Mount McCausland – A Hardy 7-mile Climb Near Stevens Pass

Gain 1800 ft in elevation, with balanced switchbacks and meadows that are filled with blueberry fields. Many berry pickers were everywhere collecting what bears have left behind. No bears in sight, although all commented that they are ‘around’ and watching. Mountain is named after Norman McCausland in 1988, a lifelong dedicated ranger and Forest Service control officer. From the peak the views of Valhalla Lake (below) and the Glacier Peak (above). The pointy peak on the left is Lichtenberg Mountain. Same height but not a very inviting one.

Our mountaineer trainee St. Bernard puppy, Mocha, scaled her real summit after a 4-hour climb @5747 ft-peak. Below a graduation photo.

Time to retrace our steps for a 4-hour descend before the weather changes.

Nevada’s Highest Point-Boundary Peak


This cantankerous ‘peak’ is off our bucket list! It started @6.17am with the stunning smoke-filtered sunrise near the Nevada/California state line. A torturous 10-hour climb that starts with a challenging 8-mile drive just to reach the trail head. Our rental Nissan 4Wheel-Armada tore up the ruts and over the boulders only to begin the double challenging climb itself.  From the parking area at the 9,900 foot Kennedy Saddle, the first part seemed deceivingly scenic. Then came the vertical ascent (3000-ft) on what felt like the sinking sand with a steep scree slope that tried to swallow us.  In retrospect, judging by the short mileage we had underestimated the difficulty of the upper part of the climb. Nevertheless we mustered the strength up till the second false summit at @12500, then made the wise decision to descend in the equally dangerous sliding scree down before dark. See pix of CA fire-sunset below. Family of 3 deer was nice..but wait till you face the summit(s)- below




Benton Hot Springs with steaming 102F mineral baths was the reward for the gruesome trek. BTW, Benton Hot Springs was the once buzzing silver mining town of the Mono County. Now with only historic remnants of mining shafts, (Janie’s) busy brothel, old freight wagons and old jail house, it’s only a very quiet town catering to hikers, climbers, rough riding mountain bikers and history buffs. Highlights: Learned that Mono Lake was saline waters w/no fish. Topaz Lake in the next town of Topaz was good for fishing.  NOTE: The plot of my next e-book is in the works. The Boundary Peak trek will be spiced up with sightings of ‘alien‘ creatures as well intriguing characters. Maybe even an over zealous Bigfoot Researches-dot-org investigator at work? I named him Chuck Torres….. Stay tuned.    




3-Bridge, 5-mile Loop Hike


Just a half-hour drive from downtown Seattle, via I-90, Tiger Mountain offers this combo, among hundreds of other trails in its 14,000 acre administered by State’s DNR. (Department of  Natural Resources). All signed meticulously, yet still easy to get lost in. The gain in elevation in this one is 1200-ft. on a 5-mile loop from the trail head. Perfect hiking in mild temps, ground moist with last night’s rain. In the deep forest the Oregon Grape- or as our biologist prefers– the Mahonia Aquifolium has already converted its bright yellow flowers into deep purple fruits.  And below pix shows the junction of up/down Tiger Mt. peaks where party breaks for lunch. Note:#01 Absolutely delighted to see a few visitors from Chile joined my blog! Hope they also go to Amazon/Kindle to read my mountain e-books.  Note:#02 California fires are worrisome, but our long-ago planned ascent of Boundary Peak (NV) on Aug.27 is still on. Keeping all fingers crossed! 


Taylor Mountain-West Summit

This hike is a little known forest trail used by equestrians and bikes as well. Home to deer and elk and a few reported cougar sightings. Today it was elk country! Our apprentice-hiker puppy’s first real Summit @  2650 ft. West Peak. Shady, steep 4-mile hike and not a single other hiker. But- plenty of musky scents and freshly produced scat piles of resident elk and bears, lots of bears.  Sadly, or fortunately, none came out to greet us! No wonder the horse/elk/bear flies were busy swarming. Below the 14-month old (exhausted) Saint the summit cataloging smells of the furry friends. MochaTaylorMtBAug2020

Below stock photos of Taylor Mountain’s elks and black bears, that we had seen in previous hikes—but– not today. Note: For easy access to my mountain thriller e-books, just click or copy:





Garfield Ledge-Plus- Stegosaurus Butte



Two new steep hikes and the Connector Trail between them, same day! Oh what fun! Cool 55-degrees; Day’s combined mileage for the package 7.5 miles with combined elevation gain circa 1500-ft.  Garfield Ledge first: Smooth new trail at first, then series of steep wood-steps will deliver you a level ledge @1076-ft. leaving you to communicate with Preacher-its-Pulpit & Quartz mountains across, looking right at you. 

