Destination: 48.5197, -120.8035 (WGS84)
Total miles: 16 (approx)
Beers at altitude: Two Beers Evo IPA
The plans for this weekend had been in the works for months. And by plans I mean a vague conception of what we were doing and where we were going to do it. This was a surprise trip for The Girl and I put much more forethought into planning for her escape than I put into the trip itself, but we both took the time and ended up seeing some rad things.
The summit of Black Peak in the North Cascades was our destination goal. We started at the trailhead at around 9:30 am on Saturday. A morning coffee and “cinnamon twisp” in Twisp, WA was necessary. This was vacation, after all. Geared up with with our most certainly overweight backpacks, we hit the trail.
More significantly, I’m wearing boots. A very nice pair of appropriately-sized Asolo’s mind you, but boots. This is significant only because I’m a Chacos guy. I live in the things and have done so for the past 15 years ever since I first tried a pair owned by an insistent climbing buddy who proselytized about their comfort and utility. Over the years I’ve hiked more miles in Chacos than most people had hiked, period.
Back in 2005 my friend Rhino and I had our car broken into in our Flagstaff, AZ motel parking lot the night before a big Grand Canyon backpacking excursion. Luckily our packs were with us in our rooms, but we lots iPods, trekking poles, cameras, and my hiking shoes. No problem, I had Chacos on my feet and hiked the 30+ miles down and up the canyon in them, no problem.
But now I’m wearing off-trail and peak-scrambling appropriate boots and probably worse yet, a pair of old hiking socks that I un-thoughtfully grabbed out of my sock drawer that had a less-than soft interior. Somewhere around mile three I recognized that hot spot feeling on my heels…but we only had two miles left of the approach hike to basecamp. There I would address the issue.
About three miles and 2000 ft of elevation gain later, I knew we had missed a turn. Backtracking (and descending) to our climber’s trail we finally were on point and facing the last few miles of primarily cross-country boulder hopping upwards another 3000 feet. At this point, my heel blisters were full-blown flappers and the pain was intense. Fucking intense. Every step was awful at now not only were my heels on fire, but there was something not right with my left big toe.
Finally, after some struggle and cursing, we made it to Wing Lake at base of Black Peak. The view was awesome in the true sense of the word. There wouldn’t be a summit this weekend due to lack of time and injury, but it was well worth it.