Monday, November 17, 2014

Winchester Mountain

On August 30 my brother, Tim, was in the area for work and wanted to go hiking.  It was a wet and cloudy day, but we decided to go anyway and chose Winchester Mountain, one of our favorite hikes, as our destination.  Our youngest son, Edward, went as well and the three of us were on the trail before 8:00 am, after getting up early and driving the rather rough forest service road to Twin Lakes and the trailhead.

The weather did not improve, and in fact, it started to rain not long after we left, but we had a good hike nevertheless, and the mountains were spectacular through the mist and clouds.  We did not actually hike up to the top of Winchester Mountain but around its east shoulder on the High Pass trail, at the end of which we also visited the old abandoned Gargett Mine site, before heading back to the car and back home.

We started our hike by Twin Lakes, leaving our car at the trailhead.

It was obvious at the trailhead that the wildflowers were at their peak.
These are the Great Purple Monkey Flower and Red-stemmed Saxifrage.

It was also soon obvious that the weather was not going to improve.

The wildflowers were at their best near the top of the first ascent.
We saw the Cluster Thistle and Fringed Grass of Parnassus,
along with many other wildflowers.

Most of the surrounding peaks were hidden in the clouds.

There were a lot of Anemone seedheads.
For obvious reasons the seedhead is known as the Old Man of the Mountains.

As we descended slightly around the should of Winchester Mountain
we could see the Silesia Creek valley below us.

 The trees were partially obscured by the mist and those near us were bejeweled with drops.

We stopped there to photograph some wildflowers,
including Cascades Asters, Purple Monkeyflowers, and Red Columbine,
along with unripe Mountain ash berries and a caterpillar.

Everything was soaking wet, but that only made it more beautiful
(the flowers are the Magenta Columbine).

Arriving at High Pass we could see some Mountain Goats on a distant slope
but were unable to get any pictures.

At High Pass we descended to the west toward Gargett Mine.

We found more Grass of Parnassus and lots of blueberries and huckleberries.

The creek near the mine was the source of water when the mine was operating.
There was still some snow there though it was the end of August.

At the mine we explored the old mine shaft and the remnants of mining equipment left there.

Gargett Mine was a gold mine that produced very little gold
during the few years of its operation in the 1930's.

 Then it was the hike back out.

With the fog and clouds moving in and out the views were spectacular,
and the wildflowers were wonderful

Back at Twin Lakes we left just as it started to rain hard.

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