Tag Archives: hiking

The Kings-Elks traverse and a new focus

I had it built up in my mind. I’d gotten to the top of Kings mountain in the coastal range before and the thought of encountering the same sheer drop terrain on the downhill and then traversing over to Elks and heading up again…and then down again…made my knees hurt just thinking about it.

kingselks2

But as you well know at this point, something about being miserable in the woods appeals to me. I’d set out to do the route that boasted 4600 feet of elevation gain over 11 miles once before but shit was falling apart in my life at the time and I aborted the hike to hang out with my dying dog instead.

It was time. Because I’d found the thing.

A little more than a month prior to this little adventure (which was several weeks ago because I am stellar at timely updates) I’d undergone a little experiment. I’d gotten sick one week and because I was tired and achy, had stayed away from my phone. And felt so damn good mentally that I decided to extend that a little longer. But then the little voice-the same one that told me to start running almost five years ago and then you know, turned my entire world upside down and now I’ve moved halfway across the damn country to go run in the mountains-piped up with a little idea. What if in addition to less screen time, I also got into the woods every day for that 30 days instead? How would my brain feel then? How would my body feel?

I often wonder where our little inner voice gets these ideas and if there is some sort of catalyst that causes them to pop into our brain and why some I listen to and some I don’t.

And also how it’s possible that this tiny little voice can casually throw out this idea to go for a run around the block or put the phone down for 30 days and that somehow changes everything.

When those 30 days were up, I’d put 100 miles on my legs. I’d explored more of the state I’ve come to call home. I’d accumulated approximately 15,000 feet of elevation gain. I’d read 9 books. I felt the delicious, satisfying fatigue of a mission accomplished. But most importantly, I found a direction after wandering around a little aimlessly for the past year.

Don’t get me wrong, wandering is a great thing to do. There is something so freeing about picking a trail, any trail, and going until you feel like turning around and then going home to eat an entire plate of nachos. I’d probably needed the time as well to get adjusted to the move and my new job, our new home. I needed time to learn my routines, to feel a sense of stability underneath my feet. It’s hard to fly if you don’t have a stable jumping off point.

It’s not lost on me that this little experiment started a year after I’d moved here either. Cycles. They are a thing.

kingselks1

So what’s the next big thing for me? I am going to attempt to summit 50 peaks throughout Oregon and Washington in 2 years. It’s a tight timeframe-especially considering many of the peaks are inaccessible in the winter (or accessible to someone way more versed in mountain climbing than me). And some are going to require major training, the kind that requires ice axes and rope skills, as well as cohorts to do this with. There are peaks I’m nervous about and peaks that I think are going to suck. I’m taking it really seriously. And I’m so excited.

kingselks3

But back Kings-Elks. Sometimes I do this thing when I’m nervous about something where I imagine it’s just going to be the worst thing ever. And then when it’s not, because most things aren’t ever as bad as the worst thing you can imagine, then it’s a nice surprise. That was Kings-Elks for me.

Okay. One down, 49 more to go.

Advertisements

I’ve been roaming

I recently spent 30 days almost entirely off social media. And during those 30 days, I spent some time almost every day in the nature.

This was not planned. Over a long weekend when I was at the tail end of a particularly stubborn sinus infection and completely over feeling like crap, I found myself outdoors several days in a row and mostly away from my phone. I welcomed the marked reduction in my anxiety levels. Like many, I live by my phone and specifically by my social media apps. Facebook and Instagram are how I stay connected with friends and family, especially since I moved across the country a year ago. They are my news sources. Hurricane Harvey was still stubbornly hanging over Houston and we have family in the area. The political arena was as contentious as ever. I felt obligated to worry over, understand and comment on every event in our country. I was tired, overwhelmed and now more aware of it because my body was tired and worn down.

The sinus infection that gave me a reason to rest and put down my phone may have started this little experiment but once I was back to 100%, I wondered what would happen if I continued the trend. With work and home life, could I even find time to get in the woods every day? And how would my body handle it? I’ve had knee and foot problems off and on since I started running and hiking 4 years ago-would i be physically able to sustain a daily practice, even if I took it easy?

So I did the one thing I’ve found that works for me when I’m uncertain or scared about moving forward, I just told myself that I’d just see how far I could get and if I needed to quit or take a rest day I could. This takes the pressure off of a brain that very much feels an obligation to finish and check off to do lists. And the point was not necessarily to stick to an admittedly arbitrary schedule just for the sake of the schedule, it was to see what happened when I made consistently more time for the outdoors and less time for the screen. 

