Backyard 7 Summits Project: Kitsap County’s Highest Peak

By Cleo Clark-Athans, Grade 4


Climbing Gold Mountain © Liesl Clark

We did it!

We reached the highest point in our county today. It’s called Gold Mountain and is only 1,687 feet high. It took about an hour and 10 minutes to get to the top. Two miles to the summit, but it was straight up through a thick forest, until we hit a logging road with extraordinary views.


We could see across many lakes and Hood Canal to the Olympic Mountains out on the Peninsula. My brother was happy to get to the top, with sweeping views and high winds.


Million Dollar View, 50 Miles Wide © Liesl Clark

Although our county doesn’t have extremely high peaks, I’m planning to climb all 7 of the highest mountains as part of my Backyard Seven Summits Project, an attempt to get kids outdoors to explore the high points in their own counties.


Gold Mountain Lets You See From Sea to Summit © Liesl Clark

We’ve done 2 out of 7 summits and they’re all beautiful hikes, in the Blue Hills of Kitsap County. Most people don’t even know about these peaks. They’re hilltops for all of us to get on top of for great expansive views of a luscious green landscape from the sea to the glaciers on the highest points of the Olympic Peninsula.


Sibling Time Together © Liesl Clark

The journey down is like a dream, easy, and it goes by fast, with so much to see on the horizon miles and miles away. But if you watch your feet there are semi-precious stones to be found on these trails, like agates. We learned this from a man we met on the trail. He also said he saw fresh puma tracks. Hiking gets people outside but it also gets people to talk to each other.


PNW Whimsey © Liesl Clark

There’s plenty to marvel at when you just get outside. Our dog, Sailor, knows this.

Have you climbed your own seven summits in your neighborhood? If so, please write in the comments below so we can hear about your adventures.


The Backyard Seven Summits Project © Liesl Clark

The Backyard Seven Summits Project

Every county has its high points, just like every continent.

View From the Summit of Green Mountain. Summit #2, Kitsap County, WA. © Liesl Clark

View From the Summit of Green Mountain. Summit #2, Kitsap County, WA. © Liesl Clark

Why limit ourselves to the boundaries of our continents, rather than redefining challenges that include the uncelebrated wilds in our own back yards?

Endless Vanishing Points on Our 7 Summits Push © Liesl Clark

Endless Vanishing Points on Our 7 Summits Push © Liesl Clark

This weekend, our 10-year-old started a 7 summits quest of her own – to reach the 7 highest points in her county. We started with #2, just to see how it felt. After two-and-a-half hours, and a little over 5 miles of hiking, she thanked us for dragging her out to a place none of us had ever been. It was only a 1,639 ft. ascent, but it afforded us some together time, away from the ever-invasive media in our lives and rewarded us with beautiful views, even on a cloudy Northwest fall day.

Here’s what our daughter reports about the adventure:

Kitsap County, Green Mountain, 1,639 feet

I loved it! And I think every kid should do a 7 summits quest of their own. I challenge all kids to seek out, map out, explore, and climb to the 7 summits of their counties, no matter where they live. If you happen to live in a county with really high peaks, pace yourself, aim for #7 or seek out the 7 lowest points in your county. The point is to get outside and set goals, explore what’s around you and just get there!

Huckleberries on the Trail © Liesl Clark

Huckleberries on the Trail © Liesl Clark

I found huckleberries on my way down from my first summit, and discovered, on the trail, a really sad story about a little girl who once lived, and then died, right where I was hiking. It made me realize how important it is to learn more about where we live and those who came before us. We should read their stories and find out how they lived and died. I think the highest points in each county could hold these stories. High points have a kind of power. If you go there, you’ll see what I mean.

Here’s a picture of the sign with the story of Little Wing on it.

Little Wing's Story © Cleo Clark-Athans

Little Wing’s Story © Cleo Clark-Athans

Please join us in trying to find your own 7 summits! You’ll get outside, learn something, and get stronger as you go higher. We’d love for you to share your stories with us so they can be read by everyone. Send photos, point to where you are on the map, and tell us how tired you got. There’s always the easy downhill after you reach the top.

© Liesl Clark

© Liesl Clark

Our Backyard Seven Summits Project is in honor of the life of Little Wing, in hopes that no child, no matter what culture they come from, what high place they call home, will ever suffer ridicule for being different. My great grandmother was Shoshone and I know she didn’t live with her native people. I’d like to believe that she was accepted by the community she lived in. No child, or adult, should die alone.