Conversations with the Invisible on a day hike to Mason Lake then climbing up Mt. Defiance in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness of Cascadia
*Click on any picture to expand the foto. Enjoy!*
This is an unfinished work in progress. Feel free to explore what’s already here. Thanks!
Looking down from atop the summit of Mt. Defiance (5584 ft / 1702 m) into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Lake Kulla Kulla is in the lower left. Mason Lake beyond over in the right center. Bandera Mtn rises behind Mason Lake, followed by Pratt & Granite Mountains further back towards center ridge side. Foto by the author. Monday 22 June 2015.
Gazing deeper, steeper from Mt. Defiance into the belly of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
Selfie by a crazy writer hiker as Summer begins. Beard & hair ‘re both grown out a little bit since a few weeks ago hiking up nearby Bandera Mountain. Gosh, I love being out here!
Construction of the new bridge across Mason Creek on the Ira Spring Trail is in progress.
Before the beauty of the backcountry and the hard work of trail crews could be experienced, however, I came face to face with piles of human shit. Dayum! I’d exited off I-90 and was now rumbling down USFS Road 9031. My bladder was about to burst, and I felt the next set of jarring bumps would flood me britches. I quickly pulled my car over and discovered a short path back around thru the bushes and trees alongside the road. Ahhh, relief! But, no, fellow human beings had left behind piles of shit and mounds of arse scrubber paper. Come ON, people! Dig a hole! Bury it! Cover it up! Grab a plastic bag and pack out those tissues and toilet paper! Such clueless idiots! Sigh…there I go being judgmental & opinionated again. No, I did not clean up there mess, in case you were wondering just how shiny was my armor.
Pooping in the woods is out of control. More and more people as well as their pets are moving into the region. Population is growing and expanding and growing worldwide. Some regions of the planet may see a decline in human population, but the numbers show rapid growth in the metropolitan urban corridors of the Cascadian Bioregion. More people are hitting the Great Outdoors without knowing what steps one takes for outdoor sanitation and hygiene. Instead people shit all over the damn place and throw whatever paper products they wipe their asses with helter-skelter to the winds.
POOP!!! And PUH-LEEZ pack out yer butt wipes, too!
If, by the way, you really wanna look at all that crap and toilet paper up close, why, Hell, simply CLICK on the pictures of all that damn shit and blow it up BIG. Yes, ENLARGE it if you wish to behold Humanity’s crudeness.
Ahhh, back on the trail again! On a Monday without crowds, tho plenty o’ cars & trucks back at the TH. New footbridge being built between the once-roaring ledges of now low-water Mason Creek Falls.
Jet contrails over the wilderness, or chemtrails? Gruntin’ up the lower slopes of Bandera Mountain on my way to Mason Lake. 22 June 2015.
Change of perspective.
Ira & his hiking & writing buddy Harvey Manning were fierce environmental activists, prolific authors & fotografers, feisty trail advocates, accomplished outdoor adventurers & wilderness explorers, and are both, sadly enough, dead. This monument of sorts to Ira Spring sits on the ridge near the descent to Mason Lake.
Looking down towards I-90, the South Fork Snoqualmie River Valley, and the Mountains to Sound Greenway.
McClennan (or McClellan’s) Butte rises in the distance to a height of 5162 feet or 1,573 meters. It’s a fun little grunt, too.
Down off the rock ridge & getting closer!
Mason Lake! It’s about 4,200 feet or 1,300 meters in elevation in a normal year, but is rather low during this drought.
Bandera Mountain (5245 ft / 1598 m) looks like a mellow hill here, but the steep, eroded, grunt of a hike with a short, easy scramble towards the end are on the other side out of sight from here.
…Low-lying Pratt Mountain looks more like a hill at 5099 ft / 1554 m, but the climb up is a trail-less, rough, boulder-scramble.
A Mason Lake water strider from the genus Gerridae. These aquatic predators, harmless to humans, are insects, indeed “true bugs.” They are not spiders. 22 June 2015.
