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McClellan Butte
posted by John : July 8, 2010

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Hot as that

You know it's going to be a hot day when even the perpetually cold office can't keep up with the solar radiation streaming through the windows. And, of course, everyone inside is so starved for Vitamin D that we keep the shades up even if it means squinting at our computers. So by the time I'm ready to head home my eyes hurt and I'm already suffering from heat stroke.

At the trailhead it isn't much better. Better than a mile before the trailhead, though. That's where I ran into Jeremy and Tisha and an overheating car. They pulled it off to the side, transferred everything into my trunk, and we got to the trail without breaking too much of a sweat. Nobody else was around so we started up.

I wound up hiking by myself for much of the way. Well... me and the mosquitos. Little biting buggers. They only left when they were driven off by the biting black flies. Lovely.

The first snow was in the chutes, of course. I kicked some of the near-ice into slush and put it in my hat. Sweet relief. Until the brain freeze. Still, as it melted on my hot head it rained sweat and DEET into my eyes. If only I had goggles, but then they probably would have done nothing.

I caught a couple of TNAB hikers at the shoulder where you either turn left for Mt. Kent or circle around the end of McClellan and start a long traverse on the west side. Not wanting to tempt the watershed gods today, I opted to stay on the trail and found it covered with snow. More chilled head. More brain freeze. When I arrived at the summit scramble I could see Don looking down. When I passed him he was concerned for my health and well being given the amount of water running down my face.

On top the light breeze kept the bugs at bay and the clear skies kept the shutters clicking. The rest of the crew showed up in time for a pic and then a retreat. The scramble down is one of my least favorite and I took my time. Probably just prolonging the least favoriteness.

I tried to wait for the others, honest, but the bugs drove me away. Even my beloved DEET (of which I am now composed 2% of by volume) had little effect. The faster I went the fewer I noticed. I could hear the others behind me, but slowing meant biting and so I continued. Eventually, Scott caught me while I was shooting pictures of flowers and we raced to the trailhead together. (He was crazy enough to have started at the bottom while I drove to the cheater trailhead a few hundred feet higher. Sucker!)

When we had recovered everyone we headed back and eventually to the Pour House where I got a sweet treat for my good samaritanism before calling it quits so I could function at work the next day.

Total distance was something like 7.1 miles and 3,100 feet of gain. I didn't count the bugs.

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