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Pot Peak
posted by John : July 27, 2010

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Sunrise means it's too early

After my glorious day north of Chelan I was itching for another trip. Looking at the maps and consulting with Nicole I figured I could get up Pot Peak and back before 10am, which was when the water park opened anyway. So I packed my bag, filled my bottles, and set an early alarm.

The Pot Peak trailhead is just a few miles up Twenty-five Mile Creek and only about 40 minutes from the house so it seemed a good fit for a quick hit. Sadly, there was no coffee on the way and I couldn't find our hosts' commuter mugs so I was caffeine free. Strike one.

At the trailhead I saw a sign that said the trail was open to motorcycles. Strike two.

Nonetheless, I started up the trail. It's steep at first, with cinder blocks turned on end and buried in the tread to prevent the bikes from tearing it up too much. The switchbacks are gentle and banked to help prevent them from having to slow down. Gee... this is sounding great.

Already it was warm and dry and dusty. The summit wasn't even as high as the trailhead for Summer Blossom so there was no relief in sight. Long traverses extended the joy beyond the 3,000 feet of gain I had plotted. I saw two deer, but they didn't really make up for the lack of flowers (except fireweed) or the thought that at any moment I'd be choking in the dust and exhaust of a motorcycle flying up from behind me.

The area is recovering from a fire so sections are full of burned snags. The contrasts between the pink fireweed and blackened trees was pretty neat so let's call that "ball one."

At the false summit there was a neat little pile of rocks that was somewhat picturesque. It would have made for a decent summit on its own, but of course since it wasn't the destination I didn't stop. Still... ball two.

Dropping to the saddle between the false and true summits the plants grew closer to the trail and it felt more like a hiker's trail. Berries were just starting to show. My time was running short so I was moving fast. Ball three.

The trail doesn't actually go to the summit. It wraps around and continues on. I found a spot and headed up. The ground was soft with ash from the fire so I postholed almost to the tops of my boots. (Yeah, I know, not really "postholing," but you get the idea.) Ahead I could see sky so the summit was close. Wait, where was the summit. Is this it? This rounded blob of burned out trees with no views of value? Strike three. I'm out. Time to go home.

And quickly. I was 15 minutes past my estimate for getting to the top so I had to make up at least that much on the way down. Once I was back on the trail I did a sort of loping jog that had my pack and gear bouncing all over. Where the bikes could scream around corners I had to slow because the cinder blocks made little toe-traps that threatened to send me to the showers early.

The good news is I never did take a spill and I made up the time and got back to the house a little before 10am. I got my workout and passed 11,000 feet since vacation started (even if one of those trips was just Mailbox) and pretty much answered the question of where my next Chelan trips would be: Back up the Grade Creek Road and definitely not up Twenty-five Mile Creek.

Totals: Eight miles and 3,300 feet of gain.

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