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Cave Ridge, Phonebooth Peak, Guye Peak
posted by John : September 5, 2010


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The wet, wet Commonwealth Basin


It's dark. The wind is blowing and the rain is falling. And nobody wants to go hiking. I'm standing at the coffee maker trying to get into the idea myself. Of course, I can't not go. Not after I tried my best to convince and cajole and otherwise harass my friends into going. Well, crap.

It was barely light when I left the trailhead at Snoqualmie Pass. TNAB was tagging Cave Ridge later in the week, but I couldn't go. Since I'd only seen Cave Ridge in the snow and it was usually dark I figured I'd give it a shot in the non-snowy daylight. Sure, it'd rain, but rain's just rain. It's not like it was going to snow or anything. Not in early September.

Coming in from the Commonwealth Basin meant I'd be wet as soon as I left the car even with clear skies thanks to the heavily overgrown trail. The creek crossing wasn't anything and the berries were just right in the basin. For the first time I was able to follow the trail all the way to the saddle with no confusion. I guess practice does make perfect.

From the saddle I was even able to figure out which of the various bootpaths led to the summit. It bobs and weaves past caves and depressions with spurs taking off all over the place. A cartographer would either love it or go crazy. I poked my head into each potential cave, but never found one other than the well-known opening just below the summit. Being alone I again opted to stay outside with good footing. (Who says I take too many risks?)

At the summit it started to rain hard. Big heavy drops that floated down lazily and deadened sound. Sounds a bit too wintery and perhaps it was. What is it with me and Cave Ridge and snow? Next year I'm going up there when there are blue skies and no clouds and warm temperatures. Bah! (Yes, I love you, snow. But couldn't we have a more scheduled affair? Perhaps something like October to March?)

With snow in the air making pictures more difficult I scanned around for something interesting to take a picture of... is that a phone booth? Really? I thought that was a Photoshop job! Well, clearly I couldn't just look from afar. Down from the summit on another of those bootpaths, over another hump, down a rocky slope to a tarn. Pretty little tarn even with the now fully liquid precip. A nice ramp delivered me right to the phone booth. Yup. There it was. Nope. No dial tone. (Of course, I checked.)

It's an art installation, naturally. It's about the contradictions inherent in exploring the wilderness. Does man defile the wilderness he seeks to preserve by trampling heather and breathing the air? Beats me, but they have some thoughts.

Back down the ramp, past the tarn, up to Cave Ridge (a second summit, does that really count?) and then back toward the saddle. I peeked at another couple of possible caves, but no joy. I was sorely tempted to follow a trail down to a gully that I just knew held a cave and was really pretty, too, but it would mean a bundle more gain to get back so I deferred it for a later trip.

At the saddle I checked the time and bounded up to the first summit of Guye Peak. I was going to miss that TNAB, too, and figured I'd at least get the first of the three summits even if the second two (including the true summit) were a bit too dicey for the conditions and solitude. I ran into the only person I saw on the entire trip other than in the parking lot on Guye. He was new and was looking for the scramble route. I pointed it out, the likelihood of certain death, then left him to make his own choices. The trail out traverses more or less under Guye Peak so if he'd fallen I'd probably have heard him. Hurray for either good climbing, good decisions, or a quiet death.

I was dripping wet, but buzzing from an early morning hike when I got back to the trailhead. Nothing like a quick 6.1 miles and 3,200 feet of gain to get you going.

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