Solosteve and I co-lead another Mountaineer Conditioning Hike (CHS), planning a loop starting from the Johnson-Medra Trail, Jungle Creek trail, Koppen Mountain trail and back to the Johnson Medra trail.
It was kind of an odd day, all in all. We didn't complete the loop. One of our friends and companions got spooked by the exposure on the Koppen Mountain stretch of the hike so after some dithering as to split up the group or not, we all turned around and hiked back the way we came.
As for the trails -- we started out from the N. Teanaway Road on the Johnson-Medra trail but this time we turn off (left) onto the Jungle Creek trail rather than continue to Medra Pass as we did recently. Incidentally that stretch used to be called the Johnson Creek trail - no more, I guess. Jungle Creek is well-named -- it is just like, er uh -- a jungle on the lower stretch of the trail. Lots of head-high vegetation and late-summer flowers including fireweed and asters.
We made good time to the junction for the Way Creek Trail and took a break in the shade. Then continued on the Way Creek trail to the Koppen/Way Creek junction. That stretch of trail is in good shape with minor undulating ups and downs, views of Mount Stuart.
At the junction we continued on the Koppen Mt trail -- it was hot so we took our time. The trail is not the best -- in places, steep and crumbly with some exposure. Quite a few flowers still on this stretch including a couple we could not identify.
HINT: Can anyone identify the red/white flower?? Can't find it in the field guides, not even Pojar.
We knew one of our friends sometimes has trouble with exposure but the friend seemed to be doing pretty well but just as Solosteve and I thought we were in the clear, our friend was in trouble, really got spooked.
Having not scouted out the trail in its entirety we finally agreed we'd all go back the way we came. Some members of our party wanted to complete the loop but again, I wasn't happy with splitting up the group so we went back.
By the way, there were tons of butterflies along the trail, some of them thought we were big flowers (with our colorful packs). I caught a glimpse of a mostly yellow bird with some red on his head -- one of the warblers I suspect but was not able to get a photo.
Back at the trailhead nobody could agree on where to eat (there were 3 cars of us). Some of our group wanted a more upscale restaurant than The Cottage Cafe (Solosteve and I love the Cottage Cafe), some wanted to go to the Sunset Cafe, some wanted to stop at the hamburger stand.
We finally all agreed to meet at the hamburger stand but the other 2 cars sped by as Solosteve and I were standing in line to order our grub. Then, our two passengers had no cash - the hamburger stand wouldn't accept a credit card so we also had to stop at Safeway so our passengers could get some grub to eat in the car on the way back.
Finally back on the road after a less than perfect day, we hit a major traffic jam on I-90 near North Bend. We got off at Exit 34 -- we wanted to go into the gas station, get a cold drink and use the bathroom but there were about a million cars there so we drove to the Little Si trailhead and used that facility. Then we enjoyed a scenic drive through North Bend, Fall City, etc. back to Preston. From Preston the interstate was clear, no traffic problems at all.
An "interesting" day, all said and done. About 10 miles round trip with 2,200 feet of gain.
-------------- stay together, learn the flowers, go light - from Turtle Island, Gary Snyder
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