180 Degrees South

Meg eating box

Meg loves a sure thing. I like taking my chances.

For Meg’s birthday weekend, we headed to a place of spectacular beauty, a sure thing.

We should know since our late August trip to the Goat Rocks Wilderness marked Meg’s fourth visit, my fifth. Though we typically venture to the North Cascades that time of year, I finally relented to her standing request to repeat the Snowgrass Flat loop.

This popular loop horseshoeing the Goat Creek Basin is a gobsmacking volcano and wildflower show. On the effort scale of one to four ibuprofen, give it two pills for the 1,900-ft. gain over13 miles. You can boost vert stats with a side trip up Old Snowy or Hawkeye Point, the latter a great vantage point to peer down into the Goat Lake basin and out north to the Tatoosh Wilderness.

We had optimal weather, cool for the hike in with a warming trend. Clouds dissipated and then it was CAVU, as the pilots say. Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited. Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and a faint Mt. Hood in the far distance contrast with nearby Goat Rocks. When we hiked up to Hawkeye Point, Mt. Rainier popped up and I looked for the familiar peaks of the Tatoosh.

Meg with Rainier

For three sun-kissed days, we enjoyed the high open country, its heather meadows and spray of of lupine, gentian, paintbrush and  bear grass, without bugs. On one of our previous trips, the air was so thick with mosquitoes we sequestered ourselves in our tent where Meg lay engrossed in All The Dirt, a music biography of Motley Crue.

Like good campers, we carried our ten non-essentials including six cans of Brew Free or Die IPA and two birthday cupcakes from Cupcake Royale. Super paleo, dude. (Note that our liberal interpretation of the Paleo regime also encourages consumption of cave-aged Gruyere.)

Meg and Shack

no room

We should have taken climbing helmets for the goat-triggered rockfall. These sure-footed creatures traversed the ridge above our campsite perched on a rock knob and set off a rock shower. Go figure–goats on Goat Ridge on their way to Goat Lake kicking down rocks in the Goat Rocks.

Naturally, we had Shackleton in tow and he carried a pack with kibble and biscuits. He protested at first, acting as if I had placed a giant boulder inside his bags. “Imagine Sisyphus happy,” I told him. I also pointed to other dogs carrying ostensibly greater burdens. He eventually came to enjoy the pack. Dog people will tell you that some dogs really don’t like living off the dole; some dogs, including Shack, really need a job.

I’ll take some ill-behaved goats for a well-behaved dog and a happy birthday girl any day. A sure thing ain’t such a bad thing.


2 responses to “180 Degrees South

  1. The wildflowers at Goat Rocks were incredible this year. Glad you, Meg and the Shack got to enjoy them.

  2. Great essay, Nancy! What a wonderful way to spend a birthday.

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