May 20, 2006

Mt Zion

I went hiking this morning with a group of Mountaineers hike leaders, organized by Eric as a way to get to know each other better and share ideas about leading hikes. Considered against that criterion, I’d call it a success. As a hike, it was also good, but there were no views at the top.

The hike is in the Olympic National Forest, in the northeast corner, east of Quilcene, about 85 road miles from the Forest headquarters in Olympia. It’s a short hike of about 1.8 miles and 1300’ gain to the top of a small peak with views all around. Mt. Zion hosted a fire lookout until 1975. I could only believe our leader when he said that there are views of the northern Cascades, Mt. Baker, the Straits, and Vancouver Island from the top. Today, there was nothing but clouds. Still, the air was still and it wasn’t cold, so we lingered on top for over an hour.

The wild rhododendrons were blooming extravagantly along the road, between the Big Quilcene bridge and Quilcene. Higher, at the trailhead and along the trail, there were numerous rhodies, but they were not yet blooming. We saw a lot of trillium, some tiny, yellow violets, a few Calypso orchids, and red gooseberries blooming. One chipmunk patrolled the summit at lunchtime.

The best part of the day was to hike with some of the best hikers I know. Usually, of course, we’re off leading our own hikes. We don’t very often get a chance to hike together. I think this kind of trip will help to make the hiking program stronger.

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