By Mathias Eichler
Winter, trails, darkness, and all the weather.
Olympia, get ready for a fun and festive holiday treat on the trails of Squaxin Park.
Inspired by the Nolan’s 14 route, I dreamed up the Cushman Six route hoping to connect all the major peaks by Lake Cushman above Hoodsport. Over the course of many years I had climbed all the peaks individually and was looking for a challenge that’s on the edge of trail running, flirts with mountaineering but does not require deep wilderness travel and backcountry experience. Cushman Six is my kind of route. And it needed to be something entirely new, so I could claim my FKT crown – I’m too slow to chase existing routes. I doubt anyone had every done this combo of peaks before in this fashion. So for me, as a marketer and designer I knew I couldn’t be quiet about it and had to create a website, and share every detail I could. I didn’t want to keep this adventure a secret, I invite people to follow my footsteps and try themselves on this project. In fact I know it can be completed faster and I’m sort of surprised our initial time has been standing this long.
Putting a route like this out isn’t without risk. Good photos and marketing can invite people to take this too lightly. While seemingly accessible, this route isn’t all on trails. There’s a lot of off-trail navigation along scree fields with loose rocks and over exposed sections. It’ll require smart planning, good navigation skills and the ability to problem solve and move fast and light.
When we ran Cushman Six wildfire smoke covered the sky and made the air heavy. The road from Staircase to Big Creek was closed requiring us to run, well more like crawl the additional 7 miles on a dirt road in the middle of the night back to our car.
Last year good friend of mine Tabatha Collins and Mary Flinders attempted it. Got stuck on Copper and had to spend the night up there before rushing home to another engagement and missing Cub Peak. Almost a year later they attempted the route again… and missed Cub Peak again.
This weekend Barrett Gray is stepping up with a friend of hers and I am incredibly stoked to see if she’s going to be able to repeat the route and put down a new time that gets me off my chair and take another look at these incredible peaks wondering if they need another visit from me.
Here is what I wrote for the website I created detailing the route:
There is little running and a whole lot of mountain terrain to cover. Be ready for plenty of exposure, rough terrain that cuts your hands and legs. Scree, loose footing, and thick forested hillsides will make route finding slow and challenging. But, oh how glorious it is to stand on six mountain summits in one run.