I took Duma for a leisurely Sunday afternoon jog to the top of Craggy Dome today. We started at the Greybeard Mtn. Overlook on the Parkway and from there headed East on the Mountains to Sea trail.
I was hoping to find the old trail #164 so when somewhere at or around Locust Ridge there was a faint trail off to the left blocked by a pile of sticks. The location was right so I figured it was worth a try and down we went. One hundred vertical feet later the trail faded away. No way but down from there and down we went back to the Parkway. Just on the other side of the road we once again found what looked like an old road and followed it. Just like the trail above this faint trace of a trail faded away and we began a serious bushwhack.
Have I mentioned the weather yet? Maybe I should, because it is important to the story, so let me just say that it was cold. Like very cold. A few weeks back when Yuri and I did the Crest was downright balmy compared to this.
So, there was that, and then this big bushwhack. I made it a point to pay attention and we nailed the difficult bushwhack and actually managed to make spectacular time down to FR74. From there it is straight back up the road and then the Douglas Falls #162 trail.
Douglas Falls was an ass kicker and quickly turned the run into a hike. A hike that seemed to go on forever. But it was a beautiful hike through some seldom traveled terrain. Down below 5000' in the Coleman Boundary the temperatures were almost bearable but as we started the ascent the cold moved in again and put us in a grid lock.
It took forever to get to the intersection with the Mountains to Sea. When we finally did we went left. Lots more walking. And then after forever we were spit out onto an asphalt road. That was not expected and for the first time of the day I pulled out the map. I feared we somehow went the wrong way on the MST and were at the Craggy Gardens Picnic Area but the map confirmed we were good and seconds later we were crossing the parkway and beginning the final 500' ascent to the top of Craggy Dome.
Being a SB6K peak there is a trail to the top but at times it was faint and near the top the rhododendron pushed the limits of my patience. In the end there might have been more walking than running but we persevered and finished the loop in three and a half hours.
Looking back at Craggy Dome as we started out on the MST:
In the middle of the bushwhack we came across this tree. A bear has been going to town on it for a long time.
The beauty of winter down on FR74:
The start of Douglas Falls trail. One of the last trails for me to explore in the area:
The trail went through a gorgeous stretch of old growth Hemlock and Oak forest. These trees need to be seen:
Further up the trail there was a nice stretch of frozen cascades:
At the top of Craggy Dome: