Bikepacking to 'Bag' Mt. Townsend
The Eastern Peaks of the Olympic Mountain Range tower proudly over the Puget Sound and are clearly visible from Sunset Hill Park near my home in Greenwood. A couple weeks ago I raced my bike west in the evening light of a clear spring night to catch a sunset over the Olympics and sip on a lukewarm Ranger IPA. I hatched a stupid plan: to bag all the peaks visible from this point using my bike. I crushed my beer can against my head, pedaled home and ordered a copy of Olympic Mountains: A Climbing Guide. Despite the fact that I have been climbing mountains at a reasonable standard for the past 12 years, I had never reached the summit of a peak in the Olympics. Might as well make things interesting with the bike, eh?
The original objective for the weekend, the Buckhorn Mountain Traverse was abandoned due to a sick partner, an unseasonably high snow pack and more honestly, too many Friday night beers. A late start and a 60 mile ride culminating with a 3000 foot climb deposited me at the Mnt. Townsend Trailhead in the late afternoon. A quick repack and bike stash found me stomping up the intermittently snow covered trail as the afternoon turned to evening.
As darkness approached and the fog closed in, I found a reasonably flat spot to lay my bag down for the night. Consistent with the classic NW weather inversion, as the the sun went down and the air cooled, the clouds sank into the valleys and left the peaks of the Olympics perched under a clear star-filled night.
I woke to near freezing temperatures at 5 am and booted a path over untrodden snow to the 6,280 foot summit of Mt. Townsend. Despite being one of the most visited summits in the range, today I was alone and felt the solitude I sought pedaling out of the city less than 24 hours before.
I don't know how long it will take me to reach all of my Sunset Park Summits, but I know that I will reach all of them by bike and become a little tougher in the process.
Livin' the Dream,
Tip for this adventure: The view of the Olympics, Cascades, Puget Sound, San Juan Islands and Canada is outstanding from the summit of Mnt. Townsend. Hood Canal Brewery is a great stop for rehydration and pretzels!
Favorite local bike shop: Second Ascent in Ballard, WA.
Check out Matt's blog at www.frontdooradventures.blogspot.com.