Peak: Hugo Peak

Elevation: 1,790′

Total Elevation Gain: 922′

Total Mileage: 4.5 miles

This trip report will be a practice in brevity. Wish me luck.

It’s been too long since tagging my last peak! I’ve been spending Saturdays learning to ski, which has been its own interesting adventure. It’s tough not being good at something, and doubly so when small children mock me by effortlessly shredding the slopes in the pow-pow that the sky just puked, brah. (I think that’s how skiers talk?) It’s been a fun experience, all the same, and I show promising signs of improvement.

I’ve been missing the trees, though, so a writing retreat with a colleague at Pack Forest proved the perfect antidote. We rented a cabin for a night in order to work on drafting our tenure narratives. It’s amazing how productive you can be with fewer distractions. After a solid day of work, we hit the trails right outside the cabin and embarked on a sunset hike up to Hugo Peak.


Our cabin at Pack Forest. Amazing 1970s interior decor, complete with orange carpet, not pictured.

As we wound our way up along the Hugo Peak trail, we had occasional views of the nearby foothills, many of which were clear cut, as well as flatter terrain to the south and west. Rain clouds threatened to the east but didn’t make us think twice about pressing onward.

The setting sun wore a brilliant orange glow that deepened as it sank toward the horizon. I didn’t even try to capture it with my phone camera, as it surely would not have done justice to the incredibly rich color. I’m not sure that I’ve seen such an orange-colored sunset before. It was absolutely brilliant.


Peek-a-boo view from the trail, the sun sauntering toward the horizon.

My timing was off, so we missed a summit sunset. Nevertheless, a narrow gap in the trees opened a slivered vista of twinkling lights in the valley below. To the north, we could see Graham and Spanaway. Closer, the lights of Eatonville flickered. Randy signed the summit register on our behalf, noting that this was his first peak and #5 of my 40 for 40.

The spring peepers started peeping in the twilight, and a break in the clouds revealed a starry night. The wind rustled in the evergreens, and we enjoyed some summit wine and took it all in. As we sat on log benches, chatting and stargazing, it struck me how much at peace I felt in this moment. Life has been quite stressful, and I’d arrived at the cabin quite wound up. Sitting among the stars and trees brought a much needed sense of calm. I reflected on how long it’s been since I’ve spent the night in the woods; clearly, it’s been too long. Nights in the forest and mountains allow me to recharge and recenter myself; it’s high time that I return to this world.

Hesitant to leave this outdoor sanctuary, we eventually made our way back down the dark trail. From time to time, we covered the beams of our headlamps to look up at the night sky, more stars emerging with each glance. We heard an owl’s call and, later, that of a creature not identified (I thought perhaps coyote but couldn’t quite hear well enough.) Coming around a bend, two glowing eyes confronted us from the dark, which soon proved connected to a lone deer. It crashed into the thickets and vanished out of sight.

All too soon, the lights of cabins greeted us. The experience was, fortunately, a good one for Randy, and he said that he would love to do this again sometime. I’m happy to have been there for his first peak and night hike and look forward to the next one!