Humbled by the Mountains

I was having a hard time mentally, even weeks after my rescue. What could I have done differently? Is all I could think about while replaying my actions over and over in my head. The weather on the Olympic Peninsula was also above average the month of August and I knew I should be out in the mountains. Not moping around with a wounded foot.

A lot of my dreams and reflections were asphyxiated around Lake Ben. It is what I stared at the most, while awaiting rescue. Wanting so bad at that time to touch the lake, knowing I would be safe once there and not cliffed out on the ledge.

Having 3 days to kill before I was to be meeting a group for a 7 day loop trip into the Olympic Mountains. I would have many miles to walk and some rugged ground to cover to get to the destination in the time allotted.


Editor's Note: Article part of an extended trek in the Olympic Mountains.

o'neal
Revisiting O'Neal Peak, point of my helicopter rescue.  





  This would be my first time alone in the wilderness, since being helicoptered off a cliff band. I was having some insecure feelings about the trip, but knew the wilderness would heal. Paying my respects and meditation would have to be done from that location; before I could move forward with my personal backpacking journey.

  Once again Duct Tape and Super Glue on my foot to get it trailworthy. I was out the door with my GG Kumo on my back on a spirit quest to visit the peak that humbled me. Did not even look at the weather report, knowing I would go no matter what.




upper duckabush
The first 22 miles walking up the Duckabush was not fun at all, lots of heavy rain, flooded trail and I was constantly wet from head to toe (pun).  Randomly ran into some readers in the valley below, that was a real morale booster.  It's nice to hike for a purpose and that is YOU reading these words.  Rather grumpy from getting hammered with rain, my spirits were instantly lifted at the first sign of Olympic alpine views.
mount duckabush
Mount Duckabush.
Lacrosse Basin
Calming views, in between rain storms.
Mount Steal
Mount Steal hiding in the clouds.
moisture on moss
One of the beauties of off trail is that you get to see lot more little things - that-is if you stop and take the time to look around.
Lake Ben
Shortly after leaving the trail, reached a point in the traverse that gave a first look at Lake Ben.  While I was awaiting rescue, looking across the valley to this lake is one of  the things that kept my mind at peace; as I sat on a 45 degree ledge.  I wanted more that anything to go touch its waters.  Now was my chance.

lake ben
View from my place of meditation.  Point of rescue seen in the distance from Lake Ben.
lupine
Lupine showing signs that winter is near.
black bear
I had originally planned to stay the night next to Lake Ben, but looking at the black wall of incoming weather, decided to double back to the trial.  Didn't feel like sidehilling on steep and slippery landscape the next morning.  On my way out, a familiar face greeted me out of the basin. 
barefoot jake o'neal peak
Saying goodbye to a new friend.
Marmot Lake
No sooner than I got my shelter pitched back at Marmot Lake, then the rain started to pick up.  Looks like its dinner in bed tonight.  The next morning the rain stopped enough for me to pack away my things and head for the trialhead.  Only 22 more miles, I will be eating cheeseburgers for the next hot meal.  Going into full hiker mode, did not snap one picture this day.


Rain falling in the Olympic Mountains









Part of the 'Walking through the Seasons' Trail Series
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Updated in May 2016 by Barefoot Jake