You've already heard the first installment of this tale when a friend and I escaped the gray, doom and gloom hanging over the coast and headed to the high country. We found snow on the roads, but not too much, and made it to the trail access to Mount Baldy.
We don't agree on too much but we were unanimous ... the trail to Baldy was horrible, tortuous and absolutely no fun at all.
All of this led us to seek the unmarked, undocumented and unmaintained trail to Tyler Peak. We knew that this trail existed because we each had talked to folks who had "done" it. After some bushwhacking and false starts, we found a likely trail.
On this day, our goal was to reach the mountain - not necessarily the summit - but to find the mountain. That might sound funny to many of you but it's hard to summit a mountain without knowing how to find the mountain.
If it never seems to make it into any trail guide to the Olympics, and folks only talk about it when asked, it becomes a goal. This is especially true when you can see it clearly from most
places around Sequim.
Like Blue Mountain, Mount Baldy, Mount Angles, Mount Townsend, Elk Mountain, Maiden Peak and others, seeing it makes it a possible destination.
On the way to the mountain, as we traversed Palo Alto Road we saw a herd of bull elk indulging in breakfast. We looked at each other and both felt that this was a favorable omen.
The path we discovered on our first trip here - still was here. We climbed up the flank of the mountain and encountered a fairy-tale woods. The trees were old and thick at the bottom but short and stubby. They were draped with mosses that made them look even more ancient.
The trees were far enough apart to make the passage through them easy, but the slope was steep. The path led eventually to a ridge that we climbed, higher and higher. The climb was made easier because, through the trees, we were rewarded with views of snow-capped peaks.
The ridge ended and we found ourselves walking horizontally through a younger, denser forest. In fact, there were places where the forest became so thick and dense that we felt that there was a solar eclipse going on over our heads. Despite the sweat covering my body or, because of it, the air got much colder.
Then, the trail began to get a little more vertical and, to our right, we caught glimpses of high rocks and blue sky not too far above us. Soon the trail broke into the open and, across a meadow, our mountain stood waiting for us.
We by now had expended most of our energy and needed whatever we had left for the trip back down. We'd summit the mountain another day - after all, it no longer could hide from us. We knew where to find it!
There was no doubt that we could have made it to the top, but why? A lot of our friends would never understand, but the summit was meant to be a magical experience. It was not just a place to fall exhausted into a heap and to sit and wonder if it were possible to get back to the car.
A mountain top is sacred. It deserves to be approached with love and pleasant anticipation.
Besides, I'm a little older now than when I reached the summit of Mount Baldy. The climb to Baldy is way too long and too difficult to enjoy. From the top of Tyler Peak, it is an easy walk over to Baldy, if I chose to do that. I really found Baldy a disappointment. The payoff for the trek was not worth the effort.
I already know that the trek up to Tyler is itself satisfying and a thing worth doing.
And, as an older guy, my "Bucket List" (things to do before I kick the bucket) is pretty short. Most, in fact, begin with, "I'd like to go back to ...."
So, how long does it take a man to sit and chat with God on a mountaintop?
I suspect it depends on the man or woman doing the sitting and whether he or she is talking or listening.
Richard Olmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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