Pacific Northwest Trip Reports! 2001
Reports of personal experience of hikes and climbs in the backcountry of Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and the surrounding area.
|Pacific Northwest Trip Reports 2002!|
Amabilis Mountain, 4,554 December 29, 2001
This one is from Dan Nelsons Snowshoe Routes book. The Trailhead is Exit 63 off I-90 at the Cabin Creek Exit. The only catch is that you need the $20 Sno-Park Permit and $20 Groomed Trail Permit ($41 total and get it before you leave town!) Even with this the Sno-Park was full.
We found we were the only snowshoers among hordes of Nordic Skiers. We were completely amazed at the amount of plaid, wool, and knickerbockers. I thought there was only synthetics for outdoor fashion! We started up the groomed trail North of I-90 and soon turned right on to Forest Road 4822 which immediately gains in steepness. Almost all of the Nordic skiers stay on Road 4826, with slight elevation gain to Kachess Lake.
It was fun to gain some elevation, and we were rewarded with great views. At about the three-mile mark the grooming ends and the road forks. Either fork will go to the summit; most parties take the left fork. Some parties had lunch here. The left-hand fork continues to gain elevation, and the trail must now be broken. We also encountered increasingly cold, windy and foggy conditions has we gained elevation.
Gaining the Ridge rewarded us with views both north and south when the clouds permitted. The trees were frozen white with a thick blanket of ice, but the snow was a nice 12" of power. There were nice runs between the trees that looked inviting. After several "I think thats it just ahead", we arrived at the true summit under winter conditions. Fog, snow, wind. It was great fun!
We had the mountain to ourselves, only on our way down did we encounter one solo lady. Staying on the road made for about 10 mile round trip and 2,100 of elevation gain over six hours, and a nice run down.
The Guye Cabin was a welcome site! It was great not to have to drive back to Seattle. Someone had gotten the big stove going in the kitchen (Bill Hooper?) and the dining room was warm and inviting. We met Cynthia Hickey who gave us an interesting history of the WAC, including the exciting bio of its founder, over Thai Tea and Hot Chocolate. The Guye Cabin is a great resource! It was warm, comfortable, and relaxing. It always feels like a vacation!
Using the cabin as a base, there are enough ski and snowshoe trips at Snoqualmie Pass to last more than a season! Besides Commonwealth Basin, Source Lake and Snow Lake are easily accessible. Denny Creek, Kendall Peak Lakes, and Gold Creek Basin offer relatively little elevation gain in gorgeous valleys, while those looking for more elevation might look at Keechelus Ridge, Mt. Catherine, Mt. Margaret, Silver Peak, or even Guye Peak or Snoqualmie Mountain.
Knowledge of avalanche awareness and safety are essential on any trip in the Cascades during winter. Please dont forget to bring the 10 Essentials and check the Avalanche Forecast at http://www.seawfo.noaa.gov/products/SABSEA before you go!
Annette Lake 3,600 December 08, 2001
The Trailhead is up I90 at Exit 47, Asahel Curtis. Turn right and cross the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River, and park at the access road. They are not plowing the road all the way to the Trailhead.
Joined by Tilmann Gneiting, Doerte, and I got started about 08:45 am. We knew we were in for a fine day, since we could see Little Tahoma, and most of Mount Rainier crossing Lake Washington. We walked the .5 miles to the real Annette Lake Trailhead, 1,900, before putting on our snowshoes. It is 3.5 miles more to Lake Annette. We worked hard, breaking trail, the going slow. The trail stayed well above Humpback Creek and was not hard to follow until the very end.
As the day warmed up we had to put our Gortex jackets and hats on to stay dry. The great mounds of snow resting in the limbs of the big pines began to fall, sending clumps of snow and rain on our heads. We had fun listening to the sound of snow falling, "thump" "womp" "woosh" sounding like footsteps of a group of sasquatch.
We had wonderful views of Granite Mountain, 5,629 to the north. The lookout was easy to see. We also looked across the valley to Humpback Mountain, 4,883. There were six clearings to cross which gave us some avalanche concern, but we finally arrived at the Annette Lake, 3,600, covered under 4 feet of silky powder. The snowshoes provided no float at all and we sank up to our waists in the snow!
