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Old 09-08-2019, 08:32 AM   #1
Neil's Avatar
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,087
Porter Mountain Bushwhack

It was easy to see why no one who lives there wants a trail head for Owls Head on Molly Nye Lane!

Sylvie dropped off and my route described a boomerang, heading away from Porter initially, to stay on state land. Gorgeous terrain with cliff walls and flat grassy ledges. Wide open hardwoods. After 500 feet of elly gain (now at 1500') I stopped on a promontory that offered sweeping views of the Blueberry-Porter-Cascade ridgeline in perfect detail. I spent some time here with my map, compass, camera and gps and studied my various options.

I descended, traversed and crossed Walton Brk. at 550 meters elevation and went due south to a 900 meter bump. There was open rock on this double topped bump and I had nice views of Blueberry Mtn's summit rock. Little did I know that Sylvie was sitting just off to the side waiting for our 12 o'clock radio sched. Later on when we looked at my pictures she is in one of them! I let her know I thought I would be out at 3:30 and she replied, "So, four o'clock".

My initial plan had been to ascend the ridge from the 900M bump up to about 1100M (hoping for open rock with views) then begin a mile long traverse to get directly under the summit of Porter. This looked like a bad plan now seeing how steep the slopes were. No rock was visible anywhere along the ridge anyway.

So, after perusal of the map it was obvious that a traverse at 900-950M elly would be a lot easier. This turned out to be a beautiful traverse on north facing slopes. Ie. open woods with ferns, mosses and the occasional mini-slide. I nearly always was able to find good footing, especially on the mazes of deer paths that abounded. My trajectory had me aiming directly for Cascade that appeared bigger and bigger as I approached. I walked at a slow and steady pace always mindful of where I placed my feet. It was a wonderful traverse.

Looking at the GPS and my pre-loaded track (that I was well below) I made a 45 degree turn and used the compass and altimeter to guide me up at an angle through increasingly steep but always open terrain with beautiful mosses. When I reach a point directly down the fall line under the summit I made a final turn and began the even steeper grind to the top. I could see and hear people on Cascade just before it was enveloped in a cloud and lost to view. It was very steep and the tree trunks rising out of the mosses and ferns were beautiful to look at in any direction. Of course I was mostly looking straight up. I was glad to have my GPS because otherwise it would have been difficult to hit the summit dead-on. With Cascade hidden by clouds the non-GPS way would have been to use Walton Brook and trust the altimeter and from a specific elevation on the brook follow a bearing like glue. Following a bearing like glue would have be difficult given the many cliff walls and blowdown. However, this technique would get you pretty close. Using my "eyes in the sky" I came out directly on the summit but changed compass bearing (within 5-10 degrees) every time I looked at the gps for verification, which was increasingly often as I closed in.

It had been drizzling for the final 30 minutes and as soon as I hit the summit it began raining and then it poured cold rain for about 20 minutes. I had just enough time to put on rain gear and a hat and gloves.
The trail to the junction was a succession of mud pits wherever the trail was flat. On the Cascade trail hikers that appeared well equipped were interspersed with many that were woefully ill-equipped for a wet and windy Cascade cone. Lots of cotton hoodies. Two trail runners passed me on their way down. No packs, which gave me an opportunity to think about what I would do if I came upon one with an immobilizing injury.

When I got to the trailhead at 3:45 Sylvie was already waiting with a bag of chips from Stewarts. The trailhead stewards were calling it quits when a couple of poorly equipped (footwear, clothing, one small pack between them, no lights etc.) were starting up. The stewards appeared to have talked them out of it. But as soon as the stewards drove off the hikers came back and started up the trail.
The best, the most successful adventurer, is the one having the most fun.
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