Brook

Brook

This incredibly difficult year is almost over. I have gone through a divorce, started to build a new life, and see great hope for the future. However, the greatest pain that I have dealt with is losing my fight to tame my Australian Shepard, Brook. After seven years, I had to put Brook down in March of this year. 

In moving back to Indiana and reconnecting with so many old friends, I came to understand the connection everyone had with Brook. Typically, the first question from an old friend was about Brook, who they had come to know and love through our many Adventures documented in this Blog, Instagram (@AussieBrook), and on Facebook. If you followed my blog closely, you got a glimpse of the conflict I had with Brook, highlighted in the post “My Dog is Complicated”. I have had many dogs as documented in my 2017 post “Always a Dog”. As a child, my first dog, Cindy, died in my arms after being hit by a car. Cindy II finished raising me and so many other great dogs accompanied my Adventures in Life. 

Brook's First BrewPub

Brook was perfect, beautiful, smart, athletic, but she was also an Australian Shepard with entrenched herding behavioral instincts. As a puppy and young dog she was awesome. I was the Alpha and she was OK with wanting to please me. In her teenage years we were inseparable living in Bellingham, WA, hanging out at Brewpubs, and beginning her backpacking experience in the North Cascades of Washington.

Back in Oregon and through her twenties, we conquered incredible adventures together, but stress was building in our relationship. Everything we did had to be negotiated. In 2019 our backpacking adventures typically included issues with Brook’s behavior.

Brook’s last backpacking adventure was the Strawberry Mountain Trek in early 2020 where she let it be known that she was done with backpacking. What had become obvious was that Brook considered herself the Alpha of our pack and that was not going to work. 

The last 2 years I expended incredible energy to manage Brook’s behavior. My grandson was around a lot and Brook could not be trusted around him. We were always on walks where I had to avoid other people, especially with dogs involved.

But she continued to change, you could see it in her eyes. She was struggling with her need to be in control. I kept trying to figure it out by investigating if there were medical issues. Nothing worked, and she had deep behavioral issues probably connected to her herding instincts. It all came to a head one evening when she would not let me put on my crocs to go out to the hot tub. I reached down to put on my other sandals and she furiously attacked me. This was such a decisive event, and I knew that it was over. She had to be put down. 

I am ready to move forward to start my new life, but I had to first write Brook’s final chapter. I’m hoping that the pain of failing Brook will end so that I can cherish the good life that we had. There will be another dog in my life, I’m thinking a really calm Golden Retriever who will accompany me through my Fourth Quarter.

Town Run Trail Talking Tree Loop

I found a new trail to hike today on the Northeast side of Indianapolis. The Town Run Trail is an excellent bike trail but it served me well for hiking on this beautiful Autumn day. Located between 96th and I465 along the White River, this trail has been optimized for off road bikers (so no headphones while hiking). The full trail is 6.6 miles but I cut it down to 4.4 miles by turning back at the Talking Tree. Remember this is a primarily a bike trail which is a one way trail out and back, which also means don’t jump the trail because you really don’t know which way it might be going. I captured my hike with my latest Beta Test version of the Natural Atlas App. My hike is named the Talking Tree Loop.

The Trailhead is just south of 96th on the westside of the White River. There is a nice parking lot at the trailhead.

A spaghetti trail but really done well.

The trail is a very typical Indiana river corridor meandering along the White River near housing and industrial activity. I liked doing it after the leaves have fallen partly for awareness of bikers and partly to have a sense of where I was at.

The trail is designed for bikers so there are many alert signs announcing upcoming trail conditions for the bikers. There are also a few built up trail enhancements.

I do love the trees in Autumn.

Since I am planning on moving to Grand Junction next year I appreciated this sign alerting me to how far it is to the finest bike trails in America,

I hope to get to Moab in the coming year.

I did see many squirrels and had a cool eye to eye contact with a large mule deer about 20 feet away from me. And of course the Talking Tree.

Using NAC to Remove Chrome/Cobalt from Blood

I have 2 Resurfaced Hips made of Chrome/Cobalt. The first in 2006 and the second in 2010. I first posted about this situation after watching the documentary film “The Bleeding Edge” on Netflix. Since then my concern has only heightened due to the potential of chrome/cobalt poisoning in my blood and tissue from metal fatigue realized from these metal hips. I have friends who have experienced the horrible effects from this heavy metal poisoning so I have monitored my own situation closely in recent years. In this post I wanted to share how the use of the supplement N-Acetyl-Cysteine, NAC, has actually decreased the levels of Chrome/Cobalt in my body.