Log jams across the outlet where Mason Lake flows into Mason Creek.
Feeling the Sasquatch…as I stare up the lower slopes of Mt. Defiance from Mason Lake.
Mason Lake, one of a gem of an entire wilderness sprinkled with such gems as stars in the nighttime sky. Bandera Mountain above.
Imagining a clan of Alpine Lakes Sasquatch stealthily crouching down to drink in the dark of night. Bigfoot folks do NOT like being fotografed at all. Makes ’em violent, according to some Sasquatch/Bigfoot/Yeti researchers. These mythic giants have been sighted & heard several times in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and in the surrounding areas of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
I did, however, sight wild beargrass plants! Common or Western Beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) is a mountain lily. These beautiful, strong plants are prized by Native American Indians for weaving traditional baskets, cloths, regalia, as well as for medicinal and spiritual purposes.
Beargrass up close.
Beargrass on the edge of a bog slowly drying up & turning into a mountain meadow. This is along the trail from Mason Lake to Mt. Defiance.
I stumble upon a small, unnamed (at least on my Green Trails map) pond halfway between Mason & Little Mason Lakes. I’m off the main Mt. Defiance approach and found myself rambling down an old fisherman’s path. I eventually decided to bushwhack straight uphill to eventually reconnect with the Mt. Defiance trail.
I enjoy discovering little-known byways off the beaten path. So much is ignored, lost, even dismissed in the mad rush to clamber up to those mountain summits.
How thick does the ice become by the coldest time of Midwinter? How many more years will it take before this pond becomes a bog? How many more years before it becomes a meadow? Then woods? How long ago was the pond a lake?
The temperature feels unusually hot for the first day of Summer. This drought has lasted 2-3 years already. What will global warming lead to?
Earth’s star Sol the Sun. The times feel apocalyptic with both global climate disruption & uncertain solar cycles.
Farewell little pond.
Views from between the trees as I bushwhack uphill from the pond.
Glimpses of Lake Kulla Kulla way down thru the forest from the ridge up Mt. Defiance. Maybe my imagination has gone over the cliffs, but my spidey senses tingle with strange sensations of Sasquatches in the area. I telepathically & verbally inform them I shall not deliberately take their picture, and if I do so by accident I’ll erase it. Their weird, inner world, telepathic hum-grunt-hoot-murmuring lessened within my mind.
Traversing along the steep, northern flanks of Defiance.
I just love these open, alpine meadow views!
Love trails like this one, too!
Orange agoseris (Agoseris aurantiaca) grace the alpine foliage already turning autumn-like on the Second Day of Summer 2015.
These purple wildflowers may be a mix of mountain monkshood (Aconitum columbianum) & Menzie’s larkspur (Delphinium menziesii).
Trailside mix of orange asoteris & purple lupines (I’m unable to discern here between Broadleaf (Lupinus latifolius) & Subalpine Lupines (Lupinus articus). Looks as if there’re a few Indian paintbrush flowers in there, too, from the genus Castilleja. Paintbrush flowers are edible.
The white, fluffy plants are usually Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), altho wild carrots such as Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) is considered an invasive species & a noxious weed. The roots are also quite edible altho reputed to be rather chewy with an intense flavor. Hey, try & let the rest of us know what it tastes like, OK?
Those yellow, daisy-like flowers with orange discs are probably Arnica plants.
The large plants are false hellebores (Veratrum viride). They are poisonous as they’re imbued with toxic alkaloids. The Native peoples had many uses for these plants including natural pesticides, fibers for cloth, a number of medicinal uses, and even to make soap.
A small cluster of Tiger lilies or Lilium columbianum.
Looking back at whence I came as I traversed the southern slopes of Mt. Defiance.
Peering way off down into the Valley of the South Fork Snoqualmie River & the I-90 Corridor.
Looking across at Bandera Mountain with Mason Lake nestled in the bowl below.