After following same route back down, the newly signed  Connector Trail will guide you across the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River, and up a very steep and jungle-rough 2-mile path to Stegosaurus, aka Choir Boy Butte.  It’s named after a creature called Stegosaurus Stenops, meaning: Narrow-faced-roof-lizard. Aka Choir Boy, because the appearance of the Butte from the heights of Preacher Mountain & Pulpit Peak resembles the shape of that creature. Summit of Preacher Mountain sits @ 5934-ft. one that we have not had the pleasure of climbing in the past. Below is a very tired Saint but showing great improvement in mountaineering skills. NOTE # 01: Special thanks to my e-book reader who left ‘surprise’ raving review on Amazon. (For book title:Her Last Hit)  Gives me immense motivation. Thanks. NOTE #02: Packing for our ascent of Nevada’s highest, Boundary Peak, Aug.27th. MochaAtGarfieldLedge

Heybrook Ridge-modest summit @1327-ft


Just an hour from Seattle, in a tiny town called Index, climb almost a dozen sharp & rocky switchbacks, quickly gaining  800-ft elevation to reach amazing views. In the distance Bridle Veil Falls runs through the cracks of Mount Index; @5991-ft, a technical climb.  The falls come from popular Lake Serene (not seen).


What did I tell you about the sharp switch backs? Note 1: Follow this blog to share our planned ascent of Boundary Peak @13,140-ft/10mile- highest point of Nevada, on Aug27th. Note#2: Thank y’all my Amazon/Kindle e-book readers in India, UK, Denmark, Norway and Turkey. There is a ‘Boundary Peak Mystery’ in the making also!


Below is our addition to the hiking group; 1-yr. old Mocha (girl), Saint Bernard puppy (currently 100-lbs) who is in training for building muscle&stamina. Needs breaks, treats and water. 

HeybrookMocha Pix

Oxbow Loop Trail-Snoqualmie River Valley

Mocha at River

Hang tight to the novice hiker so the rapids do not get her…

A small hike with big rewards: Glacial history, ice-cold river on this 88-degree day. History, 19 thousand years ago, Vashon glacier pushed its way past Mount Si (3900-ft high), making a great ice dam and a large lake, now known as Middle&South Fork-Snoqualmie River Valleys. 2000 years later the glacier receded carving a landscape of meandering watercourses, forming an Oxbow on the Middle Fork. 

Oxbow Trail sign

Oxbow trail tree

This huge attraction sits next to the trail.  One of many massive old growth fir trees that were logged in the 1880’s. This stump remained. It eventually rotted enough to allow hemlock seedlings to take root on top, sending their adventurous roots down along the stump and into the ground. The stump will eventually rot and these trees will fall over, but probably not in our lifetime. NOTE: Thank y’all who have been filling their pandemic days reading my Amazon Kindle freebees: ‘Murder On the PCT’, ‘Just Marry Me!’ and ‘Man from Mt. Fuji’.  

Most inviting volcano climb:Mount Scott-Fire Lookout, over Oregon’s Crater Lake


This hike embodies all superlatives, nothing less: Deepest, clearest lake, Crater Lake is the bluest and deepest in the nation. Deepest point 1943-ft. Mount Scott is the highest point @ 8929-ft. summit within the 286 sq. miles of Crater Lake National Park (which is 5th oldest Nat’l Park).  According to my climbing partner, Steve, –scientist-turned volcanologist– ‘Mt.Scott is a parasitic or a satellite cone of what once was (7700 years ago) Mount Mazama, that erupted violently, (terrifying the mystified Klamath people and other tribes), emptying the magma chamber causing the original 12-thousand foot high Mt. Mazama to collapse into the chamber, forming a huge caldera. Hard evidence that many tribe people perished in the eruption? Archaeologists uncovered 75 sagebrush sandals from a cave buried beneath a layer of Mt. Mazama’s ash. Fast forward, over many centuries the caldera filled to become the bluest Crater Lake. Now the real accurate geological bit:  Mt. Scott, (5-mile round trip hike with mind blowing views of  Mt. Thielsen (yesterday’s torturous climb-the cowhorn!), Klamath Basin+all of Eastern Cascades)  is merely one of several ‘andesitic’ cones, i.e. an extrusive igneous volcanic rock extrusions and rhyolite+silicon dioxide. THERE!  Smaller cones can still be seen in the area in and around the Park. Crater Lake in the foreground, then East Rim with Mt. Scott in the background.  