My History: My family has shown a propensity toward the development of an arthritis that creates some bone deposits in our hips. For me this has been accelerated by a life of sports activity, most notably basketball, that allowed this arthritic condition to wear away the natural lining of my hip joint. Once I understood this back in 2006 when I was 52 years old and in constant pain I had to figure out a solution. I had heard that hip replacements were good for 15-20 years which did not seem to match well with my age. I remember hearing about hip resurfacing in a 60 Minutes type segment on Americans traveling to India for this surgery. So I started investigating this alternative procedure. The allure for me was the fact that you could remain active and if needed down the road I could still get a hip replacement. Fortunate for me there was an orthopedic surgeon in Salem, Oregon, who was allowed to perform this surgery probably due to the FDA’s 510(k) pathway for approving medical devices. My first hip was his 439th hip resurfacing. I do believe that my second hip done in 2010 was from the same design and stock of the Cobalt-chrome implant.

My first heavy metals blood/urine test was done in 2016 which showed that my levels were higher then normal but still within a safe range. My tests in 2021 showed that these levels had not come down but still no serious worries except that it seemed to me that my muscles around my hips were not recovering as quickly from heavy backpacking exertion as they used to. In 2021 my doctor asked if I wanted to explore blood chelation therapy to remove heavy metals from my blood. That seemed a bit excessive, but I appreciated the advice and so I set out to investigate other options to achieve this chelation. Of course the Internet provided a wealth of information that once deciphered led me to try taking the natural health supplement N-Acetyl-Cysteine which provided the chelation of heavy metals in my blood to be disposed of via urination.

During my recent physical exam in June of 2022 by doctor was very pleased with the progress that had been made with my Chrome/Cobalt numbers. Chrome is really the major concern for me and my test results went from 2.4 mcg/L in 3/21 to 1.9 mcg/L in 6/22. I have to admit that I was fairly nervous about getting these test results back because I felt like I had really pushed my aging body over that period of time. After completing the Lost Coast Trail in 2/22 I felt like my recovery took longer so I focused my discipline to take the recommended dosage 1200 mg of NAC over 24 hours. It appears that it contributed to the lowering of chrome/cobalt levels in my body. This awakening along with a major life change has caused me to backoff on extensive backpacking treks so I have reduced my NAC daily dosage to 600 mg per day. The only real side effect with taking NAC for me is that it bothers your stomach a bit if you don’t take the pill with a meal.

This article in Arthroplasty Today, “N-Acetyl-Cysteine Reduces Blood Chromium and Cobalt Levels in Metal-on-Metal Hip Arthroplasty“, seemed to be somewhat straightforward in describing the advantages of NAC.

Nothing overly scientific presented in my post, but I thought it was important to at least reference my outcomes on the Internet. My resurfaced hips are still providing me with a positive lifestyle. The Adventure Continues.

Turkey Run State Park

It is late April on a perfect weather day that I decided to visit Turkey Run, my favorite Indiana State Park when I was growing up. I was always impressed with the canyons cut through the limestone but I was worried that those canyons might seem smaller and less significant now that I am returning as an old man. But no, the park was all that I remembered it to be and even better hiking it on a perfect spring day. I will reference the trail map for perspective about my hiking path. I started at the Turkey Run Lodge which I have stayed at with my family back in the 90’s.

First I hiked down to Sunset Point past the Lieber Cabin, the best overlook of Sugar Creek

But the best trails are accessed via the suspension bridge over Sugar Creek.

The first trail leading from the suspension bridge is #10 that takes you up through one of the deeper canyons but ends up with a narrow trail up a creek bed. I actually decided that this portion of the trail was too dangerous for an old guy and I turned around to take on the next trail option.

I next took on trail #3 that skirted the rocks near Sugar Creek heading over to the Ice Box. This is also where I started to experience the hundreds of steps that contributed to the overall day’s exercise.

I kept to the Creek by continuing on trail #5 and may more steps.

I decided to continue on to trail #9 to go up Falls Canyon and then over to Boulder Canyon.

Boulder Canyon reminded me of boulder jumping that you need to do on Pacific coastal hikes.

I hiked back down trail #5 to then go up to the Ladders portion of the park.

