Mount Rose, Olympic National Forest
March 18, 2006
I was returning to Mount Rose for the first time in a year and a half, my previous rumblings in the area taking place in November of 2004. Along with Steve and Eugene from the Mountaineers, I made a winter run at Mount Rose, but this time after a few days of snow had fallen in the Olympics on top of the already thick base.
We wanted a workout, and a work out was what we got. At first Steve and I pushed a sweat-popping pace along the trail as it wound through the dense forest, pleasantly green and sweet with the smell of what I would call spring. However, after a mile or so the trail began to accumulate snow and by the time we reached the trail junction, there was a thick layer. The junction gave us a choice: Left and short and unmarked, or right, longer, and marked. Of course, I thought it best to take the left fork and that is what we did.
Past the junction we quickly lost the proper path (I was leading) and struck off through the woods, climbing direction and steeply. Or, rather, floundering. The snow was light and fluffy, which meant that every step was in to my knees and I was working rather hard to gain elevation. After forty five minutes of exertion, Steve took over the leading so that I could rest for a bit. Snowshoes quickly came on, but the snow worsened and now every step (I was back in front) was in to the hips. Eugene, unfortunately, didn't have snowshoes and was faring even worse than we were. Finally, a decision was made to turn back from the top, 500 vertical feet from the summit.
At the rate we were going (and I was going about as hard as I could), it would take us at least an hour, probably 90 minutes, to get to the top, which meant that Eugene would have had to wait, sedentary, in the snow for probably two or two and a half hours, which wasn't a wise idea. We had all been to the top of Rose before and there was no reason to make Eugene suffer so that we could take the top yet again. With our well-plowed path, we quickly descended the snow, making short work out of what had cost me so much sweat and strength, rumbling down to the car in less than an hour.
Logistics To get to the trail, take HWY 101 north out of Olympia and drive to the town of Hoodsport on Hood Canal. In the middle of town, take a left at the sign for Lake Cushman and Staircase. Drive the winding, and paved, road about seven miles to where it hits a T-junction. Make a left and drive another few miles down the road until the pavement ends (my Camry has no problems here). Drive another mile or so until you see a sign for Mt. Rose Trail on the right. Most cars car make it up the spur road and into the parking lot, but you can choose to park on the main road and walk twenty extra feet.
The entire trail is located in Olympic National Forest, which means that you can bring dogs and guns and things like that. You don't need to pay for parking.
See my other Mount Rose hike for more, slightly contradictory details.