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Trip Report: Sourdough Mountain

Oooaf…we had one challenging hike yesterday in the North Cascades, one I am none too close to repeating for awhile.  Sunday morning we set out of Seattle early heading north on I-5 to climb Sourdough Mountain, one Bryan has done once before.  We woke up at 6am, left the house at 7am, and made a pit stop in Arlington, WA for a big breakfast at Ellie’s to fuel up for the hike.  We SHARED the Paul Bunyan breakfast and still didn’t finish it all; three scrambled eggs, several slices of bacon, pork sausage, hashbrowns, two large blueberry pancakes and toast was too much for us but did the job and certainly didn’t break the bank.

Oh yes, there was a fourth plate to all of this food.
Oh yes, there was a fourth plate to all of this food.

The 2.5 hour drive went very smoothly and we arrived at the trailhead at 10:30am.  We laced up our hiking boots, used the restroom and just before we were ready to head out a hazard alarm goes off (probably only from 100′ away from us it was startlingly loud) which for some reason gets Bryan to head for the trailhead requiring me to follow.  Our best guess is that the alarm was for the forest fire that we later could see from atop the mountain a good distance away from us but at the time Bryan thought the nearby dam was breaking and thus took cover by fleeing up the mountain.  Anyways, back to the trail.  This hike is a steady incline all the way up and that is 5100′ up, a vertical distance I have never covered in one day.  The first two miles are pretty darn steep and really get you up aways in a short amount of time.  Thankfully the forest is dense in this part so with the 95 degree expected temperatures we were in the shade.

So glad to see the lookout.
So glad to see the lookout.

Bryan was really feeling off his game the whole way up and it was very noticeable.  We hiked up the slowest we ever had.  I was feeling pretty good on the way up and after about 4 miles we were in the clear allowing sweeping views of the neighboring mountains past the awesomely turquoise Diablo Lake below.  This was really when Bryan’s fatigue set in and though I was requesting us to turn around he said he could get to the top so we pushed on.  It was a slow last 1.5 miles up with 1000′ vertical to go and we were now in full sunlight without any breaks of shade.  We got to the ridge for the last 1/4 mile hike to the lookout.  We both immediately found shade and refueled on pb&j sandwiches, beef jerky, and fresh plums and cherries.  Bryan found the jerky to be the recovery he needed: salt that is.  We started feeling much better which really relieved me for our journey down.  I walked around the lookout to take in the 360 degree views and snap some photos with Bryan’s camera.  After just short of an hour break we started to make our way back down, this time going much faster with Bryan’s new-found energy, much to my relief.

Beautiful
Beautiful
Beautiful
Beautiful
Beautiful
Beautiful
Dead
Dead

The journey down was LONG!  I knew it would be at 5.5 miles and 5100 feet.  My problem knee really started feeling the pain with all of the downhill and in general my legs really started feeling the hike.  We took only one short break to finish the water that we packed but otherwise we pushed on.  It took us 4.5 hours to hike up and only 2.5 hours to hike down, which really speaks to how much faster we were going to get back to the car.  We finally hit pavement at 7pm and immediately took off the boots to soak our feet in the icy cold Skagit River and Bryan used his filter system to get us some cold water to drink.  After washing up a bit and getting a lot of water we were recovered enough to start the drive back to Seattle.

The whole shebang!
The whole shebang!

It was a beautiful drive back with the sun slowly setting beyond the mountaintops.  We both enjoyed driving through Oso on the way there and back as we had never been before and had never seen the landslide effects.  We made good time and got back to Seattle at 9:30 pm where we had called in a Thai takeout order of two pad kee maos with chicken, two stars, one with extra broccoli 🙂 before heading home to shower and inhale food.  Our bodies ached but felt much rejuvenated with the showers, but in the end still hating us for what we had put them through.

Much glad to be back in Seattle where I can heal my blisters, recover from soreness and rehydrate…but still beautiful trip in the mountains.

Chelsea

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