motorcycles, mountain bikes and horseshit on green mountain

This afternoon I hiked to the top of Green Mountain, the second-highest point on the Kitsap Peninsula (west across the Sound from Seattle). I made a laid back five-mile loop out of a couple different trails. It’s a thousand feet to the top- much of the surrounding terrain is state-owned forestland scabby with clearcuts and big swaths of young replanted woods. The Gold Creek Trail all the way up offers mostly pleasant woods walking with no views to speak of until the top. The Beaver Pond-to-Plummer Trail circuit on the way down is nice for fairly interesting westerly views through an old clearcut, the eastern front of the Olympic Mountains is framed by tall, skinny firs given amnesty from the chainsaws. Gold Creek, at the beginning of the hike, looks like it could be a nice diversion by itself- there are lots of scenic tiny “waterfalls” in a dark ravine.

Not feeling particularly energetic going into the weekend, I actually enjoyed this walk! I’ll admit, I kept my expectations low. The proper mindset is key to appreciating the charms of motorcycle fumes and racket- Green Mountain is a true multi-use recreation area. Motorcycles, mountain bikes, horses, Sherman tanks, bulldozers, AT AT walkers…..they’re welcome with open arms here! It’s not a place where you’re going to run into Bigfoot, let’s put it that way. I only saw two motorcycles, not bad chaps at all who slowed way down for me and nodded as we crossed paths. They were on their way down. Frankly, I don’t understand the appeal of the Gold Creek trail for off-roaders (it sounds like more of them may spend their time on the Wildcat Lake trail, on the other side of the mountain). With all the bipeds around, I would think it could be a royal pain in the behind to constantly be stopping and starting on the narrow trail for people and their dogs. Because the whole point of dirt biking is to tear ass and throw dirt, right? Nevertheless, the fumes of engine exhaust linger in the air when the sound does not. Rutted tire tracks in the mud are a constant reminder to stay alert and vigilant around corners, especially when you’re hiking without your hearing aid on (it really is a pretty easy hike but I kept a brisk pace on the way up to burn off my breakfast calories). There were a dozen horse trailers at the trailhead and fresh horse poop all the way up and down Green Mountain but I didn’t see a single horse all day long. There was one group of teenage mountain bikers but I was in the bushes going pee when they whizzed past.

The summit view on top of Green Mountain was far more distant than I imagined it would be- Downtown Seattle is miniature. I was using the little Nikon D5100 I got for kayaking and with the old D50’s 50-200 kit lens on the front, getting the autofocus to pick up downtown through the haze was practically impossible. All the same, I was very pleased with this new vantage of Bremerton and Puget Sound and Seattle. I’m fascinated by Bremerton. It starts with the trees. It feels more Pacific Northwest-y than at home, the firs are darker and more brooding. And I like how the town is tucked away from Seattle and the ferry can’t just zip across like the boat to Bainbridge. On my way down the Plummer trail, as I was traversing the big clearcut that offers views of the Olympics, I came across a fallen log on which someone had carved with a knife: horse shit logging.

I took the 4:20 Bremerton ferry home. A friend of mine lives on a hill above the ferry terminal, I stopped at his house first to drop off a book he let me borrow. We talked about going up the Sol Duc sometime soon. I wished there’d been more time so I could’ve picked up a snack from Noah’s Ark- they have good pizza burgers.  I boarded the Kaleetan with only a few minutes to spare. Kaleetan, which means arrow in native Chinook, is also the name of a mountain at Snoqualmie Pass that I’ve tried and failed (twice) to reach the top of. Perhaps this year I’ll finally steel my nerves. At any rate, the 55 minute sailing to home was relaxing. I walked around on the sun deck while consulting Robert Steelquist’s very excellent Ferryboat Field Guide to Puget Sound.

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