At the top of the ladders I proceeded on trail #3 crossing the upper trail #10 that I backed off from earlier.

At this point in the day I was feeling the miles and the vertical that I had hiked and I was ready to work my way back to the suspension bridge.

It was a great return to Turkey Run, probably the park that first helped me appreciate the wonders of hiking in the wilderness.

Eagle Creek Park Red Trail

Red Trail Marker

I have relocated to Indianapolis for a while and to satisfy my need for nature and hiking I took on the Red Trail at Eagle Creek Park, one of the largest municipal parks in the United States. This Spring hike showed hints of foliage and flowers as well as some impassable muddy sections. The Red Trail Loop is approximately 7 miles with a 270′ vertical change that takes you around a portion of the lake and past all of the parks amenities. I parked near the 71st entrance and hiked in a counterclockwise direction easily finding the conveniently marked Red Trail Markers. The trail is very well maintained. You quickly get a good view of the lake as you proceed around and across it on a land path bridge. I was also impressed with the conveniently placed benches for rest and observation of the wildlife.

Once across the lake you get a nice winding trail through the trees until you end up at the recreational equipment rental facility which also has a nice little snack concession stand.

The trail then comes to the Earth Discovery Center. Turtle Turtle

Next you come across the Go Ape Treetop Adventure area. This appeared to be quite popular even on this rather chilly Spring day.

The trail again leads out to a lake view and then you start heading back to the beginning. Lots of nice little Gullies, which I’m sure are very lush later in the summer.

You then approach Lilly Lake but this is also the area near the ice skating pond where the trail gets really muddy.

I then came across something familiar but foreign to Indiana. From a distance I see this huge tree trunk that I knew could not be from here. And low and behold it was a Douglas Fir Tree Trunk from Oregon.

I end the loop with more views of the lake.

I will be living right next to Eagle Creek Park for a while. I have a feeling it will offer the trail exercise that I will need. The Adventure Continues

LCT with Coosksie Spur Loop

My recent solo return to the Lost Coast Trail carried with it many memories of my failed solo attempt back in December of 2015. My backpacking buddies were not able to accompany me so I was free to relive that 2015 experience on this year’s LCT. Plus the weather was perfect for my 4th adventure on the Lost Coast Trail. My goal for the first night was to get past the first small low tide point which has never been a problem but I wanted to set myself up for the following day to make it past the next larger low tide zone.

I decided to camp at Fourmile Creek to be far enough away from the elephant seals and occasional cow traffic to have a peaceful night’s sleep.

I had set myself up for a leisurely day that would end with getting past the first larger low tide zone toward late afternoon.

I hung out with the Elephant Seals at Punta Gorda Lighthouse for a few hours. BTW – the lighthouse does look better since it has been cleaned up in recent years. The seals were totally lethargic enjoying the sunny beach. Plus I had LCT all to myself, I never saw anyone until my third day. I was Chillaxing.

Low tide was around 6 pm so I knew I could eventually get past the first large low tide section.

That cute old Elephant Seal Girl laying on the trail was definitely making eyes at me.

This coastal area is strikingly beautiful with the crashing waves.

Crashing Waves

I guess my brain was totally absorbed by the fabulous weather and memories of how I attacked this trail in 2015 because I totally forgot about the impassable zone at Sea Lion Gulch which could have been avoided if I had remembered to take the high trail. This is my fourth LCT trek so I was not checking the map as I diligently as I should have.

Approaching Sea Lion Gulch

So there I was was waiting at the Sea Lion Gulch point waiting for the tide to go out, but I was getting impatient. You cannot walk around this point when it is wet. Those loose pebble rocks are really difficult to walk on.

After slipping a few times on the algae covered rocks I realized that I would have to climb up and over the rocks that define this point. This is doable but I would not advise it for an old guy, however, I did it complete with some nice cuts and bruises.

Then came the long beach hike past Coosksie Creek and onto the safety of Randall Creek. But this was good because this is exactly what I had to do in 2015 when I had to jump into the ocean to get around this point.

I have always been intrigued by these unique striated rock formations.

By now I am starting to realize that my short February day is running low on sunlight and I am more tired than I expected to be so the approach of Randall Creek is highly anticipated.

Southern End of Low Tide Zone

I was able to set up camp at Randall Creek as darkness fell. The moonlight was still hidden behind the mountains but once the moon appeared it was as if a light was turned on.

