At the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time: A Misfortune on Zekes

Page Type
Trip Report
Washington, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Apr 8, 2011
Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling
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At the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time: A Misfortune on Zekes
Created On: May 1, 2011
Last Edited On: Dec 24, 2014


"No Good Deed goes Unpunished!"

"If you're playing a poker game and you look around the table and and can't tell who the sucker is, it's you." - Paul Newman

This is the sequel to Getting Let Down on Mount Zekes which were only 3 of the attempts. In total now I have 5 attempts with no luck for the summit. But this time it became a misfortune...

Mount Zekes Panorama
Mount Zeke's Panorama

Part 4: Giving Another Try

Through out my Spring Break the weather had be relatively crummy which my plans for climbing Mount Baker fell apart. With the same partner I planned climb Baker I figure it would be a good day to try out Mount Zekes again. We got up fairly early and drove to the trailhead. "I think I got it this time" I excitedly told Lance as we put on our backpacks. There was fresh snow all over, but we could tell it was rapidly melting.

Water Reflection from the Trailhead
Trailhead Reflection

Fog over the Mountain
Fog over the Mountain

Once again I found myself traveling along the familiar road that leads up to May Creek. Once we got to May Creek the water was rushing more than I had anticipated. When traveling across I was having a bit of difficulties, I would end up having to do maneuvers to get by, until Lance decided that the log would be best. He threw his pack across just fine, and then he took a moment to build up the courage to take a big leap across. Then I threw my pack to him, and it was my turn to jump across. After this we continued walking down the road.

Rushing Water
Rushing Water

Lance Getting Ready to Jump Across
Getting Ready to Jump

Going up the road we were making very good time which in every step I felt more and more sure that we would make it this time. After many miles of road travel we then left the road and ended up at the creek bed. From here there was about a half hour or so of bushy traveling as well as many fallen over trees which makes progress a bit slower. I had actually forgotten how messy the woods were, but we manged fine. Then we came upon the up slope which nice views of Mount Index and Persis came about.

Mount Persis Clearing Up
Mount Persis Clearing Up

Finally a  Pathway
Finally a "Pathway"

Snow Lumps in Creek Bed
Snow Lumps

Messy Terrain
Messy Terrain
Icicles Hanging Down
Icicles Hanging Down

Lance and I took turns breaking trail by this point which as before we traveled around the edge of the mountain to the gully. Lance had forgot to bring snowshoes, so at about 2,000 feet I put mine on and broke trail. The snow conditions were significantly better than the last time I was there. Although Lance became a bit tired when going up, he had me check the time which it was 12:03 p.m. A few minutes later he announced that he had somewhere to be later that day and that he should turn around. Lance then said "But you should go for the summit...". I looked up the mountain and then back at him and said "I can't do that" and explained to him the Palmer Mountain Incident. He then still insisted that I continue but I told him it would not feel right, we were fairly close to the summit but I figured that I could return another time. So we then we started heading down.

Heading up the Snow Covered Boulders
Heading up the Snow Covered Boulders
Vertical Mountain View
Verticle View

We got some minor glissades down the gulley and went all the way to the valley floor. This was somewhat of a bad spot because now we had to travel through more bushy terrain as well as more fallen over trees. After this then we speedily walked back. At the creek crossing I could not find a good spot so I walked through where we leaded which ended up soaking my boots. After this the rest of the walk back was uneventful. Then Lance brought me back home.

Part 5: When Things Go Wrong

At home I then decided that the next day I should remake an attempt for Zekes, after all the trail was already broken. Once again it would be a solo trip which I got up at 6 a.m. I rushed out the door to catch the bus only to miss it by a few seconds. So then I went back home to have breakfast and a hour later went to go catch the next bus. I then figured "I am almost certain that I will succeed this time, I mean whats the worst that could happen?".

Mount Stickney Close Up
Mount Stickney Up Close

After transferring onto another bus what I love about traveling by non car is the people you meet along the way and you end up getting good conversations. In Gold Bar I get out which now it was a bright sunny day with clouds coming off of the mountains. While biking along highway 2 I smiled towards Mount Zekes as well as the other peaks around thinking "oh what good views I'll have today". I arrived at the trail head at 9:48 a.m. and this time was able to bike along the road. Biking later on became difficult due to the large puddles and fallen brush. I then ditched by bike and dashed on over to May creek.

