Friday, January 31, 2020

Day 42: Cathedral Peak and Tungsten Mines

August 26: It had been a cold night. I couldn't be sure how cold, but I was wishing I had my long underwear or a pad to sleep on. I made a note to pick those up before entering the Olympics. It would be even later in the year and likely quite a bit colder!

It was definitely cold enough during the night for frost to form!

It didn't rain anymore during the night but there was a thin layer of condensation on my tarp by morning so I chose to wear my waterproof socks in the morning. My feet would likely get wet from the grass along the trail otherwise.

An hour into my hike, I passed a large group of half a dozen people camped off the side of the trail. They were breaking down camp and I waved as I passed by and they waved in return, but neither side spoke. I kind of wanted to stop and chat, but not with such a large group.

The day's hiking was quite easy. This was a Pacific Crest quality trail! The trail tended to go around tall mountains and follow the contours of the mountains rather than going over the tops of them. There weren't a lot of blowdowns or mud or other trail conditions that would slow me down.

And the scenery was absolutely breathtaking! Spectacular! At one point, I stood looking over the countryside and shouting out, "Now this is why I'm out there!"

The trail reached an old cabin--it was built decades ago for a nearby tungsten mine that closed, I believe, shortly after WWII finished. And long before the area was declared a wilderness--structures like this aren't normally allowed in wilderness areas but this one was grandfathered in. The cabins were maintained--kind of, sort of, in a wilderness sort of way--and hikers were welcome to sleep in them overnight. It was the middle of the afternoon when I arrived, however, and much too early in the day to stop. Anyhow, the inside of the cabins were freezing cold!

Old cabin by the tungsten mine

I left the cabins behind passing the actual site of the old tungsten mine and it suddenly occurred to me that I actually had no idea what tungsten was or what it was used for. Aluminum, copper, coal.... yeah, I get that. But what the hell is tungsten? Besides the filament of lightbulbs that we don't use anymore? Surely there was more to tungsten than old light bulbs. Maybe I'd have to google it when I got back home. I made a mental note to write a note in my journal to remind me to look up tungsten later.

The old, abandoned tungsten mine

The trail continued onward eventually turning a corner where Cathedral Peak spread out in all its glory. The mountain is magnificent! A jaw-dropping wonder! There was no doubt how the peak got its name. The peak towered over the nearby terrain and was visible for a couple of hours before the trail headed over Cathedral Pass and away from the peak. From the backside, the peak wasn't quite so dramatic but it was still a spectacular area.

On the far side of Cathedral Peak was a large burn area. The trail was in good shape, but I was a little concerned about finding a place to camp where I could avoid the risk of dead trees falling on me during the night. My original goal was to camp somewhere near the Andrews Creek Trail junction but stopped a half-mile short of that at the Remmel Cutoff Trail junction because that site was so nice and had no burned trees nearby. I couldn't be sure that the campsites another half-mile ahead would be as nice so I figured I should stop while the stopping was good.

Life was good!

The first clear, unobstructed view of Cathedral Peak is jaw-dropping! (The photo really doesn't do it justice. Of course, it never does--but especially so in this case!)

Teapot Dome--not the one the infamous scandal was named for, though!

Another cabin by the tungsten mine
Inside a cabin
I thought this was a cute poem I found in the cabin

Cathedral Peak looks quite a bit different when you're at the bottom of it looking up! And very much looking like a natural cathedral!

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