Above us was Silver Peak, 5,605 and Abiel Peak. The connecting ridge was blown clear of snow. Later in the season the ridge will be nicely corniced. We dreamed of the summits while we had lunch, but headed back down when the days weather began to move in.
The trip down was fast and easy. Rain began to fall so we headed for the cabin to warm up and have some coffee. 1,700 gain, 8 miles, and six hours for the day.
Kaleetan Peak 5,259' July 04, 2001 Dragontail Peak 8,840 June 30/July 01, 2001 Cashmere Mountain 8,501' June 16/17, 2001 Ingalls Peak 7,662 June 09, 2001 Little Annapurna 8,440' May 26/28, 2001 Colchuck Peak 8,705' May 19/20, 2001
Mount Ellinor 5,944 June 03, 2001 The trailhead is located off the Lake Cushman road from Hoodsport, at 3,500. There is also a lower trailhead that is used in the winter and very early season. The trailhead is well marked, and the trail is in excellent condition. It looks like the WTA was working there recently as the trail is beautiful! It follows a ridge up to a junction at about 4,500. Here was a sign offering the summer route or chute. There were only a few tracks going toward the summer route. The snow began at this point and was well consolidated and firm. Angling right, in a few minutes we arrived at the much talked about chute. The lower part was melted out but within 100 we were back in the hard pack. The weather was cool and cloudy, so we had to kick steps up the narrow chute. We used our ice axes, but some other parties didnt have them. It was strange ascending the chute in the cloud, visibility sometimes only a 100, but great fun for 1000 up to a small basin. The visibility was so poor we were unsure which way to the summit. We met a fella coming down who pointed us in the right direction. Soon we were standing on the summit block admiring the non-existent views! Mt. Ellinor was named for Ellinor Fauntleroy of Seattle in 1856. It would be fun to do the traverse over to Mt. Washington, 6,255. The Climbers Guide to the Olympic Mountains says to allow 3 hours for this. One guy told us where to find the trailhead for Mt. Washington, so it would be fun long day trip to ascend Mt. Washington, do the traverse to Mt. Ellinor and then down the chute. The way back down the chutes was fast and fun. Mike Garrison said this was one of the best glissades in the state, and hes right! Plunge stepping and glissading! Doerte and I practiced our self-arrest skills on the steeper sections. We were back at the car at 2 p.m. for 4 hours round trip. A fun, easy trip, that has the feel of a bigger mountain.
|Colchuck Lake May
Beginning at the Stuart Lake Trailhead, down the 8 Mile Lake Road, the Stuart Lake Trail follows Mountaineer Creek. The trail maintains a steady grade for 2.5 miles until it reaches a marked junction. To the right will take you to Lake Stuart in two miles, or to the left to Colchuck Lake. The snow really begins at this point, but the path is easy to follow after it crossed Mountaineer Creek for the last time on a narrow bridge. Good boots and gaiters are a must to stay dry.
The trail rises steeply for two miles and 1,270 up to Colchuck Lake, 7,750, a beautiful, (but frozen on this day) blue-green lake below big Colchuck Peak, and Dragontail Peak, towering almost 1,000 above. Climbers can ascend the Colchuck Col. to bag both of these peaks in a day if the conditions are good and they are fast. To the left is Aasgard Pass, the climbers route to the Enchantments and Snow Lakes.
We say a couple parties come down both the Pass and the Col., little specks on the snow. The skiers we talked to complained of mushy snow, rocks, and bad conditions. One guy came in the Snow Lake Trail, over Aasgard Pass, and out Mountaineer Creek, a 22 mile plus trip the hard way! On a day trip to boot! Doerte and I did 9 miles and 2,270 for the day.
Fourth of July Creek May 12 2001
Doerte and I had wanted to do this one for a while. We always like to visit former or existing lookout sites. The trailhead is 9.4 miles down the Icicle Creek Road, if you get to Lower Johnny Creek Campground you have gone to far.