Mount Zekes from the Trailhead
Mount Zekes from the Trailhead

Philadelphia Mountain Clearing Up
Philadelphia Mountain Clearing Up

Mount Index Clearing up through the Clouds
Mount Index Clearing up through the Clouds

At May creek it was at least as bad as the day before which I took a few photos and put my camera inside the case inside my backpack. I was at the part where I would have to throw it across, which I considered throwing my camera separately but then figured it would be bad for it. I spent at least 5 minutes trying to figure out exactly where I would throw my pack, I was very worried that it would land in the creek. "Sheesh there are no good places to throw it" which I had throw attempts where I would almost throw it but be too worried about it landing in. It did cross my mind that if I mess up that it could have serious impacts on not only the trip but my equipment. I considered just running through but I knew that would get my boots soaked.

Just Before May Creek
Just Before May Creek

The Log Crossing
The Log Crossing

The Last Photo
The Last Photograph
Tree Reflection
Tree Reflection

I then made up my mind to throw it across which it made a good distance well over enough, when it landed it bounced which because it was on a some what sloped bank it rolled downwards and then quickly fell into the creek. "Dang it!" I yelled as I jumped into the creek almost waist deep. The pack caught onto something for a second which got me excited, but then it kept floating away. I ran full speed until I finally got it and threw it onto the other shore. It total it was probably only in the water for 45-60 seconds. By now I was soaked, which I walked to a flat area to take out all my gear.

From here I spent about 2 hours squeezing out as much water as I could and using the sun to dry things out. I opened up all the panels in the camera which I could see fog in the lens as well as the viewer screen. I knew this was bad. I thought about continuing despite being wet and such, but then figured it would be bad form because I had no line of retreat. I was solo, I would have no jacket (well I suppose I could use my wet shell) and very little to have on the mountain. Plus I would have no photos, so I decided once I got everything as dry as possible I would go back home. After taking a long time to pack everything I walked across the creek getting my boots wet again and biked back to town. Then took the bus back home...

After opening up all the panels and letting it air out over a vent and putting it in a bowl of rice the camera still did not work. I took it apart recently and found a very small broken piece and slight corrosion damage to one of the main chips. To me this was very sad because it was the most valuable thing that I own. I was mad because when doing the right thing by turning around I ended up with this situation. A friend of mine once told me "Even in failure I win". For me it was more or less the opposite "Even in Victory I fail". Photography will never be the same for a while, and it made things a bit harder for photography class.

I'll spare the details but I went through a lot following this event and now am stronger. Things now are getting better for me, but I still miss my camera. At least now I know what not to do.


Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-7 of 7

mvs - May 2, 2011 10:12 am - Voted 10/10

Unique stuff!

Josh your photos are beautiful and you go out to climb things that aren't often visited. Keep it up, really nice!

Josh Lewis

Josh Lewis - May 6, 2011 12:13 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Unique stuff!

Thanks Michael. Going somewhere new these days is important to me, after all I always tell myself "A Fork in the Road... I choose the Road Less Traveled by, it has made all the difference" -Robert Frost. Also glad you liked the photos, at first I had worried about memory card damage from the water.


silversummit - May 2, 2011 7:08 pm - Voted 10/10

What a story!

Sorry about your camera! I know how you feel! Your pictures and reports are great!

Josh Lewis

Josh Lewis - May 6, 2011 12:15 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: What a story!

Thanks Silversummit! I know most people would say "It's just a camera" but not only was it the most expensive thing I owned, but was my favorite piece of equipment. I got a super deal for a new camera which now I'm saving up for.


EastKing - May 5, 2011 11:01 pm - Voted 10/10

Nice TR!

Maybe we will get back there and summit this peak. Pictures as always AMAZING!!

Josh Lewis

Josh Lewis - May 6, 2011 12:20 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Nice TR!

Thanks Greg, it's certainly a tough peak! Never had I so many attempts on a single peak without making the summit. I'll admit some times if you really want something, you gotta keep going at it. And unfortunately sometimes its not meant to be.


nartreb - May 7, 2011 12:24 pm - Hasn't voted

"I can't do that'

That was the best line in the report. Fate usually demands a sacrifice when we stick up for our friends, this time it was both your summit chance and your camera. There will be other cameras and other attempts, but partners who look out for each other are much harder to replace.

Viewing: 1-7 of 7

At the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time: A Misfortune on Zekes

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