Zooming in on Mason Lake and Little Mason Lake.
Well, I look happy, and I am happy, LOL! Especially solo in my element the Great Outdoors! I just don’t like to open my mouth when I smile, as after all 4 of my 3rd molars or wisdom teeth were removed a few years back my front teeth began to spread apart. Gawd, where did those bug-eyed Robocop old granny sunglasses come from? A drugstore. To wear over my spectacles, LOL! Sigh, aging… lol
I’m only a mere 56 years young here, and my beard is already snow white in places. Not much red & auburn left, LOL!
Turned my head thissaway & thattaway. I just can’t get these damn selfies right!
Traversing the slopes of Mount Defiance.
I feel as if I’m in Heaven. I love this planet, this Planet Earth.
To the West curls the sharp steeps of Defiance Ridge. A trail scoots along the slopes just below the ridgetops with little scramble routes up.
Gazing across the valley corridor at McClellan Butte and, further in the distance lost in the clouds, Mt. Rainier. Named after a British admiral at war with the rebellious American colonies prior to becoming the United States, The Mountain is also known as Tahoma (Great Snowy Mountain) and Ti’Swaq (Sky Wiper).
Zooming in on McClellan Butte & its avalanche chutes.
Zooming closer at Defiance Ridge.
The trail continues on down to the gap & then across the north face of Defiance Ridge, skirting the summit ridgeline, to eventually reach Thompson Lake and the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River. Someday I’ll have to explore those areas. I did meet a het couple in their 60s chugging their way from that direction and on down to the Ira Spring TH to a shuttle vehicle.
Back towards Mason Lake & the Ira Spring Trail.
Forward down & over towards Defiance Ridge & Thompson Lake.
Up to the tippity top of Mt. Defiance, 5,584 feet or 1,702 meters.
I felt in awe of such seemingly fragile beauty growing so well in such a harsh, exposed environment.
Views from the summit.
More views from the summit.
Too sunny, hot, & dry for so early in the season! These lush & already drying out slopes are usually somewhat snow covered this time of year.
The Alpine Lakes Wilderness is immense and within an hour’s drive or less from the megatropolis along Puget Sound & around Lake Washington. The Cascade Mountains, while shorter than many other ranges on average, are ferocious & jagged peaks. They won my heart over decades ago.
Looking down into Lake Kulla Kulla (3,765 ft) & wondered why there weren’t any trails to such a significant & beautiful lake. Yes, the shorelines are steep. Still… I can sense Sasquatch down in the forest…watching…waiting…moving as shadows peel apart among the trees then come together upon the rocks.
Lake Kulla Kulla…
Yeah, looking at you, Selfie Man!
Do I look like our alleged Sasquatch cousins with hairy big feet yet?
Dreams of Sasquatch
This is an unfinished work in progress. Feel free to explore what’s already here. Thanks!
William Dudley Bass
Monday 30 October 2017
Bass, William Dudley. “The Lost Creek Monster,” On Earth at the Brink. 2013, 2016: http://williamdudleybass.com/lost-creek-monster.
“Day Hike – Mount Defiance,” The Mountaineers: https://www.mountaineers.org/explore/activities/day-hike-mount-defiance-42.
“Ira Spring Trail – Mason Lake,” Washington Trails Association: http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/ira-spring-memorial.
“Leave No Trace,” Pacific Crest Trail Association: https://www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/backcountry-basics/leave-no-trace/.
Meyer, Kathleen. “How to Shit in the Woods, 3rd Edition: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art,” Amazon. 1989, 2011: https://www.amazon.com/How-Shit-Woods-3rd-Environmentally-ebook/dp/B004OR1KWC.
“Mount Defiance,” Summit Post: http://www.summitpost.org/mount-defiance/151438.
“Mount Defiance/Snoqualmie Region,” Washington Trails Association: http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/mount-defiance.
Copyright © 2017 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.