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Friday, September 28, 2012

Fortress Mountain - East Ridge, July 2012

Deep in the heart of the Glacier Peak Wilderness, 8760-ft Fortress Mountain is one of the highest non-volcanic peaks in the Washington Cascades. Fortress is an imposing massif with a distinct pyramidal shape, particularly when viewed from the south. At least that is the impression I got when gazing upon it from the summit of Buck Mountain last summer. And for a peak once considered “unscalable from any angle”, first impressions were incentive enough for me to go take a closer look. This closer look entailed a one-day (drive incl.) ascent via the East Ridge and descent via South Slope with a camp at Buck Creek Pass later that evening. Basically a carry-over and camp with merely a 9-mile hike out the following day, returning to the same trailhead we started from the day before. A pleasant outing somewhere in-between a day-trip suffer-fest and weekend-long lollygag…

Friday, September 14, 2012

Plains of Abraham MTB, July 2012

Plains of Abraham, Ape Canyon…whatever you choose to call it, this is a standout among the classic rides our state has to offer. Without question, the highlight entails venturing out onto the surreal pumice plateau (or plains) left behind after the cataclysmic 1980 eruption of Mt. Saint Helens. Like “riding on the surface of the moon” is a common expression used to describe this otherworldly journey through the blast zone. If the scenery isn’t enough to satiate, the ripping Ape Canyon descent will whet your appetite for speed with excellent downhill over smooth and flowy pine needle single-track. And should you prefer loop rides over OAB’s like I do, might I suggest going clockwise with a descent into Smith Creek rather than the other way around? Two to three miles of tedious hike-a-bike up an endless pumice trail is enough to ruin even the best of days. Or you could just ignore my advice and go counter-clockwise starting from Windy Ridge only to turn back 3/4 of the way up Smith and needlessly make a 35+ mile epic out of it as I did.

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