(BRANDON HANSEN/Chewelah Independent)
Quartzite Mountain is one of those natural wonders that just keeps on giving. Not only does Chewelah get a recognizable landmark that appears on our beer (Quartzite Brewing) and can be seen from miles around, but it also serves as a vantage point for the valley.
We can’t exactly go to church or watch a baseball game right now, so what better way to spend some time than checking out the Boys Scouts trail up the backside of the mountain to the recognizable face of Quartzite Mountain? Better yet, Chewelah has a high per capita of loggers and they can make your hiking experience all the more memorable.
I was able to hike the mountain with my father, Tony Hansen, last weekend and he has more than a few years under his belt working out in the woods. If you do decide to take your friendly neighborhood logger along with you on your hike up Quartzite, remember they come with these features:
THEIR OWN OFF-ROAD VEHICLE
A logging pickup truck that they drive to work that has experienced roads much worse than Mud Lake Road. While someone in a Subaru may wince as the road gets narrower and ruts develop, the average Chewelah logger will laugh at the sound of their pickup bottoming out and speed up.
A TREE LESSON
The logger will give you a lesson filled with every type of tree you’ll experience along the trail. What tree looks healthy, what sections of Quarzite had been logged and their own personal opinion on what dead trees are death traps for a hiker not paying attention. The best thing about loggers is they will always talk to you about logging. It’s unlike journalists, who after a hard day’s work of politics, just wants to go home and drink from a bottle of rum.
Loggers hate trails. They must be the training wheels of outdoorsmen or something. If you go hiking with your logger dad like I did, be prepared to go off trail. For some reason a draw may look like a better route, and he may make several references to other routes he took up the mountain. “One time I hiked up this side, or that side or up the front side.” Apparently for loggers, trails are more like guidelines than routes.
THE PETER SWANSON METHOD OF HIKING
My logger dad took this method of hiking to heart. What people tend to failout while hiking is taking breaks to recoup. My cousin Peter, who we both named this method of hiking after, is also the owner of 395 Tractor in Deer Park and has a brilliant strategy. Being in good hiking shape also means you have to be a good conversationalist. How does one “sneak in” breaks? Why, by throwing in a healthy dose of conversation during the hike! Somebody stops to take a look at the surrounding area? Throw in some conversation. Someone else looks like they’re out of breath and need to stop? Time for some discussion. A flat spot in the trail? Time to talk about the Seahawks.
The Quartzite Mountain trail is known for the steep beginning, but the “Peter Swanson method of hiking” is absolutely the best way to tackle it. Take your breaks, but don’t act like you’re taking a break. Those in hiking shape also seem to have things much more thought out on how they want to tackle a climb. In shape people are absolutely great at this. I would guess that Lance Armstrong was resting all the time when he was doing the Tour de France. Michael Jordan probably took naps during defensive sets. Tom Brady takes breaks all the time behind that Patriot offensive line.
Other things you should take into account before going up to Quartzite Mountain: Make sure you car can handle the road – it’s not bad – but you’ll probably have to do some creative driving if you’re taking your Prius up on that road. Make sure you have water, It’s not a long hike, but it’s always good to stay hydrated and the days are beginning to get warmer. A nice mid-hike snack is a must. Also give yourself plenty of time to hike up the trail. While two to four miles of hiking isn’t particularly long, you’re gonna be huffing and puffing more if you’re trying to speed walk the thing. Not having a deadline to get off the mountain lets you enjoy it more and explore more.
Watch out for ticks and other fun bugs. Bring some bug spray as well since they like to linger up on top. Also sunscreen up, because we all know how white and pasty you are from the winter and lockdown.
Quartzite Mountain has the best payoff when it comes to a rewarding view of the area. The trail climbs about 800 feet and the highest point of the trail goes up to 3,714 ft. Many people have already spent their “Stay at Home” time up on the mountain, so if you can manage a steep jaunt, check out the best outdoor activity Chewelah has to offer.