Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Atrium Peak 5359' Big Heart Lake 10.5.10

With an expected stellar weather day on tap I wanted to make the most of it. ONELUV1 signed up for a long trail day. I had been to Big Heart Lake 10 years ago when my wife and I made the jaunt to an overlook of Angeline lake where I proposed, so needless to say I many fond memories of the area. The goal was to climb the high point between Angeline and Big Heart Lakes at 5359' Atrium ranks #73 on the Home Court list. While there is a way trail that nearly goes overtop Atrium, the distance from the Trout Lake Trailhead is a worthy defense.

 I picked up ONELUV1 at the Issaquah Park and Ride and we were off under foggy skies. I wondered if I had misread the weather forecast when we stopped in Skykomish and it was still cloudy. But as we hit the trailhead the sun broke through and another cloud was not seen for the entire day. After some footwear debate we both decided to use trailrunning shoes since we would be on trail the entire day. While both are feet were a little sore by the end of the day I believe it was the right choice. Thankfully the trail has been rerouted so we avoided the initial quarter mile of rocky trail. There is some ongoing trailwork so we had to follow some flagging to the temporary crossing of the river. Once again the trail has been rerouted on the West side of the river making route finding easier than my last visit. We stopped for a short time to marvel at the giant tree that the trail goes by. I have to stop in awe each and every time I go by. As we made our way up to Copper Lake we passed a man which surprised me because there were no cars at the parking lot. Evidently he was with a group of 5 who had entered via the East Fork Trail and had done the Alpine Lakes Traverse, too cool. We soon made it to the sun splashed Cooper Lake where we had a short break. Last week we had planned on climbing Malachite and it was good to see some nice views of Malachite's South Face. We made great time to Little Heart and steamed up the climb above the lake. We tanked up on some water and we made our way up the way trail which initially was efficient. The trail traverses towards Angeline dropping some hard fought elevation. We stopped at the overlook of Angeline and I fondly reminisced of days gone by. Thankfully we started climbing again and we left the trail about 200' below the summit. We easily reached the summit for some stunning views and were even treated by a couple of fly overs by some sort of fighter jet. The sun was warm and there wasn't hardly a breath of wind. I can't imagine a more perfect weather day in October or for that matter any other day. While we both considered continuing along the ridge towards Tourmaline Peak in the end returning won out.

  Dropping off the summit I headed more directly back towards Big Heart. We were able to find another trail that was much more direct saving some time. Once back on maintained trail I put my head down and tried to stomp out the many miles back to the car. While the trailrunning shoes sure made climbing quicker and easier the lack of cushion started to wear thin on my feet. We passed a single who was solo camping at Big Heart and seemed quite happy that we were not going to be staying the night. We passed another solo who was planning on camping at Copper Lake. It was good to see some people taking advantage of the great stretch of weather. Thankfully we made it back to the car and had some celebratory beers.

Approx 16 miles 4800' of climb 8:30 car to car

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