Mt. Pugh

September 20, 2002

Dave Svilar, Dan Svilar

Although we were separated by 30 years my dad and I found ourselves in similar situations.  Father and son took to the hills to enjoy another crisp fall day of unemployment.  The week before we had done a traverse of Mt. Pilchuck and this week was supposed to be the annual Mt. Three Fingers trip.  My old man was taking the day off from picketing for the Snohomish teachers strike, and I was taking the day off from building my vacation house. It was my mom's birthday, so she celebrated by making my dad and I lunches and then going to work.  We found the Three Fingers road washed out, so went to plan B, which was Mt. Pugh that we had climbed almost ten years before.

The first few miles of the trail was steady uphill through forest that seemed to be particularly green.  This is the part of a trip that I try to get done with as quick as possible.  Contrarily my dad enjoys pointing out different varieties of trees and other vegetation stopping to take a closer examination if he feels the need.  This "stopping to sniff the flowers" is what is missing from a lot of my recent adventures and I appreciated this forgotten aspect of the outdoors my dad was forcing me to remember.

Our conversations ran the gamut from religion to exercising to science to girls.  Whenever we hike together our conversations usually deteriorate into the subject of females.  This time he quizzed me, "so Dave, what are you looking for in a girl?"  I gave him the usual answers and he proceeded to tell me how great my mother looked 30 years ago.  I told my dad I'd rather talk about something else.  During the course of this myriad of conversations it was remarkable to note just how similar our interests and opinions were.

We broke the trees and crossed over Stujack Pass and onto the final summit ridge.  Views of the surrounding hills improved with each upward step, particularly those of neighboring Sloan Peak which looked like a baby Matterhorn from this vantage.  Minor scrambling was required for a short stretch then the trail eased off again close to the summit.

Dad moving with the agility and grace of a hippopotamus scrambles over steep terrain.

We reached the summit in 3.5 hours from the trailhead.  For those keeping track at home, that's 5,000+ vertical feet on 56 year old legs.  Even more impressive was that my dad didn't seem the least bit fatigued.  Everyone my age should strive to be 50 years old and still climbing mountains without working up more than a sweat.  We stayed on top relaxing in the sun and pointing out surrounding peaks.  I could name all the peaks and my dad could name all the flowers.

My dad and I on the summit with Sloan Peak in the background.


It doesn't count unless you reach the tip top.


We're still on top.  This is after lunch and that's Glacier Peak in the distance.

My dad never runs out of things to converse about, so the hike back down seemed to pass quickly.  If he runs out of new things to say he'll just start talking about the same things we talked about earlier as if it's all new.  Whole chunks of hiking time that would otherwise seem boring can be passed by listening to my dad tell stories.  When he wasn't talking he was reminding me how quiet it was, "Now David, listen to this quiet - it won't be like this in the classroom."  I was preparing to go back to school to become a high school math/science teacher.  Just like my dad.   As we reluctantly neared the car I couldn't help laughing about a conclusion that was fairly obvious.  I am a chip off the old block.

-written October 2002

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