Lime Ridge Fools
~ Glacier Peak from Lime Ridge ~
Glacier Peak Twilight - Da Kobed © Ken James McLeod
Lime Ridge Fools: Like the fools we were in those days when undertaking a wilderness trek into the mountains in search of adventure, we thought little of planning too much ahead. Often, we just grabbed our day gear which usually contained fishing rods, a map, and said to one another, "lets go!" And the trek up Box Mountain onto Lime Ridge was no exception, beginning in a hurry and in the wee hours of dawn. Off we went, my friend Martin Jensen and I in his Toyota pickup truck with grand weather in sight . . . The way was steep up Box, most of it "tooth and root" so to speak or as I like to say, "steeper than the back side of Gods head!" Upward, we pulled and pushed ourselves hand over fist, for it was not a trail of sorts one could walk, it was a climb! We were in good shape having hiked about the country during the early summer, so in a few short hours we topped out at Box Mountain Lake, then paused and while we had a snack. Here, the zest for further adventure took over and we wandered along the ridge to Rivord Lakes, where upon on arrival we dove into the first lake to cool off from the now 80 degree heat.
"Onward," Martin said.Soon, we found ourselves at the Twin Lakes where another swim was had in the 62 degree emerald-green water. It couldn't get any better than here at the Twin's, basking in the sun and swimming, but we had to go onto the Milk Lakes. You know, "the lure of what lies around the corner in the mountains is just too great to ignore." So, without much hesitation, we were off to the Milk's. Again, the heat of the day was too much and when we arrived at the lakes, we just dove in. "What bliss, swimming in mountain lakes, and yes nude!" From Milk Lakes, we traversed up the ridge a mile or so where there was a beautiful little pothole lake or tarn. It sat in a rather picturesque setting overlooking Milk Creek, the Suiattle River Valley, Sulphur Mountain, and well in view of the mighty Glacier Peak. Scrambling here and there for photos, we crested the ridge and dipped down to the last lake on Lime. But Lo, the damn bitting bugs simply chased our ass out and back up to the crest to the lovely little tarn. Now, time was waning and we were still at about 6,000 feet, even the alpenglow began to paint Glacier Peak a vivid pink. "Martin, we need to get the Hell out of here, daylight will soon be waning," I said. So we circumvented the ridge above, where the sight of Glacier Peak stood boldly in our face. Mica Lake on the shoulders of Glacier would have to wait for another day. It was now after 6:00 PM, so down the forested rib we rushed into the untracked forest, only to get caught in darkness at around 5,000 feet elevation. Onward we struggled, foot by foot, hand hold by hand hold, engulfed in the dark abyss . . . every 1,000 feet took hours. Like idiots, we had no flashlight, what fools we were, say I! I pretty much led and Martin was content to follow, me being the freakin' mountain goat as it were with the Swiss-welt 5 lb. boots I wore. And being the wild-young fearless fools that we were, rather than spending the night on a bench, we proceeded onward thrashing about. Then, Martin fell down a slippery chute about 30 feet, and as I watched his faint figure roll out of sight, I thought he was a goner! Luckily he wasn't too hurt, only brused and battered a bit, but nothing broken. We continued on the last 1,000 feet and then finally the steep terrain leveled out. Alas though, our good fortune again turned to nightmare, now we were in a jungle of nettles that ate us alive, not to mention the slide alder and vine maple brush we had to bust through. "Shit," here we were in the middle of some God awful fricken jungle waring only shorts with no long pants to protect our legs from being ravaged. I kept thinking, "this is just like the Army escape/evasion crap I'd been through in the Missouri swamps training during the Vietnam War era a few years earlier." At any rate, we crashed and thrashed through the jungle of nettles, slide alder and vine maple using only the stars as our guide and our nose for radar, until we stumbled upon the Milk Creek Trail. And just as we did, the moon came out overhead and helped guide our way back to where we had started the trek. Four miles later, and what seemed eternity, we finally reached Martin's truck. Martin had done well after the fall but was somewhat woozy, so I drove. It was now 2:00 AM. We had come down 4,000 feet in total darkness, did 4 miles of trail, not to mention the entire trek up and across the ridge during the day . . . now, we were at the end of our rope! Later, in the town of Arlington, we stopped for hot cocoa and a tidbit from the 7-11 store. A local cop there took one look at us and began to question us, perhaps thinking we looked like escapees or something, because of how ragged and torn up we appeared. He also insulted us by the way we had parked and made us go back out and park properly in the lot. Nevertheless, we did what was asked, but Martin and I both got gruff with him, stating we were in no mood to talk, having been through such a mountain ordeal, and we just wanted something hot to drink. Promptly, we paid for our tidbit and Martin took over the wheel now feeling much better to do so. Seattle, where we lived, came at about 4:00 AM!
What an experience! "Did we learn anything?" Well, "Hell Yes!"
1. Don't go into the mountains without having a flashlight.
2. Stay put in the dark rather than risk your life.
3. And don't be such Goddamned Fools!
Aug. 13, 1981
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