Once on the top, views from Mt. Scott Lookout, west to Crater Lake. There is still charred treeline as evidence on the North Entrance Hwy of the massive 21-thousand acre 2015 forest fire. 

Mt Scott trail head sign.  View across the ancient caldera of Mt Scott. Fire lookout is way at the highest point on the ridge, after climbing the 1250 vertical feet above the caldera. NOTE#1: Just a quick ‘thanks’ to  all my followers (around the globe) of this blog; all that spurs the passion to climb more volcanoes! Call it ‘Volcano Craze or Volcano Obsession?’ NOTE#2:  Mucho thanks for the overwhelming interest in my e-books (around the globe; like India, Denmark, Turkey, Australia, Canada, Japan++) Confidentially in Peru, Her Last Hit, Murder on the High Rockies, Murder on PCT++ on Kindle continue to be some of those titles on Amazon Kindle. New salutation: Namaste, All! Below is a telephoto of the look out from the bottom of caldera.


Climbed Mount Thielsen, the Cow horn Peak volcano- July 16th.

This mean volcano has been inactive since its last eruption 250-thousand years ago, has eroded down to its present cow horn shaped spire @9182-ft. aka Lightning Rod of the Cascades. Research shows that it was named in honour of  prominent rail road engineer, Hans Thielsen in 1911. The climb itself is 10-miles round trip. First 3 miles are on trail through forest area. Then degenerates into a climbers’  boot path to next 2 miles of Class 3 scramble, pure torture! Pictures below speak volumes.


End of the 3 mile trail and start of the 2 mile climber’s boot path. Feels like a moment to seize up your opponent. Incidentally this is exactly where Pacific Crest Trail cuts through Thielsen trail. We later encountered a few thru-hikers on the highway heading for their re-supply point @ Annie Spring Creek Restaurant&Gift Shop at Crater Lake Park South entrance.  

 Left. My hiking buddy, Steve, the budding volcanologist, finally atop the Chicken Ledge, elevation 9,100, 80-feet below the summit. It is called the Chicken Ledge for a good reason; the last 80 feet is Class 4 climbing, and most, including us, chicken out, instead stay atop the ledge to take in the views. Climbing up 50 degree boulder/slab while breathing the thin oxygen of 9000 ft. air is a climber’s challenge!


Above: A joyous celebratory salute on the ‘ledge’. Note: Tomorrow’s post will be  on yet another breathtaking volcano of the Cascades: Mount Scott, a volcano remnant, that now looms above the Crater Lake, within the Crater Lake National Park.


Iron Horse, formerly John Wayne Pioneer Trail


A  sunny 5-mile hike on the old railway roadbed of the 300-mile Palouse to Cascades of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul Pacific Railroad. Named Iron Horse State Park in 2018. Palouse people, a member of a Saheptin speaking Native Americans that inhabited SW Washington and NW Idaho lands.  Trail is mostly for bikers but also shared with runners in training and a few long distance hikers.  Above: Extending the hike to reach Alice Creek Falls. Just good to take in the beauty of the  fast moving water and mossy boulders; maybe a splash to cool off, but not to venture in.


Long and willowy foxgloves, fields of aspens and ‘columbine flowers’. More about the columbine: to be accurate, again according to Steve, my hiking buddy the biology major, [Aguilegia Flavescens] is mostly found in Alpine higher elevations, but when found in 3000 ft or lower, the Latin name becomes ‘Aguilegia Formosa‘.  A little help from Latin; Aguilegia means -eagle- hence name refers to ‘Birds in Flight‘.   Note: Natives used the yellow flower to treat ulcers-however- they also knew that once it matures, it becomes cardiogenic= toxic, causing heart palpitations. Good to know! NOTE #1: Thank You for my loyal readers who have downloaded my newest e-book: ‘Confidentially in Peru‘. It’s truly an entertaining and witty plot with ghosts and missing people cold cases. NOTE #2: Honest to goodness, ‘real climbing’  awaits; when July 15 through 19th, we’re set to do two old volcanoes in Oregon. NOTE #3: While our 100 lb. St. Bernard puppy visits her birth family: