The Mt. Muller Loop is a unique trail on the Olympic Penennsula in that it's one of the few trails in the area not inside the National Park. Because of this, you can take your pets, ride your mountain bike and even take the horses.
I normally go counter clock-wise because tackling the flats first is a good warm-up for the long climb to the summit. Plus, when you do the flats last, it seems to take FOR-EVER to get back to the car... they drag on and on and on.
My plan was to get to the top and at the junction take a left to Kloshe Nanitch. I've passed the junction many times, but never actually taken the trail up there. So today was going to be the day.
The three miles to the junction went by quickly. Copper would run up ahead, then run back to make sure I was still coming, then off he'd go again. He never left the trail, never chased the birds, he was quite well behaved the whole trip.
At the top, it was cold, wet and windy. It wasn't raining, but the clouds were so thick that water was condensing on the trees and dripping off. down at the car I debated on bringing my foul weather gear. I normally don't need it... I don't mind getting wet so much because I tend to keep warm enough through exertion that it isn't a problem. Today, however I'm glad I packed it.
From the outset, the spur trail resisted: It was overgrown with salmon berry bushes, vine maples draped over the trail and the grass was thick. Occasionally, the trail would follow along the edge of the ridge. You could look down over the cliff but the mist was so thick, there wasn't much of a view. I was so impressed by the weather that I took a quick video.
After about 3/4 mile or so, the trail disappeared completely. I searched for about 20 minutes, pushing through trees and circling around searching for any sign... nothing. I was soaked to the bone. My gore-tex jacket protected my body, but my pants were soaked through making walking uncomfortable. In addition, my boots had wicked enough water down my socks that they were sloshing with water. I must say though, that as wet and cold as I was, I was having fun. I love it out alone, with nowhere to be and the stresses of everyday life left behind. I would do this every day if I could get away with it.
Back at the junction it's about 2.3 miles to the summit. So I set off. Up and up and up. My wet pants making every step an ordeal, I huffed on up the trail. My GPS told me I was less than 1/2 mile from the top, but I was so dang hungry, I had to stop. We sat down and I fixed a sandwich. Copper ate his and I ate two. After about 15 minutes we set off again. Fifteen minutes after that, we reached the summit. My GPS said we were at 3768', but the sign says 3748'. Regardless, it was nice. The wind was still blowing, but the clouds had cleared enough to see the valley below.
I took this opportunity to change my clothes I was still pretty wet and uncomfortable.
There's a geocache up here too. If you aren't familliar with Geocaching, I suggest you check it out. People all over the world hide packages all over the place, then post the Lat./Lon. coordinates online. Then you go out and find it, sign the log book, take a trinket and leave a trinket if you want. It's really quite fun, and kids really get a kick out of doing these "treasure hunts". The designation for the Mt. Muller Cache is: GCNB21
I layed and basked in the sun for about an hour. It was good.
The descent down the other side was uneventful. About 5 miles down the mountain, hamstrings getting more and more sore by the minute. Even Copper was beginning to show signs of fatigue by the time we hit the bottom. He was glad when we did get there though, he hadn't had anything propper to drink since the start; just an occasional sip from my Camelbak. There was a stream there that he layed in, and drank until he was full.
There are two more Geocaches along the flat part of the trail: GC17MR9 and GC17MRG. I had already found those at an earlier time though. We made it back to the car about 3:30. Copper was so beat that he just layed on the back seat on the way home. Normally, in the car, he's up and around, sticking his nose out the window and trying to steer for me. Today, I couldn't get him to move from his spot. Then, when we got home, he crashed on his pillow and wouldn't move. The kittens even came up to him and tryed playing with him. He barely lifted an eyebrow.
All in all, it was about the best Father's Day I had ever had. Peace, quiet, good excercise and great environment. I'll definitely do it again.