Thursday, April 20, 2006

Tread Easy on Pyramid Peak

Anyone who has hiked the Pyramid Peak Trail in Olympic National Park over the years can attest that a section about 1.75 miles up it is prone to nasty slides. I have always felt uneasy crossing this section. The latest slide is quite unnerving. The trail crew has restored the tread-but you are still subject to an extremely narrow section of trail-and exposure. If you slip on this section-you will fall several hundred feet to either meet your health provider or your maker.

So, what I'm saying here is that this trail is dangerous. Now, I'm quite comfortable on most trails-I love to scramble and I've done a fair amount of off-trail romps to summits. But, for some reason (call it intuition) I was extremely uncomfortable crossing this narrow exposed section of trail. The Park Service describes the tread as restored but it may be scary. I can't help but think how many tenderfoots and neophytes who will start up this very accessible trail this season and then get to this slide-crossing it not fully confident-and then realizing that they have to cross it again to get back to the trailhead! It is a disaster waiting to happen.

The obvious solution should have been to reroute this trail around this slide-prone area many years ago. But budgets the way they are prohibited it-and I'm sure an environmental impact statement would probably be needed too (overkill if you ask me). But, when the first hiker this year takes a tumble on this path-will we finally reconsider a reroute. Or will we just close the trail and lose yet another backcountry opportunity in our parks. The amount of trails that have disappeared in the Olympics in my lifetime is staggering. I hope an accident doesn't induce another closure. And of course I hope that an accident doesn't occur for the sake of everyone's safety.

1 comment:

Anna Montana said...

I just climbed Pyramid this weekend. The slide was indeed "scary" in the skinny squishy spot near the end on the way up. The way back seemed to be easier for some reason, perhaps because I was rested after lunch at the summit, and I psyched myself up for the second crossing. That was the most hairball thing I've every hiked across.