sun and Mount Olympus, the king of the range lit up the lesser peaks with it's abundance of glacial ice. I stayed up there for a good 45 minutes, until about 8. It felt so good to accomplish a goal. It was the ultimate vacation...to kill myself all day and enjoy the benefits of a good days hard work on the summit of my dreams! God as was close up there and His creation never looked better.
Heading back down Lost Peak turned out to be way more eventful then the ascent, for I happened to run into two Black Bears consecutively. The first was on the meadowy slopes about a hundred feet off. After taking some shots and putting my camera away I descended maybe 20 feet and headed around a stand of Sub-Alpine Firs, only to find another hefty bear about 20 feet to my right! He snorted and stepped back, and I was equally surprised...setting my hand on my knife. But he was way more interested in Blueberries then in a hiker who hadn't showered in four days and was caked in several layers of sweat after the day's climbing. Wow, that was a great rush! Being so close to a bear. I'd never do that intentionally mind you, but since God saw fit to surprise me I enjoyed the moment with fearful awe. One last surprise for me was an Olympic Marmot. I was almost at Lost Pass when I noticed the little guy. He didn't budge. I noticed the sun setting behind him and saw a chance to get some once in a life time shots. He posed for me as I took six shots of him with the Bailey Range, Lost Pass and the setting sun as a backdrop. Totally awesome! Just a great end to an awesome day! ~Isaiah 53:13-"But the man who makes me his refuge will inherit the land and possess my Holy Mountain."