The trail gains a wild 4,800 in its debatable 5 miles. Ira says it is closer to 6. The trail is in good condition, and a little brushy higher up. We checked for ticks, but didnt find any. The snow started about 5,500 but there was a pretty good trail broken, by the party ahead of us. Mt. Cashmere, 8,501, across Icicle Creek, loomed bigger and closer as we gained elevation.
Finally, around 6,000, the trail disappeared under the snow, and it was a bushwack the rest of the way to the ridge. On the ridge I found the sign for the junction with the Icicle Creek Trail, half buried in the snow. We postholed above our knees., and the hiking sticks sank in almost all the way.
We could see the Thumb from below, and I was almost sure that was not the lookout site, but once on the Ridge, I saw it was the high point, 7,029. It was a fun scramble up to the top, where bolts were driven into the rock to hold the lookout in place on the big rock. The story goes that the lookout eventually was struck by lightening and burned down. The views were fantastic in all directions, Glacier Peak, Mt Stuart, and the entire range, and Mount Daniel all easily visable.
A long dry, dry, fast hike down. There is no water other than one spring under the snow. We noticed many flowers that we had missed on the way up. 3 hours up, and 2 hours down.
Olympic Front Range April 14/15, 2001
Rain and snow in the higher elevations, with unstable conditions, brought us to the Olympic Front Range. With a little luck, and sun breaks we were hoping for views of Puget Sound, Seattle, and even the big Volcanos of the Cascades. All three of these short trips are accessed from Highway 101.
Mount Walker has a road to the top, but also a really nice trail that gains 2,024 in 3.1 miles to the North Summit. A .6 mile walk along the road to the South Summit rewards us with even better views, but still limited views of Puget Sound.
A good early season training trip, one guy we met, getting ready for Hood, and then Rainier was going to do it twice to get some gain in.
Jefferson Ridge begins off the Hamma Hamma Road. The trail begins at 2,200 and soon enters a big clear cut until it gains the ridge. The views are wonderful, like being in the middle of a big horseshoe shaped valley of steep, snow covered peaks. The ridge finally tops out at 3,825 at the remains of a Lookout. 1,625 gain, 3.8 miles round trip. The Brothers, Mount Lena, Mt. Skokomish, Mt. Henderson, Mt. Cruiser, and Mt. Pershing, all are a seemingly stones throw away.
South Mountain, 3,070 trail begins about 20 miles from Highway 101, beginning in the Skokomish River Valley. An interesting drive, through some of biggest clear cuts we have ever seen! Finally we begin heading up South Mountain on the steep logging road, eventually coming to a stop on the saddle between the main summit and East Summit. The Summit once held a Lookout, but since there are few trees left in the valley far below, there is no need for the lookout any longer.
We were really at the South end of the Olympics! Fantasic views looking north if we shielded our eyes from the clear cuts. Not having enough we walked the 1.5 miles to the East Summit to look at all the communication towers, dishes, and antennas. We also saw a throng of dirt bikers zoom by. This is National Forest and we needed a trail park pass, but it was not that pleasant. Nice views of Mount Constance and the Olympic Range. The Cascades and Mount Rainier were not out on this day. Do you want to see what logging really looks like, take a trip out to South Mountain.
Carbon Glacier Cataract Valley March 17, 2001
Doerte and I wanted to get a pretty good trip in on this last weekend of winter, so we decided to head up the Carbon River Road in Mount Rainier National Park. The forecast was for rain all weekend, and the sky was very overcast.
The road is usually closed at the Carbon River Ranger Station because of snow, but this year it was open all the way to the Isput Creek Campground. In years past we had hiked, biked and snowshoed into the Campground, at the end of the road.
There were a couple parties camped and having breakfast when we arrived at 8 am. We met Volunteer Ranger "Flash" at the trailhead. We had met him twice on previous trips, and he reported the trail dry or with little snow. With this report, we left the snowshoes and heading up toward the Carbon Glacier, 3.5 miles away. Soon we were in new snow and it gradually got deeper as we gained elevation. The sky although cloudy didnt rain on us. However, the snow melting from the trees, keep us in our rainjackets for the entire day. It was fun to hear the thumps of great piles of snow falling to the ground from a treelimb high up.
