Intro to the StoryWarning! Do not attempt this route (the North Ride) unless you want to encounter dangerous dogs and deal with cliffs below the summit and avoid cornice ridges.
This is the sequal to Biking Adventure to Darrington. Me and Michael have been wanting to do this one for quite some time. The Adventure started on Monday December 21, 2009 and ended December 23, 2009. Unfortunatly like last time this one had a late start to it, but atleast we made it to Darrington via bus, my mom holds up Michael by giving him a lot of chores before he leaves which was another facter. As we leave home we miss the main bus by less than one minute and end up missing a Darrinton bus which means more waiting time in the rain, atleast we had food.
On the bus ride to Darrington there were some nice people on the way, one man even gave me a lighter incase I needed to create a fire he tells me, also he explained how to create a fire in wet enviroments and how I should try to do this (in the future I do plan on doing this). By the time we got to Darrington it was lightly raining and dark out. As my hiking tradition I had to buy some chocolate milk and drink it in a hurry (which is around 800+ calories in about a moment). After this we headed to the Sauk-Prairie Road. When biking the atmosphere of the night was all so beautiful, Michael's jacket had a lot of reflectors on it which made it glow blue from my head lamp and it was snow rain mix. We paced very nicely and soon we could see a shadow of the mountain through the dark of the night.
The Chase BeginsAs we are biking I see a pair of glowing eyes and at first glance I was a little nervous, a moment later the dogs where chasing us and Michael got out of there just in time to not have them bite us. It wa a little worry some, from here we turn onto East Sauk Prairie Road which is where it went all down hill, or should I say up hill. As we are biking alone we see another set of glowing eyes, this time I knew it was more dogs so we hurry across and the dogs are just wild and crazy chasing us! These were bigger than the other dogs, these are not your average dogs, had we been on foot theres no way I could have out runned them even if I did not carry a huge overnight pack on my back. I remember one of them even after biking as fast as I could getting real close, almost within biting distance but I just kept going and going until I was out of sight. What a frightening bike ride were my thoughts. At this point we start to head South a little which was going well according to our map, what we did not know was our route went over private property, until we were there. We came up to a gate and it said "no trespassing", according to our topo map it looked like any other road which frusterated me. Michael and me agreed we would still go for it, not only did we want to go up the mountain, but we sure well did not want to deal with those dogs, especially considering they were waiting for us, or atleast thats what I thought it would be, unfortunatly it was worse than that.
After we dropped off our bikes we started to hike up the road. As we were walking we would hear the constance of dog barking behind us, which frightened me. Michael and me had our ice axes out by then just incase, well I hate to say it but for protection. As we got further and further up the road we still hear there barking, at this point we know what is going down which we feared would happen... They are stalking us! We did not stop for a long time, we just kept going up and up trying to get as high up, as far away from the dogs as possible. Later even when we are a ways above Darrington we still hear them barking, I was terrified at this point. There was no stopping, it just kept going on and on for hours, up hill hiking at a fast pace and not resting. Way later up the mountain we start to hear less and less sound of the dogs barking but for all we knew they could be still stalking us. Michael made a prediction that they would not follow the road but rather cut through because they are so desparate to get to us that they would go way out of there way to get us! This to me was one of the biggest times of fear in my life and is when I finally got a good time to use my quote "Climb to live, live to climb", basically saying now we have a very good reason to be climbing the mountain... for our lives!
Finally Some Rest
I think I dreamed a lot that night but I forget now what it was of, anyways we woke up during early morning. I go out to get the food and we have ourselves some waffles and snacks. My shoe laces were just frozen solid so I was glad I did not untie them and rather unhooked them from my shoe with cold fingers. Too bad my water was mostly frozen so I would have to shake it up to perhaps unmelt it a bit. The sky had a semi clearing look to it which excited me. After this we made a summit bid. At first we were wondering if we should ditch the bikes, go over the summit to Darrington then call mom and get picked up with the bikes, fortunatly we did not go for that idea, because the results would have been in vain. It was a fun feeling hiking through snowy woods up the mountain, no trail, just pure route finding and navigating.
Heading up to the False Summit
Later we found the ridge which we would plunge on some steps and be fine on others, and go over snowy bushes. I was glad for the time being there was no fear of dogs. As we gain the ridge we all of a sudden see ahead a very steep zone. To my suprise Michael acually did not seem to mind it so we went for it. First it was 45 degree slope, and then it just got steeper and steeper near some icicles. I could tell by the slope that it would be dangerous to do if there was no snow. As we kept going up it my thoughts were "I acually like the feeling of steep slopes" and I started to realize as we were on it that ice tools would be handy right here. It was kinda a powdery snow that was knee deep and below it was just ground, as I went further up our progress slowed more and more and it got to the point were I said lets find another way because below was dangerous ice and was just not good for foot holds, when I say it's not safe, you know that it's not safe.
We headed down the slope and headed over to the left of were we came from earlier. It was indeed steep but was not nearly as bad and there was a point that I had to be careful and get around a steep spot with a tree, which I used the tree to climb that part. After this the slopes got more gentle and we soon gain the ridge. The snow was knee deep at this point making it a bit harder to travel, Michael decides to attempt making snow shoes, they work at first but then sorta fall apart, I myself know that if you are going to make snow shoes you really got to commit the time to place them together. I decide to go ahead of him and I see what looks like the summit, I hurry and hope think "were almost there were almost there!" but unfortunatly I was wrong. We were not even close!
Heading up the North Ridge
Going down the ridge was easier than I had thought it would be, but the flat section tired me out a bit and I started to become dizzy. Views of White Horse Mountain would come which I felt there that this was true mountain country. The ridge started out gradule and then became harder as we went further and further up. There was a point on a cornice ridge with cliffs ahead that I said I would be fine with turning around. To my amazement Michael steps in and has us keep going, also he found a way to bypass the cliffs by going down the mountain and around. After we start heading back up it starts to get to waist deep powder and every step starts to become more and more tiresome, but the feeling was getting more and more incredible. Words that come to mind is that it felt almost out of this world because I was really there in the moment climbing mountains. The slope was powder so we had to kick steps and it was then when I came up with a technique for steep slopes like these. Your arm can acually have as much use as your ice axe by putting your arm in the snow then having it bent, kinda like an ice tool.
Heading for Home
As we head down the mountain it was interesting how we were between two layers of clouds, one above and one below. Around half way down we hear dog barks. "Looks like my fears caught up to me" were my thoughts. We also heard a truck as well which could be good, or could be bad. Either way I was worried. We headed down at a decent pace and at about the last mile we were quite about our walking and even earlier were trying to keep as much quiet as possible. To my amazement we get to the gate safely and we make a quiet grab for our bikes. We see a guy which I worry is the land owner but fortunatly was a PUD guy. Afer this we had our ice axes to our sides just incase we needed them. Fortunatly the dogs must have taken one of the forks in the road.