nutter butters on the tubal cain trail
Pal and I headed up to the northeast interior range of the Olympics a couple Saturdays ago for the long walk to Buckhorn Pass on the Tubal Cain trail. He and I were early in the season for the wildflower show which the upper, very long traversing portion of this trail is particularly known for. But it was a distinct delight simply to be alpine and in each other’s company for this day. The exquisite aroma of sun-baked dust and fir never was so good! I still don’t know how we expended so many hours lazing on the tundra. I’m not a habitual watch-wearer so time tends to disappear on me. A dreamy nap rejuvenated me enough for a short side-trip toward Buckhorn Mountain for picture-taking and a short-but-fun glissade on the return. I entertained the idea of going for the summit of Buckhorn, startlingly within reach, but I’d promised Pal I wouldn’t be gone too awful long. The depth of field is strained in the scene above for a little picture on the internet, but this is how I wanted to remember the saddle between the Buckhorn summits. And below you see Pal gathering steam for a final push to Buckhorn Pass (fantasy views of snowcapped mountains). Shortly after the turn-off for Buckhorn Lake, the path folds on itself in the woods before shooting straight up. I was sitting in the grass munching my Nutter Butters but fumbled around for my Nikon to get this. With the exception of my boys I mostly prefer exploring in the mountains alone but I always have a really wonderful time with Pal, he’s twenty years my senior but has the pistons of a zippy, partially-restored convertible sports car (it’s zippy but has to stop at all convenient pull-outs to avoid radiator blow-out). I started the day off imagining I wanted to get a not-too-corny portrait that evoked the same energy and passion that earned him numerous honors over the years as a soccer coach of young men and women. I would’ve preferred to get tighter here but this is generally what I had in mind- a tired but determined soul grinding out another blissful mile in paradise. My feet were unusually sore all the way down to the trailhead that evening. Halfway, the miles piled up on my back like a seventy pound bale of hay and I turned into a shuffling slow-poke. I was so slow I think I got Pal in trouble for getting home too late. At any rate, I was relieved and more happy than you can imagine upon re-crossing Silver Creek, near road 2860! This was a very fine day with Pal and the Olympic Mountains. Postscript: I originally published this for all of five minutes last week before moving it back to the drawing board because I decided my zippy sports car metaphor was kind of dumb and that I should think of something different but I haven’t really had the time and so for future stories about Pal on the trail I’ll come up with something more clever. In addition, I felt too many interesting things were left out about our walk (such as an old mine we explored or the mysterious gold sequin Pal found in his boot). I realize I’m overthinking the heck out of this.