The Suspension Bridge crossing the Carbon River was exciting. With almost a foot of snow on the slats it swung and bounced merrily, simulating the earthquake a couple weeks ago. One person at a time please!
We went as far as the toe of the Carbon Glacier, about 4,400, under the Northern Crags, before Doerte and I, and Flash, all turned around. We had hoped to make Mystic Lake, but with the new snow that will have to wait a few more weeks. This Glacier must be the lowest on Mount Rainier?
Since it was still before noon, we decided we would head up the Spray Park Trail toward Seattle Park and see how far we could get. There was one party ahead of us that broke the trail for a while, but they soon turned around. The trail switchbacks up Marmot Creek to the Cataract Valley Camp. This is a great winter trail, mostly through the woods, with no avalanche danger. We had great views of Mother Mountain across the valley, but nothing of Mount Rainier higher up. The cloud ceiling stayed at 5,500. We had fun listening to a couple of avalanches very high up on the mountain above us.
We continued past Cataract Valley Camp to about 5,300 before we turned around. In some places the new snow was almost waist deep! We sure could have used those snowshoes resting quietly in the back of the truck. A week earlier a party of four had made it to Seattle Park, above 6,000 with hardly any snow!
We got back to the trailhead about 5 p.m. satisfied with our 11 mile day, and a little over 3,000 gain. Well have to return to visit Mystic Lake and take a look at the Liberty Ridge Route across the Carbon Glacier.
Mount St. Helens March 10, 2001
Dave and I drove down Friday after work to the Marble Mountain Sno-Park. It was not a very pleasant camp. Climbers, skiers, and snowboarders were all camped with snowmobilers and it was quite noisy until midnight and then again beginning at 5 a.m. One party showed up at 5 am and was oblivious to anyone being asleep even though there were tents and sleeping bags everywhere! Finally, the whole camp got up since it was not use to even try sleeping any longer.
We had picked up our free permit at Jacks on the way through, but we had to drive back to Cougar in the morning to get the 8-buck Sno-Park permit. We finally got started about 7 a.m.
The trail, although snow covered, was hardpack and we didnt use the snowshoes. We passed several parties winter camping. After 2.5 miles the trail leaves treeline and heads up Monitor Ridge to the crater. In another mile we put on our crampons as the ridge steepened. When we finally climbed out of the cloud, we saw there were about 40 people making the climb. Only Mounts Rainier, Adams, Hood, and Jefferson could be seen above the cloud layer below. There was a bit of powder near the summit, but not a good ski or snowboard day overall.
On the rim, we put all our clothes on to stay warm in the wind. A couple hours earlier I had only a T-shirt on! There were fantastic cornices built all around the crater, and the wind whipped the snow into weird shapes. Several people got close enough to the edge to warrant words of caution.
Dave and I could not resist going around to the northwest to try for the true summit. None of the other parties went to take a look and there were no visible tracks in the snow. We finally broke out the ice axes for self-belays, since the traverse was steep. The wind was really blowing! Several times we had to hunker down, cover up, and wait for it to stop. It felt like it was trying to blow us off the mountain! Finally, we reached the high point, took a quick picture, then started our long traverse back to the main route.
By now the snow on was softening up, and anyone without snowshoes would posthole up to their waists. We glissaded where we could on the way down, and finally made it back to the trailhead at 6 p.m. for an eleven-hour day. A great winter climb, but the snow was hard and wind scoured so not that great for skis or snowboards.
Hurricane Hill Olympic National Park March 03/04, 2001
Mount Angeles was our first choice but with a foot of new snow covering the steep route, called the Switchback Trail, and the parking area unplowed, we opted to go for Hurricane Hill. This trail starts at the little visitor center on Hurricane Ridge and follows the closed road for a mile or so, and then continues on for two more miles to the little summit of Hurricane Hill. Earlier parties had broken separate ski and snowshoe trails.
The snow was great, over a foot of new, on top of a very little base. Hurricane is aptly named because the wind must really blow here when a storm comes through. The west side of the Hill was almost bare of snow, while the east side was piled high. Great skiing and snowshoeing! The views were off and on all day, but quite spectacular! They must be amazing on a rare clear day.