Here’s what happened:

  1. I read 8 books (and actually finished a 9th the day after my official 30 days was up)
  2. I put approximately 100 miles on my legs and accumulated somewhere in the neighborhood of 15,000 feet of elevation gain
  3. I started a poetry project that I’m calling Words Hewn-every time I step into nature I take a photo and write a poem inspired by that experience. The goal is to continue this for a year and see how many I accumulate. Still figuring out if I want to post it somewhere or not.
  4. I was in nature in some form or fashion-from local nature parks or gardens to 7000 feet above sea level on wind swept ridge lines-for 29 of the 30 days (I took one day off when my body gave me the very clear message that I needed a damn break).
  5. My husband and I spent more time together in nature. Normally my weekend excursions are done alone as he is not a masochist and doesn’t enjoy spending 5 hours trudging uphill. However, increased frequency meant I often needed to decrease intensity (though I still indulged in a few sufferfests-old habits and all that). And since the goal was to get outdoors every day instead of my usual schedule of 3-4 days a week, I had many more opportunities to get outside in a variety of ways. We explored a state park, a trail in the Tillamook State Forest, a local nature park and Portland’s beautiful Japanese garden, in addition to our usual haunts. There was more time spent walking and talking and I feel more connected to him than I have in a long time. I also noticed that he seemed to put his phone down more once he saw I wasn’t reaching for mine at every lull in conversation or commercial break though I never asked him to or made an issue of it. Which led to more discussion or just being with each other in shared space.     
  6. I realized I feel like I haven’t learned anything new in a long time and I want to change that. So far I’ve found an online naturalist program (like a continuing education sort of thing) that starts in a few months, started reading about the history and geology of the area and am contemplating all manner of classes-from how to set rock climbing anchors to wildlife biology.
  7. When I got free of all the clutter, I found I was able to get more engaged in the world and what was going and ready to be more involved since I wasn’t feeling so overwhelmed and helpless due to a barrage of information, opinions and issues.

On the flip side, I also missed really important happenings in my friend’s lives-family deaths, wedding announcements, job changes, moves-not to mention the regular, normal, happy interactions I have with friends.

But when I first checked instagram after the 30 days were up, I immediately felt a wave of anxiety and the old comparison monster. Thoughts of: I’m not cool enough, I’m not doing enough, I’m not invited all tsunami’d through my head. Maybe I’d been so used to being inundated with social media that I didn’t notice it much before but the thoughts felt loud and sharp. Then I wondered: does my Instagram feed make someone feel that way? and immediately cringed at that thought. 

I’m posting this on a media platform because I want people to read it because I feel a need to share and be seen. What I’m realizing is I want to be a little more thoughtful and intentional in how I do that in a way where I can still be my snarky, ridiculous self. And also how I want to consume social media and connect with others. 

More to come but for now, just a few of my favorite shots over the last 30 days:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Trail truths on the Cooper Spur

It was a shitty hike. There are a lot of things I could probably blame for it: a restless night of sleep, an even earlier than my usual ass o’clock wake up call, more altitude, more exposure, more wildfire smoke turning the horizon to opaque haze. I won’t though because it could have been a flat trail on a clear day at sea level after waking with the sun well rested and I still could have had a shitty hike.

Sometimes it’s just like that.

I say that now of course, it’s hilariously dramatic in my head as I’m chugging my way up the trail though. Oh the challenges I have to epically overcome. The first draft of this post was equally emo.

Sometimes I’m just like that.

The truth is, sometimes I would like to be better, faster, stronger. More adept at elevation, more versed in the mountains, less prone to injury. I wish I wasn’t so hung up on getting out on the trail because that would mean it wouldn’t be so crazy making when I can’t. I wish I was as passionate about something that came easier to me than this thing that I can struggle with so much sometimes.

This is actually one of the shorter excursions I’ve taken in awhile at about 6.5 miles round trip but also one of the more challenging. It’s pretty much entirely uphill with about the last mile off trail and picking your way over rocks without even the benefit of switch backs.

