I can feel Red Mountain towering over me…even this evening. If you drive up to Lake Cle Elum, Red Mountain is the large open faced peak at the head of the lake. I walked out of the campground so that I could see it in the Alpenglow as the sunset. It’s red rocks a burnt fuchsia before dimming to dark purple, the light fading.
The campground is rowdy. Phillip is having a birthday party. There are about 60 people having a good time in the woods tonight. Luckily they are far enough off I can only hear voices and chatter. They’ll simmer down before long.
I’ve reached the summit of Red Mountain more times than I can recall. It is still, one of my favorite hikes. Even after the rock slide took out the amazing spring and meadow that filled with wildflowers every summer. Like something out of a fantasy novel. Enchanted.
My lantern sizzles against the low thump of music in the distance. At least the RVs are quiet now. Older folks and people with enough money to afford a house on wheels typically have some sort of bedtime. 20 year olds do not. The moon is full, and it is shining brightly. Illuminating the trees and faint clouds over head. A beautiful sight lost on the youth over yonder.
The summit of Red Mountain is a scree filled scramble 300 feet up. A small single chunk of granite reaches just higher than all the other pillars around it. Enough room for one maybe two people to sit atop. It’s a smaller peak only 5600 feet or so, however the trail is 5.6 Miles ascending 3800 feet, the majority in the last 2 Miles. It’s not easy, and the trail is a goat path that zigs and zags along the hard overgrown rock. I’ve been turned around a time or two when the trail is thick in the summer. There is still a small spring fed creek that twists its way through the brush…a mere 12 inches wide or less as it flows down swiftly.
The planes fly overhead, breaking the somewhat quiet night, even the birthday party is settling as it comes up on midnight. I hear a young lady cackle or squeal, and a dude say something dudish, with the occasional beer can opening in between. I set camp closer to the road, the next closest camper is 50 yards away and silent. I tend to keep to myself, thanking the occasional complement to the boat, beard, or RTT. I enjoyed a long hot shower and a good beard brush, my neck and legs are chill as the late hour brings the cooler temperatures.
I camped atop Red Mountain one cold late September evening. Resting in my hammock between two scraggly trees a few hundred feet below the summit. The stars are quite brilliant atop that mountain. The night was colder than I expected but was prepared for. The wind blew as well, it rocked me between the trees. I ate a chicken and rice mountain house meal before I laid down. I rested awake for quite some time as the wind and trees conversed with the mountaintops.
It’s simmering here down below the summit along the river. The stars aren’t as bright as that evening atop Red Mountain. I can see them faintly in the bright moon glow. Cassiopeia, my favorite constellation, peaking through the trees over my left shoulder. I can see the south eastern ridge of Red Mountain. A long steep ridge line that would require climbing gear to ascend, and would lead you to the lesser peak of the mountain. There is a breeze through the trees that cools my skin and makes the hair on my neck and legs bristle. I wonder if the wind and trees are talking to the mountaintops this evening…or are they commenting on how loud young people are to each other?