Monday, May 21, 2007

Chatter Creek 5.21.07

I once again had grand plans and I knew everything would have to align perfectly to achieve the day's goal. The plan was to use the Chatter Creek Trail to make a summit attempt of Grindstone Mt. The day started off well enough I managed to get out of bed at the unseemly hour of 0400 and was soon on the road. I was happy to stop and pick up Coasty who was once again brave enough to spend the day with me and the dingos. As we crossed over Snoqualmie Pass I was suprised to see the temp at 34 degrees.... isn't almost June? I knew we were in serious trouble when snow removal crews were out in force clearing Blewett Pass. To make matters worse I was pulled over for passing in a no passing zone wasting even more precious time. I really don't know what the officer was talking about I was clearly in a passing zone. We finally made it to the moved Chatter Creek Trailhead and after some gear repair and repacking for cooler temps we were off. The new trail is meaners while gaining elevations slowly until it merges with the old trail. For the next 1500ft it gets down to business. We hit new snow at around 3300ft making for most unpleasant travel. The trail is moderately brushy which was compounded by the wet heavy snow plastered to everything. At around 4300ft the trail crosses two branches of Chatter Creek. The first we managed by scooting across a well placed log. The second crossing gave us much more trouble we were forced to drop down quite a ways before we found a suitable crossing. After the crossing the trail became much harder to follow but I managed to keep us on route until well into the basin. There was enough snow in the basin that following the trail became unimportant. Grindstone is a huge mountain and it was very inspiring for me to see it plastered with new snow. By now the weather had warmed well into the 50's giving me plenty worry about the avy conditions. Soon my fears were realized when we heard some healthy avy's let go. It was apparent that time and the snow conditions were not on our side so we hunkered down at 5400ft for an extended lunch. It was simply amazing waiting for the next slide to release. Our route was clearly in front of us and it will still be there next time I try. The way out went rather quickly and we had much less trouble with the creek crossing even though the water was much higher. We both were suprised when there was hardly any signs that it had snowed on the lower reaches of the trail.




approx 8 miles 2800+ of climb 5:30 car to car





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