Month: April 2012

Quilcene Burger Loop

Great rides often start with unusual inspiration. On Sunday, the words “feel like a Quilcene burger?” sent David, Robert, Nick and me on a super fun loop around Hood Canal on our motorcycles. Lunch – and the Quilcene burger in question – was at the Tuana Roadhouse Cafe, where the kitchen looks like your mom’s house and the fries are baked. The Cafe also has a large selection of salads and had no problem whipping up an “everything salad” for Nick and me – as in put every vegetable you have in the kitchen on a plate! Delish!

Our route, in case you’re interested in a repeat:

Quartz Mountain

One finger on the summit of Quartz Mountain

One of the great things about living in this area is the endless number of peaks to climb. I think I could go my whole life climbing a different peak each weekend and never have to repeat one. In the spirit of climbing something new, I joined a large group of Mountaineers on Saturday to add another notch to my belt – Quartz Peak.

We drove to North Bend and headed out the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Road to an overgrown logging road. (It was so overgrown, actually, that only a GPS waypoint gave us a clue that it was there.) After the usual introductions, we were off.

We followed the logging road about a half mile to a non-distinct point just past the junction with the CCC trail, but before a really nice looking bridge over a creek. (If I did this again, I think I’d just take the CCC trail and avoid the overgrown road.) Thinking the brush looked about as good as anything, we headed more or less uphill to about 2200’ on the ridge leading to Quartz Lake. The brush was minimal for second-growth forest, so the going was fairly easy.

We continued straight up the ridge, donning snowshoes at about 3000’.

At 3400’ we encountered a big rocky outcropping. To pass it, we dropped about 25’ to the right of it and traversed about 50’ to a steep snow chute back up to the ridge. We stuck with the ridge until about 3600’ at which point we traversed to the saddle and lake between Quartz and Bessequartz. (Who names these peaks anyway?)

The flattest spot by far on our traverse

Along the way, we were treated to peek-a-boo views of the surrounding area.

McClellan Butte




No passable road goes there anymore

At the lake, we had a quick snack before making the final push up Quartz.

At the summit, we each took turns snapping a summit picture and settled in for afternoon tea. The summit was mostly treed, so our views were limited. There was a nice view of the seldom-climbed Bessemer.

The descent was unremarkable, albeit a bit slow owing to the conditions and size of our group. Before we knew it, we were back at the cars dreaming of a delicious dinner at the Riverbend Café.

Big thanks to Richard and Lynn for organizing such a great climb! To John for his navigation skills on the descent, and to David, John, Mike and all the rest for their step-kicking skills.

Getting There: Take exit 34 off I-90 and turn left under the freeway. Turn right on the SE Middle Fork Road. Continue on FS 5600 to a spot about 5 miles after the bridge over the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and about ½ mile past the CCC trailhead. Look left; there will be an overgrown road in there somewhere!


Round Trip: 6 miles
Elevation Gain: 3850’
Highest Point: ~4650’

TH to Summit: 5 hours
Summit to TH: 4 ¼ hours

Hellfire or Salvation

Some people call the peak Hellfire. Others call it Salvation. Either name pays homage to the closest neighboring peak Damnation. The sweet views from the ridge approaching the summit would make angels sing, but the fiery burning in my legs from the effort required to get there has me leaning towards calling the peak Hellfire.

Last week, Lisa convinced a fabulous group of folks – Fay, Jim, Eileen, Paul, Bill, and me – that this would be a worthy destination for a sunny Saturday. We met up early in the morning in Kirkland and headed for the North Cascades. The snow had melted out enough that we could drive Bacon Creek Road all the way to the junction just before the bridge across Bacon Creek (elev. 820’). We took the middle, most overgrown, spur road about a half mile before heading more or less straight up the hill in mossy woods.

The first obstacle - crossing Jumbo Creek

The terrain was quite open despite it being second-growth forest.

We're still smiling as we ascend our mossy carpet in the forest

It was warm, and the trees spit ice chunks and snow melt on us until we reached snow at about 2600’. Only a short 500’ later snowshoes became necessary. One of our party members – Paul – didn’t get the memo about bringing them unfortunately, and he was forced to suffer, plunging up to his knees with every step. His progress was so slow compared to the rest of the group that we didn’t think he’d be able to ascend much farther. Lisa rescued him – giving him her snowshoes and taking over plunge stepping duties, albeit slightly less because she weighs less than Paul.

We continued uphill to the notch between Oakes and Hellfire (elev. 4800’). The ascent is steep and relentless with nothing but trees to keep you entertained. Once we were at the notch, however, the pain in our thighs subsided as we got our first views of the surrounding area.

Diosbud Butte, Logger Butte, and Electric Butte


Damnation Peak

Lisa and Paul opted to rest at the saddle after their arduous ascent, while the rest of us walked along the open up-down ridge for a mile to the summit of Hellfire (elev. 5563’)

The ridge leading to Hellfire Peak (left most bump in the distance)


Making our way along the ridge...almost there!


The final approach to the summit


Despair & Triumph (with a bunch of Pickets in the background)

An icy wind drove us off the summit to a sheltered spot behind some trees where we enjoyed afternoon tea. At a quarter to five, we knew we better start heading down, lest we have to do too much of the descent in the dark.

The ups and downs on the ridge back to the saddle were nothing short of torture. Even after our break, I had nothing left in the tank. I followed closely behind Fay, thinking that if she keeps putting one foot in front of the other, so can I.

Looking back toward Oakes and all the uphill we have to climb to get to the saddle

We took our snowshoes off just below the ridge to make descending the steep forest slopes a little easier. What followed was a comical amount of postholing and the accompanying whoops each time the snow collapsed under our feet. Each of us must have ended up hip-deep two or three times.

We were off the snow and back into soft mossy forest by the time the sun set. We only had to descend the last 1000’ or so by headlamp, which is not too bad considering the late start that morning.

Huge thanks go out to Lisa for organizing such a great trip, to Bill for his crack navigation skills in the dark forest on our descent; to Fay for being my inspiration to keep going when I was SO tired; to Paul for his entertaining motorcycle stories; and to Jim and Eileen for their awesome company.

Getting there: Drive Hwy 20 past Marblemount to Bacon Creek Road (just shy of MP 111). Turn north on Bacon Creek Road and continue about six miles to the road junction just before the bridge over Bacon Creek. Approx. 2 ½ hours from Kirkland.


Round trip: 7 miles
Elevation gain: 5600’
Highest Point: 5563’

TH to Summit: 6 ¼ hours
Summit to TH: 4 ¼ hours


Our nephew Mason turns two tomorrow and is finally getting to that age where it’s fun to interact with him. On Sunday, he entertained himself by pouring water off my parents balcony onto the patio below. I think he would have made the water go “sploosh” until bedtime if we’d let him.

Quick visit to Granite Falls

Dave, David, Nick, my dad, and I took a quick moto tour to Granite Falls today. After a stop to look at the river, we went in search of refreshments. Iced tea and pie at Ike’s tasted fantastic. Then we finished our tour of Snohomish County backroads. A fanatic way to spend Easter Sunday, if you ask me.