Wednesday, September 13, 2017

For the Love of a Mountain

Do you have a favorite place? Can you explain why it is special? Or is it just a feeling without words?

I am lucky that I have been to so many different beautiful mountains flung across Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. I am spoiled by all these trails. It is amazing such ethereal beauty is so readily available to us. Heaven on earth beckons from the forest lands.

There is but one though, one little mountain top boasting a loop trail to a summit out and back, that is so much more than all the others to me. It is Patterson Mountain, just outside of Winthrop in the magical Methow Valley of Eastern Washington. It is my place above all others. If anything is wrong in life it is better there and if everything is right in life it is that much more golden there.

Early April 2017. A slow thaw under the shimmering sunshine.

One must travel through the picturesque American Alps in awe of the steep mountain majesty of Washington Pass to get to Patterson. Once arrived it is but a little 3,500 foot tall hill nestled by a lake where it rests dwarfed by the alpine mountains more than twice its height on the horizon.

Why Patterson? My first experience of this little hill was the final climb before finishing my first 50 miler, the Sun Mountain 50 Miler in 2015. I remember there being thunder and in the distance some lightning. Nearing 12 hours on my feet I was a tad loopy and I remember taking off a metal barrette, feeling paranoid that the lightning would be drawn to my scalp by it. I remember stressing about the finish line cutoff, wondering if I'd make it once I hit the turnaround sign on the top of Patterson. That little hill made an impression on me that day.
Nearly done with the 2015 Sun Mountain 50 Miler, on the summit of Patterson.

In 2016, I came out almost every weekend between the pass opening and the Sun Mountain 100k. This was a double loop course so knowing I'd climb Patterson twice I invented Patterson-peats and did a 5-peat that weekend. Last weekend I did a 3-peat under cloud cover with a wonderful just warm enough wind on Saturday evening. It was magical and hatched my 28-peat 100.8 mile fun run idea. It's just a dream right now, but maybe it will become a reality in 2018. I think I will love my little mountain just as much afterwards, if it comes to fruition.
The last descent of the 2016 Sun Mountain 100k, sunset falling.

Springtime perfection

This year, I came to see Patterson in early April, before the pass had opened and while my little hill was still flanked with snow. I was benched from running at the time for a tibial stress fracture and had my son with me, but little keeps me from Patterson. The two of us went post holing up to the summit, chilling our legs with each break through the icy snow. It shimmered like a gem in the sunshine that day.

I find myself drawn to Patterson as many weekends as possible before the pass closes and winter's freeze falls over her till the spring thaw.
September 2017, fall colors pending.
 What is it about a place that calls the heart so strongly? What place calls to you?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your love of that mountain. I ran there for the first time this year at the 50k, largely based on your enthusiasm. The flowers were unbelievable, with the snow-capped peaks in the distance forming the perfect background.


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