You start at the Cloud Cap trail head which is at the end of 8 miles of crappy gravel road and the skeletons of trees turned white by a forest fire, 5800 feet up the mountain. There’s a chemical toilet there, in a building with a door that locks and actual toilet paper, something I legit said a prayer of thanks out loud to baby Jesus.

From the trailhead, you’ll see Timberline trail in front of you, Tilly Jane to your left and then Timberline continuing downhill to your right. Go straight ahead on Timberline and make sure you fill out a form at the box as you enter into the Mt. Hood Wildnerness.

This trail is almost entirely uphill and that starts the minute you hit the trees before coming into Tilly Jane canyon then continuing to climb uphill through soft volcanic sand that is the bane of my existence. You will not see shade again until you are at this point on the way back to your car so stay on top of your hydration. Soon you’ll come to a junction with a sign for Cooper Spur. Go right onto Cooper Spur trail. The trail increases the incline a bit and the sun will be hitting your shoulder blades with all it’s might. Sun protection is key here.

cooper1

Soon you’ll come up Cooper Spur shelter, which has apparently stood for 70 years and somehow continues to survive the elements. Onward you go, the trail switchbacking and continuing to climb, sometimes following the ridge line that will give you incredible views of the glacier.

cooper2

cooper3

All those wishes swarmed between my ears as the trail disappeared into a field of talus and scree and I started just picking the most direct route I could to hit the top of the spur.

Finally, finally, a deep breath as I top out and stand for a moment at the highest point on the mountain you can reach by trail.

In front of me, a stone circle, about thigh high and a large rock cairn. Buzzards circled overhead. I remember joking with a runner friend during a trail race that they probably smelled us and thought something was dead and thinking it was probably true at that moment as well. To my left, the magnificent Elliot glacier. Behind me, the spur dipped down from the point I was standing on to form a saddle between my feet and the terrifying north face of Mt. Hood. I followed it down for a bit and then felt that moment where I became unbound from my body and was no longer all the stories I tell myself.

I’m like that too.

And I think that’s the trick of all of this. To figure out how to live with all the contradictions that reside within you without the labels of good or bad, dark or light. Somehow we need all of it to carry us up the trail.

*

Trail head: Cloud Cap

Elevation at start: 5850 feet

Length: 6.4 miles (ish)

Elevation gain: 2800 feet

Difficult: Yes

Mt Hood Meadows: a dramatic recreation

I’m alone on trails a lot.

And the aloneness is bigger the higher up the mountain I go.

I mean this literally but I think it is true of all our journeys, the ones that lead us up the corporate ladder or deep within ourselves.

At some point, maybe we all have to break from what we know.

Stand alone on our mountain tops.

Our soul so round and full it seems to press against the sky but the body of us, still an insignificant speck on shaky talus. Meant for ridge lines only wide enough for one person to traverse.

The truth is, sometimes it really bothers me. I am blessed with great friends and a fantastic husband but to do the things I want to do, there has to be a drive and a passion for it and their passions lie elsewhere. Plus not everyone thinks sore IT bands, hours in the heat or rain or cold, dehydration and double digit miles are a good time. Apparently. So up the trail by myself I go.

******************************************************************

I am alone on trails a lot.

And it is the fullest and freest I ever feel. The most complete. The most comfortable with myself. There are no labels, no schedules, no expectations.

I am not even a separate body on the trail, I am just as much the sky and rock and water as I am anything.

The ‘I’ of me disappears because it is meaningless, a construct I have to act out during business hours. Does that mean that I found God?

hood meadows2.JPG

********************************************************************

Both of those experiences are true and real. Both are ones I’ve had many times, sometimes within a mile of each other. Hell, 5 minutes of each other. Both have been on my mind since I did the Hood River Meadows excursion. It’s right at 10 miles and starts at 4k-ish feet up the mountain and climbs another 2000-ish from there. You see wild flowers and waterfalls, cross mountain streams and spend a good deal of it on in the sun on the Timberline Trail.

It is the epitome of why I moved here.

hood meadows1.JPG

But you don’t really get to decide how your body and brain are going to respond on any given day on the trail so I spent my morning conflicted- lonely and free, unsure and completely at home.

It’s been a week and I still haven’t resolved how I feel about the time I spend by myself on the trail. The trail has given me enough patience to just be conflicted and know the answer I need will come soon enough.

