December 24, 2021
Start/end: parked at 2 boulders on Elephant Mtn Rd
Elevation gain: 2454′
I started the hike on the later side, around 4:30pm, with sunset not far away. I figured it wouldn’t be too bad; I had perhaps half fresh batteries in my headlamp and I didn’t recall Elephant being a particularly difficult bushwhack. Boy, was I wrong…
So walking the logging road was easy, but once I hit the actual bushwhack, it got gnarly. I couldn’t see or stay on any defined herdpath. There was so much logging slash everywhere, big piles of full trees up to a foot in diameter – never big enough to solidly walk on but always big enough to catch my feet. I couldn’t seem to get around it in the dark. I fell a dozen times, bent my trekking poles, and managed to draw blood on my shins twice, despite 3 thick layers of clothing between me and the huge brush piles. There may have been some shouting and serious contemplation of just turning the F around. But I just hunkered down and kept moving.
Towards the summit, the trees were tight and heavy with snow; I was constantly having snow dumped on my head and down my neck. At least on the way back down, I was able to navigate around most of the slash and minimize the damage. The walk on the logging road took a full eternity, but I didn’t let myself look at how far I had to go because I knew it wouldn’t help. By the time I got back to my car, it was 6 degrees, I was cold to the bone, and my headlamp’s batteries were a few seconds from failing entirely. I was so glad to get inside my car and blast the heat.