I had thought about hiking down to Big Flat before returning to take on the Spanish Ridge – Coosksie Creek Trail but I determined that I needed a Nero Day at Spanish Flat to allow my tired body to recover. Plus this is what I had to do for a rainy day in 2015 so why not spend this glorious day chillaxing.

As you can see the weather was perfect, however, on the evening of Friday 2/18 the humidity spiked and everything got dewy wet. But the weather report called for sun by 9:00 am and that is exactly what happened allowing me to pack up for my reenactment of my 2015 overland escape up Spanish Ridge. I thought about trying to climb straight up as I did in 2015, however, that was aided by the typhoon rated winds. So I opted to take the actual Spanish Ridge Trail 7/10th of a mile back up trail.

My concern was about what condition this trail would be in. It was obvious that it is lightly used but I knew it could be done with or without an actual trail.

Being able to see all of this helped me understand why it had been so treacherous in 2015. The Spanish Creek Canyon forms a natural funnel that allowed the winds to reach extremely high velocity hitting me harder and harder the higher I climbed.

I’m pretty sure that rock was where I was able to put on a wool shirt that was critical in combating Hypothermia in 2015

I was having an awesome remembrance while truly enjoying a really beautiful trail.

At 2381′ you reach the junction of the Coosksie Creek Trail which heads north on a ridgeline providing exceptional views of the coastline below.

This trail does give you some vertical and most of the time you know you are on the trail but you also need to interpret the terrain to figure out where the trail should be. Thankfully there are occasional trail markers which give you good confidence boosts. It did turn out to be a long day and I was in need of water as I approached the upper Coosksie Creek where I camped for the night. The next day I would take the Coosksie Spur Trail back to the LCT.

Upper Coosksie Creek Area

There are more times on the Spur Trail when you wonder where the actual trail is, this is partly due to extra trails created by free range cattle that use the land some of the year. However, you can see where you want to go and the official LCT Map shows you the drainage contours that you need to navigate. I also used a free GPS USGS PDF map on my Avenza App to validate where I was at.

I rejoined the LCT at the Long Big Rock access point.

Weather was still great but I knew change was coming. The wind was in my face but no complaints, I was finishing up an awesome adventure.

I got back to my car as rain drops started to fall.

This was my 4th trek on the Lost Coast Trail. My reference to 2015 was about my first attempt “I Lost to the Lost Coast” where everything went bad and I was thankful to have survived. This trek route was almost an exact duplicate of that perilous trek, however, this time the conditions were perfect.

AM San Francisco

Historical Posts representing Adventure Continues: Second Quarter

I was presented with an opportunity to work for Hewlett-Packard in the San Francisco Bay area in the Summer of 1987. This was sort of a dream come true, but I also had to weigh it against living in such a beautiful place as Steamboat Springs, CO. But as was the norm for me I let the Adventure Continue, so California here I come. This first post is only about the first few weeks in California culminating with an appearance on the TV Show “AM San Francisco”. But first I had to get orientated with HP and figure out how to bring my family out. I went to the Bay Area first to start work and find a place for us to live. I was hired as a Systems Engineer for the Analytical Division of HP headquartered in Palo Alto but my home office would be the Santa Clara HP Sales Office. This division of HP was responsible for all of the instrumentation and computer applications associated with running a scientific laboratory. My Initial focus would be on the HP1000 LABSAM and LAS applications that basically provided automation and management for a laboratory. Our customers were typically using our HP GCs, LCs and Mass Spectrometers to process a large volume of samples.

It just so happened that I had joined this division just a few days before the entire workforce was to gather at a resort in the San Juan Islands for a big corporate retreat. I mean I started work on Monday and was given a travel itinerary for that Thursday. I was so green, I had no idea where the San Juan Islands were, sounded to me like a place in Central America. But my flight took me to Seattle and the land transit arrangements which included a ferry took me to Orcas Island of the San Juan Islands of the state of Washington. This was fairly cool for a young computer guy who had just come out of the mountains of Colorado. And topping it off, HP issued each of us an HP 110 laptop with a printer and floppy disk drive. The retreat was then mostly focused on teaching us how we would utilize this equipment.

HP110 Computer W/Printer & Disk
HP110 Computer W/Printer & Disk

What I really think was happening was that HP had a warehouse full of these computers and peripherals that they needed to unload since nobody was buying them. But it was still a really cool surprise and this resort on Orcas Island was very nice.