We spent the night camping overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fucca in an almost deserted County Campground fighting off the raccoons. There were only 5 parties camping. We had a couple beers and a great fire while listening to the waves smashing the rocks below. Once in the summer the only space available was about ten feet between two huge RVs! We kept on driving!
In the morning we headed for Mount Ellinor over in the Front Range above Hood Canal. Doerte and I knew we wouldnt have much time after driving, but wanted to get a look at the mountain. We drove in the Lake Cushman road, then just followed the signs up the road until the snow became too deep to drive. We set out walking, but only made it to just beyond the lower trailhead. The views of Mount Ellinor, 5944, and Mount Washington, 6255, and the views east to the Sound were spectacular! A couple of parties were higher up, but we opted to wait for a better day when the snow was consolidated a bit. There were probably 10 parties on the road, but only the two making a serious attempt at the mountain.
Mount Angeles, Mount Ellinor, and Mount Washington all will make excellent early season trips, and should be doable with the continued fine weather our drought is bringing us.
Camp Muir Trip Report February 24/25 2001
The typical weather of this winter, mostly sunny and dry, was forecast to continue for the weekend, so we scrapped our plans of a high snow camp in a whiteout, and headed for Camp Muir. The Park Service didnt open the road to Paradise until 10 am because of the new snow that fell overnight.
It was almost 11 am before Doerte, Dave, and myself finally left Paradise, at 5,600 and headed up, breaking a new trail as we went. We were soon passed by lighter, faster parties, and were relieved of the task of breaking trail. The new snow was light, fluffy, powder! There was anywhere from 4 to 8 inches of new snow covering the hard pack.
For the first time in three trips this year we found Panorama Point, at about 6,800 with no wind! We had a brief snack, enjoyed the views, and then passed an empty tent as we slowly snowshoed higher and followed the East Ridge on the Muir Snowfield. A few fast traveling skiers passed us before they would remove their skins and begin their fantastic run down.
Passing by Anvil Rock the hike became torture as we expected to arrive at Camp Muir any minute, but never seemed to get any closer. Doerte left us behind and headed for the Hut to save us some spots to sleep. I started to get cold, my slow trek to 10,000 not generating enough body heat to keep me warm.
Finally, I reached the almost deserted Camp Muir! There were no RMI, no tents, and only two parties in the Hut. We soon had the stove going and warmed and revived ourselves with hot tea, before witnessing the most beautiful sunset ever! The scattered clouds below us turned every shade of crimson, red, violet, and vermilion! The one-day-old new moon and Venus welcomed one of the best star shows in memory.
Everyone was busy melting snow, trying to warm up by consuming hot drinks and hot food to ward off the coming cold night. The weather service said it was 15 degrees at Camp Muir. I am unsure if this was the high or the low. I suspect the high! After dinner, at only 8 pm everyone retired to their bags to wait out the cold night. I had expected hearty games of dominos, story telling, and singing! We all pretended to sleep until Dave finally summoned the nerve to get up to find the mens room. One by one the nine of us followed him out into the cold night. However, I counted 15 exits into the night from the Hut!
We all survived the cold night intact, and one by one soon lit the stoves and began making hot drinks and oatmeal. Two or three members of the party of four headed up the Cowlitz Cleaver to look at the Gibraltar Ledges Route. The wind was horrendous off the summit, and we didnt envy them facing the brunt of it. After attaining the Cleaver they soon come back down.
Doerte and I headed down; once again breaking trail, as the well-worn trail of yesterday was blown and covered over by the nights winds. Dave soon came blasting by with perfect turns on his snowboard, making this classic run of 4,500 with perfect powder and perfect weather!
We met up again with Steve from Portland and his Canadian friend, Jeff, at their tent above Panorama Point where they camped on Friday night. They said the visibility was about 30 that night! They are training for a trip to Denali in June! There were three other parties camped at various places between Panorama Point and Camp Muir.
All three parties reached Paradise about the same time in the early afternoon. Great people and a great trip! We had perfect weather for our trip, but wind, clouds, and snow, could turn this trip into a bad experience. We were all prepared for the worst of conditions, but fortunately had only the best.
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