But if you decide on this particular hike, I’d like you to not be conflicted about where you are so I offer a few extra details not included in the link I used above:

  1. When you cross the bridge at Umbrella falls, the trail will appear to go straight ahead or to your left. Go left. The path straight ahead just allows you a better look at falls from above.
  2. As noted in the link, you will soon cross a paved road and pick up the trail on the other side. The trail entrance is small and inconspicuous (and had a car parked in front of it when I was on it) so it’s easy to miss. It is just to the right of the gated parking lot and has a pole in front of it. It will kind of look like an animal trail but it’s the right place to be.
  3. When you come down into Clark Canyon (that’s the talus-y, grey, rock strewn moonscape you’ll hit about 6 miles in) the trail will peter out at the creek. Look for the set of cairns that I assume give you the approximate place to cross the river (like most of the rivers and streams you will cross, there’s no bridge). I actually crossed a little downstream from that area. Use your best judgment.
  4. Once on the other side of Clark Creek, look for the pile of rocks with the stick in the middle of them and then look to your right to see the trail climbing up the ridge. Yes, ‘look for the pile of rocks with the stick in them’ is an official direction.
  5. Once at the top of the ridge, you’ll see Newton Creek on the left. The directions on the website said I would turn off on to Newton Creek trail but I didn’t turn off on to a separate trail once I crossed at Clark Creek. I was just on Newton Creek trail. To be fair, this point is the one I am least sure of because runner brain was in full effect by that point.
  6. Regardless, follow the trail with Newton Creek on your left and it will soon connect with Elk Meadow Trail which will take you back to your car.

hood meadows3hood meadows4

Trail Stats:

Trail head

Length-10 miles

Elevation gain-a smidge over 2K feet

Bathroom sitch-porta potty with no toilet paper. Prepare accordingly.

Tom Dick and Harry Mountain

So yeah it’s been a rough few weeks.

But writing out last week’s post allowed for some closure and I was ready to do some exploring.

First, a word on how I decided which trail to explore: I dunno. Whatever sounds good and fits within whatever I’m feeling for mileage and elevation gain.

And something in the Mt Hood National Forest sounded good.

The good thing about the trailhead is that it’s right off highway 26 right before you hit Government Camp. This also makes it a popular spot, especially since about half way up you hit mirror lake which is one of those spots so picturesque it doesn’t even seem real. So get up and get your coffee early to get ahead of the crowds.

mthood3.JPG

seriously

It starts switchbacking through old growth forest fairly early on but since you gain about 1700 feet in about 3-ish miles, the grade is enough to get your lungs working but not make you feel like you want to punch yourself in the face.

I started thinking about labels as I continued my uphill trek. I like labels. I like defined situations and starts, middles and ends. I like plans and bullet points and steps. The last four years of trail running/exploring/climbing have taught me more flexibility but it is still a default setting to seek defined parameters in most aspects of my life. Especially when life feels unsteady.

What was on my mind that morning was who and what I am these days. You know, nothing major. When I found trail running, I found not only a missing part of myself, I found an identity and a community. Thanks to a knee injury that’s sort of been up and down for awhile now, there’s been periods of no running and now a sort of mixed bag of running/hiking/shuffling that has me trailing behind most runners but outpacing most hikers and doesn’t really seem to allow room for me to fit comfortably into either category or community. And the truth is, I don’t know if I will ever race again, something that at one point was pretty damn important to me.

I was contemplating all this just past the lake when the trail gets less switch back-y and more gradual uphill grade. The trees gave way to slide of talus and Mt. Hood came into view. Maybe one day I’ll stop being amazed by the sight of mountains looming over me but…actually I hope that never happens. I stopped and breathed and smiled, loop in  my head broken for the moment.

mthood1

A little further up the trail, you hit a big pile of rocks that I’m sure has some sort of purpose or meaning. Look for the arrow that will have you hanging a sharp left and continue on. Once you’ve reached that point, you probably have a half mile to go before topping out on a talus-y, treeless peak. From there you can see Hood looming large with St Helens and Adams on either side, Rainer peaking out in the back and Jefferson in the other direction. It was brilliantly sunlit and blue and open on the peak. I feel weightless in that environment. Groundless and floaty.

mthood2

But not unsteady, despite the lack of definitions to orient me.

