Thursday, November 1, 2007

First Snow Hike of the Season

West Side of Captain's Point via Marten's Creek
and the south flanks of Scrabble Mountain

Looking due north off a spur ridge of Captain's Point near the
intersection of the Kelley Creek Trail.

I might be a little light on the posting but certainly not on the hiking, though the lousy weather has put somewhat of a damper in my activities. But with a string of nice, sunny days, a chance for some hiking was in the offing. Where, was the $64,000 question.

Cold (or cooler) weather . . . shorter days . . . and that ever-present threat of rain limit the reasonable choices you can make if you want to hike nude. I find the major factor in my decision-making for cold-weather nude hiking is exposure . . . specifically the amount of exposure to sunlight that I can expect on my body. If it's already 40F out and your hiking naked under dark canopy or late afternoon shade, then you are going to get cold rather fast. I want the sun on my skin to warm me. That need narrows choices. I'm going to have to get on the ridges, stick to south-facing slopes and plan my route so that I have the sun facing me inbound, and again facing me in the afternon when I'm outbound. On top of that, I've got to avoid windy areas. Where do you find a route that meets those requirements, is still interesting enough to hike, and is nude-friendly?

No snow when I started around 3,300 ft. Valhalla Ridge is in the background above Marten Creek valley

I opted for a disused logging road at the far end of the Marten Creek valley (the same road that leads many people to the very popular Iron Goat Trailhead). The valley is a broad glacial valley facing south. Ten miles further in than the Iron Goat TH, the road gives access to several old logging areas on Captains, Windy Peak and the hinterland mountains that give rise to Valhalla and Scrabble Mountains. At the creek's headwaters the road (already gated a mile back) crosses a wooden bridge and begins a steep and long climb up the sides of the slopes toward the backside of Captain's Point. What is interesting about this hike is that you have it to yourself . . . and if anyone did by any chance want to come up this logging road you would see them from a long distance off. A great place to hike nude!

Snow peppers the ground near the top. Not a great deal as we haven't had any great, precip-dumping storms yet. An average of 6-8 inches . . . snowshoes not needed.

Once on top I go exploring . . . searching for a route to connect around to the northwest side of Captain's Point where the ridge continues northwesterly to connect with Johnson Ridge and Joan Lake. This section of ridge belongs to the Kelley Creek Trail, which comes around Captain's from the south and west. It would be nice if I could blaze a connector route to cut off the hard under canopy trail of Kelley. I know where I need to go . . . in fact, can see the meadow where the trail comes up onto the ridge. Unfortunately, I still cannot see the easy way across one last treacherous wall of rock between the ridges.

As often happens . . . you run out of time and know you have but a few hours of light to get back. Reluctantly, I do. Good thing I brought a headlamp as I make it back to the car and warmth later than I think . . . because I daddled. But I daddled nude and didn't really feel the cold until I stop moving and sat down in my car. Then I realized how cold is was outside . . . 34F and dropping.

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