The following week back in the Bay Area I went through the HP Orientation. I remember during the wine tasting training I felt my first earthquake which would prove to be a significant aspect for living in California. I found a house to rent in Fremont and I headed back to Steamboat to move my family to California. I guess our many moves had prepared us for the chaos that surrounds a move across the country. But this was our first where the company took care of all the expenses. We just had to drive to San Fran in our VW Vanagon.

Sometime during all of this Connie came across an opportunity to enter a contest for a Clairol Makeover that would take place on the AM San Francisco TV Show the week that we would arrive. I think our real motivation for entering was for the new clothing that we would get to keep. Well of course we were selected because of my graying hair which was exactly what was going to sell Clairol’s new hair color product for men. So the schedule called for us to go into San Francisco the day before the show to receive the clothing and the hair makeover.

Prepping Hair for the Show

We would then come back the next morning to be on the show. What we did not know until the evening before the show was that our daughter Sidney had been exposed to Hepatitis at his daycare just before we left Steamboat and we were not alerted because we had just left town. Well sure enough we were not feeling very good but we were kind of committed to pull off this TV appearance. So we sucked it up and participated even though we were coming down with Hepatitis. Keep that in mind as you watch the video of the Show.

TV Clip of the Clairol Makeover on AM San Francisco

In the 1970s and 1980s, KGO-TV produced weekday talk/variety shows in the 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. timeslot following Good Morning AmericaA.M. San Francisco ran from 1975 to 1987/1988


Next Post:

Start a Family in Steamboat Springs

Historical Posts representing Adventure Continues: Second Quarter

While in Palisade, CO, working for Union Oil, we bought our first house and also decided to start a family. Unfortunately we went through a couple of very painful miscarriages, but life was good. We loved our little house on the Colorado river. Palisade was an adorable little town, but up popped an opportunity to return to our beloved Steamboat. According to a Yampa Indian legend, you will return to the Yampa Valley three times, so it was meant to be. We did hold on to our house in Palisade for many years thinking that we might someday return.

I moved back to Steamboat Springs in early 1984 taking a job as an IT Tech for ACZ, Inc. I was on my own for a while living in John Skubitz’s rental off the back of his house. Connie stayed back in Palisade for while to wrap things up and graduate from Mesa College, now known as Colorado Mesa University. After a few weeks at the new job, my boss the IT Director was laid off, and I inherited the job as the IT Director. I never really wanted to find out about the politics behind that. ACZ was located in a 3 story building in the center of downtown Steamboat where we occupied the second and third floors with our water lab in the basement. The company was prospering with some lucrative mine engineering consulting projects, life was good.

First Rental Apartment

We soon found a great rental opportunity between the golf course and the ski mountain. Our landlord lived in the front and we had a fairly unique apartment off the back. At this time we had no way of knowing that on March 19th our son, Dylan, was born in Korea. Connie happened upon a meeting about foreign adoptions which led us down the path for adoption working with an agency out of Denver known as Friends of Children of Various Nations, FCVN. We made a number of trips to Denver for preparatory training sessions which culminated with a home visit in Steamboat from our case worker.

At the end of the home visit our case worker showed us a photo of our new son. That photo was all that we had for the 3-4 months that we waited for word that he would be arriving in the US. We had about 24 hours notice that our son would be arriving at Stapleton International Airport in Denver on November 2nd. I don’t think you can be more nervous, you are about to become instant parents by picking up your son at the airport.

Birth at Stapleton International Airport – GOTCHA Day
Stopping for McDonalds on the way back to Steamboat

We have this memory of eating a meal at the McDonalds in Frisco, CO on the way down to Denver. On the way back we ate at the same McDonalds with our 7 month old son. Needless to say, Life changed.

Coco & Rusty were excited to have Dylan in our family.

ACZ gave me the opportunity to build my own IT Department supporting the engineering side of the company as well as the lab side. We had a significant amount of Hewlett-Packard computers and lab instrumentation as the micro-computer was just entering the commercial scene. This IT shop soon became the Smith Brothers as Tim Smith (not related) became a full time IT Tech. ACZ was ready to expand so they jumped on an opportunity to be the anchor tenant at a new office complex on Pine Grove Road. With this location we were able to expand our lab into a regional water and soils testing facility along with expanding our engineering operation. ACZ was also a big family led by founder Alan Czarnowsky and Eldon Strid, a family of mining and lab professionals living in paradise.