Huh. Interesting. The thing about being in the mountains is that for me, it is effortless joy. My limbs and lungs may feel all sorts of effort but all the defined edges of my soul disappear and becomes part of a deep current of joy. Joy that feels like it is as old as the mountain. Joy that doesn’t need a label. That just is. I just am in that environment. Part of that same current, no beginning or end. I’ve been there as long as the mountain has too.

That’s the answer I always come back to, every time I visit these questions. It doesn’t matter what I call myself (or what anyone else calls me for that matter). Just go where your soul goes and forget the rest.

Trail Stats:

Trailhead

Length: about 6-7 miles round trip

Elevation gain: 1700 feet or thereabouts, with the high point being 4900ish feet

Difficulty: not super douche-y

bathroom sitch: porta potties at trail head (yet another reason to get up early and beat the crowds)

 

The Kings-Elks loop that didn’t happen: apparently crying in the woods is a thing I do now

It was about the third switchback, not even that far up from the Kings trail head when the tears started.

My dog is dying.

We are almost two years past the cancer diagnosis and the surgery that took her left front leg. We knew then that we were borrowing time and it seems to have caught up to us. Cancer in her remaining front leg has metastisized to her lungs. The vet said we’d know when it was time and all that’s left for us to do is keep her comfortable until then.

I’m already sick of crying and she isn’t even gone yet.

For anyone who thinks that because there aren’t any tall peaks in the coastal range surely no trail could be that challenging, come hang out with me sometime. The trail up Kings gains 2500 in only 2.5 miles making it’s grade somewhere between this shit is ridiculous and kiss my ass hard.

I’d originally set out to do the loop from Kings to Elks mountain, a total of eleven miles and about 4000-ish feet of gain between the two mountains. It’s on my bucket list of stupid hard crap to do and right about now, I’d really like to experience something physically uncomfortable enough to get me out of my own head.

I don’t think there are enough switchbacks in the world to do that right now.

With every pounding heart beat, I thought about Keely’s journey. From skinny, starved, abused shelter dog on the kill list that I met in December of 2007 to cancer survivor in Sept of 2015 to where she is now. Her life has been unfairly difficult. And I worry, always worry, that we haven’t given her enough good moments in between to make up for what she’s had to go through.

Dammit, now I’m crying again.

The thing about the trail, that I’ve heard plenty of people say, is it’s a metaphor for life but I think it’s a little more than that. I could escape my life pretty easily if I wanted to. We humans have found so many ways, many totally legal, to distract us from ourselves. I think the trail is a fun house mirror of life that you can’t escape. Even if you decide to bail a few miles in, you’ve got to get back to your car somehow so you are forced to face every crappy thought your scared little brain throws at you. It’s not pretty.

And that’s why I like it. Because it doesn’t give me easy. I’ve had too much of easy and never gave me anything but an ache for what was missing. So I go out there and find stupid hard things to do because then I can live completely in myself and every time I’ve face the scared, mean, angry parts of myself and managed to get back to the trail head, I’ve also found a little more empathy and compassion and forgiveness. Peace. I could use some peace right about now.

trail1

But my time with Keely is shortening by the minute.

So I decided to shorten the hike and only get to the top of Kings and back so that I could spend more time with her, even if that meant just listening to her snore. One day in the very near future, I am going to desperately miss those snores.

Right about then was when I looked up and noticed the 2000 ft elevation sign nailed into a tree. That meant I only had about a mile and 1200 feet of gain to get to the top of the mountain. The last time I was there, it was raining and the entire area was shrouded in mist which gave the sense that the ground just dropped away to nothing once you get out of the tree line and I wanted to see what it looked like when it was clear. I can now comfirm that is absolutely true.

trial3

At the top I said a prayer to the winds for peace. Not for me. For her.

trail2

And then I went home and sat in the sun with my dog and didn’t miss the trail for a minute.

Trail stats: (Kings trailhead to summit only)

Trailhead

Difficulty: So this is funny. Tillamook state forest calls this trail ‘challenging’. Oregon hikers call it ‘moderate’ which is complete bullshit because they also called Cape Lookout moderate and having been on both of those trails, I can assure you, they are not even remotely the same grade. I’m sticking with my personal grade of ‘this shit is ridiculous’.

Distance: 5 miles round trip

Elevation gain: 2500 feet in 2.5 miles

Bathroom sitch: chemical toilet at trailhead.