ACZ did have a unique marketing strategy which involved an annual costume party for the purpose of producing a photo of all employees that would be used for their Christmas Card. The employee only party started around noon on a friday in autumn. After changing into costumes the spirits began to flow with the goal of taking the company photo.

Photo used for Annual Christmas Card for our Customers

The party progressed to dinner and continued into the night until all had dropped.

Those were the best of times. Dylan was such a joyful child to raise and hangout with so it wasn’t long before we were talking about trying the pregnancy route again to add to our family. We also moved to another great log home high on a hillside between the ski mountain and town. We traded in our VW Jetta for the new water cooled VW Vanagon which opened up better options for exploring the west with Dylan.

Steamboat Springs is a great ski town but it is an even better summer town, or at least it was 30+ years ago. Situated in the Yampa Valley surrounded by various National Forests, it was truly an adventurers paradise.

4th of July Parade

My wilderness adventures were impacted by family but I did learn to fish and telemark ski. I even put together a few telemark backpacking ski trips.

One of the best trips was with my friend John Fooks over to the Chinese Wall just down from the Devil’s Causeway.

ACZ was always getting involved in recreation opportunities. I still remember how magical it was to look up at the ski mountain when playing softball, realizing how fortunate I was to work and play in such a beautiful place.

We were cautiously optimistic when Connie got pregnant with a Summer of 86 due date. All progressed as expected so no worries about the pregnancy probably because we were happily overwhelmed with raising Dylan.

Steamboat Baby

Pregnancy did go well and Steamboat’s beautiful summer helped with Connie’s comfort.

However, I was the basket case trying to make sure all would be ready for a new baby. The hospital had the Grand Kids Child Care Center attached to it so we were able to leave Dylan there while Connie went through the birth of our daughter, Sidney.

Dylan was able to meet his new sister that afternoon.

I had settled into a my IT career helping ACZ earn a lot of money with our computer capabilities. We provided various types of Environmental Impact Reports for permitting and reclamation but the most interesting were the actual multi-year mine plans. We relied on the HP-1000 mini computer for the money making engineering work, and I had become fairly competent on that computer. This gave me a strong relationship with our HP rep, Allan Grimes, who posed the following question to me in the Spring of 1987. “Greg, have you ever considered coming into the HP fold?“. Well, no I had not, but what a great opportunity in the history of computing to have such an opportunity. The Adventure Continued.

This is a point in time that was significant for understanding my passion. My post about Why I Backpack sheds more light on this.


Next Post: AM San Francisco

Yellow Aster Butte

My preparation for the 2021 Devils Dome Trek included a day hike up Yellow Aster Butte on 8/29/21 which provided good distance, elevation and beauty. I chose this hike because I never really got to experience the upper portion of the trail back in 2016 due to weather that was not cooperating.

My 2016 hike was later in Autumn and I had gotten a late start that day so I decided not to climb to the upper view with the weather uncertainty. Brook was with me in 2016 and the Autumn colors on that hike were indicative of the trail’s name.

I wanted to get the full Yellow Aster experience and I also needed the workout of 7+ miles and 2500′ vertical climb. A beautiful Day made for a great hike. It was a Sunday so I knew that I would be competing with other hikers for parking and trail space. Many hikers were coming down after spending the night. The trail starts out with many switchbacks giving you awesome views of Mt Baker.

You can count on water from a mini glacier just before the final steep climbs.

The final climb, which is not really up to the Butte but to the peak just to the southeast of it is steep so your heart will be pumping. However, the reward of the 360 degree views are totally worth it.

Peaks around Yellow Aster Butte.

I was fortunate that the wind was not an issue which made for an enjoyable lunch break at the top. These are the times when you really appreciate access to the mountains here in the North Cascades, I was totally ready for the Devils Dome Trek. The hike back down was predictable with anticipatory thoughts of Beer and Pizza from the North Fork Brewery in Deming on the road back to Bellingham.

Devils Dome Loop – Clockwise

I love multi-day backpacking loop treks and the Devils Dome Loop in the North Cascades turned out to be a jewel. I was a bit surprised to come across it only finding a few trip reports. The distance and vertical are very similar to the Timberline Trail but the the effort was far greater.