 

It was supposed to be a rest hike but I ended up crying in the woods

Rest hike (n): coined by friends, these are the hikes I take on weeks where I’m decreasing mileage because I want to give my legs a break but still want some time in the woods. In general, they are no more than 5-6 miles at the most, are an actual hike and not my patented run/hike/death shuffle combo and don’t have significant elevation gain. They are also the only hikes those friends will go on with me because apparently I’m ‘crazy’.

As I drove towards the coast and my decided rest hike at Cape Lookout trail, I randomly started thinking about the dark times I’ve had on the trail. Those times when I’ve been in pain or fatigued or just beat down by the heat and how I have had very few moments like that since moving to Oregon. I guess it’s kinda hard to fall into such a negative space when you still are new enough to the area that everything seems like some magical Rivendell to you. The fact that it’s not 85 degrees by 6 am also probably helps. And I fully expected this hike to be in the same vein. Beautiful, enjoyable, maybe I see some whales.

Oh expectations. I should know better by now.

The hike to the Cape was wonderful with the requisite outstanding views and big, old trees that remind me how small I really am in the grand scheme of things (no whales but I did see a bald eagle).

cape lookout 1cape lookout 3

On the way back, I texted a happy birthday greeting to a friend back in Texas and he responded with some very good news regarding he and his significant other that had happy tears stinging my eyes because I could clearly remember holding his hand 2 years ago when his world was falling apart, helpless to do anything but remind him to keep hanging on because I’d been there too and the roles had been reversed then as he’d been the one that helplessly watched me crumble.

Haha. Oh there you are dark spot.

We moved to Oregon because I’d felt the calling in my soul for years to move to the mountains. The calling started as just a ping, a ‘wouldn’t it be nice’, and slowly grew over several years. By the time we started seriously looking into a move in the summer of 2016, the calling had increased in volume and grown insistent. It was time to go.

Paulo Coelho said: When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.

In our case, the universe didn’t conspire so much as it came clambering, rushing, tripping over itself to greet us. The time between when we started looking for jobs and the time we landed in Oregon was 3 months. The time between when I accepted a job and the time we started driving across the country was 17 days. SEVENTEEN DAYS to pack up our entire life, get the house ready to sell, sell the house, find a new place to live and somehow say goodbye to the friends and family that have been hard fought constants in our life.

My family moved all over the country when I was a kid. Including Oregon, I’ve lived in eight states and on Guam (a US territory). The roots that were planted in Texas took years to grow for someone unused to consistency and almost a year after our move to Oregon, standing amidst 300 year old fir trees, I felt that same grief and confusion at how quickly I pulled them up.

cape lookout 2

How could something felt so right to me also leave me so conflicted?

The tears were no longer happy so I finished the hike as quickly as I could and headed into town to get some food (I am notorious for being calorically underprepared on my excursions).

After a valiant attempt at consuming a slice of pizza bigger than my head, I knew I wasn’t quite ready to go home so I headed to the beach.

Standing there with my feet in the cold pacific ocean, I remembered the other times in my life when the universe had pinged me and I’d ignored it, even when the soft whisperings had turned to desperate screams. How I’d scrabbled and clung to the way things were despite blatant signs that life as I knew had fissures getting closer and closer to my heart every day until finally, they gave way and the ground beneath me caved and buried me alive. How I still wonder sometimes how different things might have been if I’d listened and how I still sometimes feel like I’m scrambling to make up all the lost ground from having to dig my way out of the aftermath.

And how we are all so short sighted while the universe plays the long game and that every transition I’ve ever had in my life, no matter how painful, has lead to something better and deeper and stronger that I never in a million years would have guessed and that I’d committed to myself years ago that I wasn’t going to ignore the callings of my soul anymore which meant I am where I’m supposed to be, even with the confusion and longing for the people I’d left.

I do love this place.

cape lookout 5

Trail stats per the internet:

Trailhead

Trailhead bathroom situation: Porta-potties. I’ve been spoiled, apparently, with the luxurious chemical toilets at other trailheads. I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.

Length: 5 miles round trip

Elevation gain: 930 feet according to the internet but maybe that’s how high is above the ocean because I know I didn’t climb that much. The trail head is at 840 feet so maybe there’s a couple hundred feet of elevation change or something.

Difficulty: the internet says moderate. I probably need to learn how the grades are determined. It felt easy to me.

Mud level: Yes.

cape lookout 4