East Bank Trail at Night

Most people approach the loop counterclockwise since the initial 4000′ climb is more moderate thanks to switchbacks. But I opted for the Clockwise route to coordinate better with the North Cascades National Park permitting for the first night. My common backpacking partner, Bryce, was gonna be challenged with getting there at a reasonable time on September 1st so I opted for a campsite halfway along the East Bank Trail at Roland Creek. We did not hit the trail until 7pm so night hiking was required. One issue worth mentioning, especially when searching for your campsite in the dark, was that the campsite shows up on the typical topo maps as being south of the creek when in fact it is north of the creek. But it did turn out to be a good site for setting up in the dark.

We hiked about 6 mile to Devils Creek Landing on Ross Lake where we had lunch and a rest before the big climb. The climb to Devils Dome or at a minimum Bear Skull Cabin was going to be the make or break for my body which is why I had been putting in extra vertical training in recent weeks. Water is an issue and the most dependable source supposedly would be found at Bear Skull Cabin 4000′ up. We were told that there was a stream at about 3000′ so we only carried 2 quarts which was adequate for our perfect cool weather climb.

However, 4000′ mostly straight up does kick your butt. Bryce and I slogged along and finally reached the Cabin after a 6 hour climb. I believe I got all that I could from my body on this climb so my training turned out to be totally justified. Now I understood why this loop is not more heavily travelled. The climb from the other direction is probably easier due to water and switchbacks, but 4000′ is a tough climb especially for an old backpacker. We did have a nice campsite just off trail toward the cabin. The night was totally clear with magnificent stars that I was too tired to enjoy.

Taking in the View from Devils Dome

The next day required another 1000′ climb up to Devils Dome which lived up to the hype for a fabulous 360 view of the North Cascades looking into Canada. The day was clear with some cloud cover moving in later, temperature at about 60 and no wind. This was as good as it could get.

Up till now we were also sharing the trail with the Pacific Northwest Trail, PNT, but that would end as we approached Devils Pass. Supposedly there is water on this 6 mile stretch but I don’t remember seeing any.

We were carrying enough water to make it to Granite Creek, which turned out to be our choice for a campsite after about an eight mile day. The trail over to Granite Creek was one of the most pleasant and beautiful stretches of hiking that I have ever experienced.

However, more campsite information would have been helpful. On the north side there is a campsite about a quarter mile up a steep trail from the stream. We opted to go to the creek assuming there would be campsites. Well, we only found one campsite barely large enough for two tents which was just south of the creek as you enter the trees. This worked out fine since there were hardly any other backpackers on this loop. And we did keep commenting on this lack of traffic especially on the long Labor Day Weekend. I guess the high vertical entry price to this loop keeps the crowds away.

Leaving Granite Creek hits you with a couple of tough 700+ ft climbs, the second being switchbacks up a fairly steep scree field.

These climbs were tough with legs that were worn out from the previous climb but were encouraged by fantastic views of Crater and Jack Mountain over beautiful valleys. The last climb was a bit precarious as you had to climb up a scree field with a few long switchbacks but also with a few really steep slippery sections. I think that I would rather be climbing here rather then descending.

We were again putting in about an 8 mile day planning to camp just before the final descent down to the Devils Park Trail which would take us back to our East Bank Trailhead parking lot.

We were again surprised that campsites were not more plentiful except for 2 to 3 miles up from the start of the descent. There was only one good campsite before the descent and it was fairly large but taken. Luckily the people there had scouted the area and found a hidden campsite a short distance behind theirs which turned out to be perfect for Bryce and I. The last day required us to descend down to Canyon Creek which was rather easy considering the number of switchbacks. This video captures my gratitude.

The long descent to the canyon floor.

At the crossing area over to the the Trailhead there is no longer a bridge, however, the stream ford is not to difficult. Plus there is a landslide just west of this crossing which forces you to ford the stream just to get around the landslide and back to the Devils Park Trail. Now you get to finish up the trek with a gentle 3+ mile hike along the stream.

Bryce and I agreed that the Devils Dome Loop is a special one, however, we would classify it as more technical or difficult. Our bodies were totally spent but it “Hurt So Good”. My advice, I originally planned to camp at Devils Creek on the 1st or second night to set up better for the long climb up to Devils Dome. One bummer for the trek was finding that thieves had stolen Bryce’s Catalytic Converter off his Toyota 4Runner.

Greg & Bryce at the end of the Devils Dome Loop

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