Sunday, June 26, 2011

Little Kachess 5194' Kachess Beacon 4615'' 6.26.11

With the first day of a mini vacation underway I thought I would take an opportunity to get out. The weather was ideal, I had hoped to do a big day but I wasn't sure what time I would be free to leave so I played it by ear. I am still cautious with my foot but I wanted a day to at least give it a test. I had tried a couple times in the recent past for a winter ascent of Little Kachess 5194' which is the next bump along the ridgeline after Kachess Beacon and before the main summit of Kachess Ridge which is further North. I made good time to Easton and was stunned with the more than 15 cars at the Silver Creek/Easton Ridge Trailhead. I was expecting some crowding but not to this extent.

   I was able to make my way up the climber's trail that goes to Kachess Beacon. I had planned on staying on the Silver Creek Trail well into the basin before heading up. I made a last second change of plans and headed up the dusty climber's trail to the Beacon. The trail is very easy to follow and in mostly good shape. The flowers were out that helped distract myself from my overall lack of fitness. I was amazed that the on a previous trip that I was able to follow the trail perfectly  while it was buried under snow when I didn't even know it was there. I reached the Beacon in short order and met up with a group of 3 who had just returned from a short stab at following the ridge North. The Ridge is a pleasant walk with some meadowy areas and very minimal brush. I crested a small point and had to drop to the East steeply to hit consolidated snow. From here the route was plainly in site and I chugged up the fun ridge to the nice summit perch. I was unable to find a register. The views are bountiful and I found the West Cabin Creek Peak to be quite impressive. From my vantage point I was surprised that I was able to reach it's summit many years ago with very minimal issues. I snapped a few pictures and enjoyed the warm sun.

    I retraced my steps until I reached the area where I had dropped off the ridge and instead of regaining the ridge I merely did a descending traverse to the South. There is still plenty of snow on the Eastern side of the ridge and thankfully I was able to get just enough footing to make leaving my crampons in the car an non issue. I was able to reach dry land around 4400' which only lasted for a few hundred feet before I again reached snow in the basin. It seemed like I had descended forever and I hadn't been able to sniff out the trail under the snow. I wasn't overly concerned but I had to laugh as I spotted two young women on the trail just as I was about to step on to it.  I found out they were heading for the Beacon and weren't aware that the trail they were on didn't go there. I gave them some options and said my goodbyes. The basin seemed like an eternity of rotten snow and sketchy snow bridges and I was very thankful to finally reach the descent and leave the snow behind.

   It was a great day to be out and I was thankful that there were no bugs which I don't believe will last too much longer. The foot was pretty gimpy for the last mile but it seems to be fine this evening

Approx 8 miles 3100' of climb 4:45 car to car

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

North Fork Fortune Creek 6.21.11

I had an appointment in Suncadia that I couldn't make as early as I would have liked and the meeting took twice as long as I had hoped so I was pressed for time. I wanted to do something on the shorter side anyway so I thought heading up the Fortune Creek Jeep Road as far as I could drive and then making my way to Van Epps Pass would be an interesting trip. I had hoped to summit 7039' which is an unamed highpoint of the connecting ridge with the Ingall's complex. Recent trip reports of nearby peaks yielded some pictures of the route and snow conditions so I felt like even with no beta I would have little issue. Digging around last night I was able to find one report and it made me feel like this was the time of year to attempt the peak with  snow now covering the scree. I was able to drive to about a 1.5 short of the North Fortune Creek Trail where I was stopped by an avalanche that has crossed the road but hasn't melted as of yet. The road is best suited for a high clearance vehicle and I probably wouldn't have tried to continue anyway.

 I changed out of my suit, which was a first for me, into my gear and started huffing up the road. The road is in much better shape past the short snowy stretch and soon I found myself at the trailhead. Instead of following the trail I decided that I wanted a more direct line to my goal and left the road to go cross country. I rejoined the road just before it crosses North Fortune Creek. I was dismayed by the high water and wasn't sure if crossing was a good idea. I had a chuckle to myself thinking back to my meeting when I had commmented on the high water in the lakes as I made my way over the pass. I remember saying " at least I won't have to cross any significant water". I had this feeling , as I sometimes do, that I shouldn't have said that. I had been on the trai above me once before on my climb of Scatter Peak. I couldn't remember the crossing but I figured it would be easier than my current position. I again started off cross country up the steepish grade. I was instantly reminded of my recent inactivity and lack of fitness as I struggled up the grade. I tried to stay in the shade because while it wasn't hot it was much warmer than at any time so far this year. I usually have issues on the first warm day and this was no exception. I joined the trail about 500' of climb. I followed it a short ways untl reaching the creek. The water had washed away most of the tread and the creek bed was a jumbled torrent with very poor runout. I decided to have my lunch in view of the Ingall's complex and be contented with just getting out. I ambled back to the car for the long drive home.

Approx 5 miles 1000' of climb

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Iron Peak (Teanaway) 6510'

I had an unexpected day free so I thought I would give the foot a truer test. I had hoped to do Lennox but with the poor weather and being a bit ambitious or the first time back I decided to do something a bit less taxing. I hoped the weather to be better in Teanaway and since I love the area in Spring I thought it to be a good bet. Originally I had hoped to tag Volcanic Neck and Devil's Head but my later than normal start prevented doing that. I decided that I would just do Iron Peak even though I have done it a few times before. I figured the trail would be mostly snow filled and I really wanted to spend some time on snow. I was happy to find sunny weather albeit very windy as I parked at the Iron Peak Trailhead. I liberally applied sunscreen to ensure I wouldn't be emblazoned with some painful memories. I really didn't know what to expect with both my healing of a torn tendon in my foot and more so with my fitness level. The foot gave me no issues and I was pleased to find my legs better than expected. Around 5000' I hit consistent snow and switched to snowshoes although they probably weren't needed. I felt like since I brought them I should probably use them.

   I purposely kept a slow even pace and just took the path of least resistance because the trail is still buried under over 3' of snow. I soon made it to the last steeper push to the saddle between Iron and Gene's Peak. The wind was howling along the ridgeline so I was very thankful that I had packed for this. I layered up with a third shirt and my windbreaker, gloves, and a stocking cap. I started South along the ridge trying to stay as far West as I could to avoid tempting the dog to wander over to the huge cornices that line the Eastern edge of the ridge. Once reaching the summit I tried to find a windless spot without success, but I did linger to glance over the many entries in the summit register. After signing the register I decided to head down looking for more comfortable conditions. Instead of retracing my steps I headed more West and plunged stepped down to the basin below. I did take off my snowshoes at the summit which provided a tense moment when I punched through awkwardly and couldn't get my foot out. I feared it was wedged between some rocks but after some gymnastics moves to get my self in a position that I could dig it out it thankfully was freed. Once in the basin below I found the a tree well to have lunch and soak up the last of the waning sun. The stiff wind was blowing in the next system and it even started to snow for a short time. Soon I was back to the car and thankfully the foot felt reasonably well. Hopefully tomorrow will not reveal any further issues. It was very good to back out. I have been on the bench for the longest stint of my adult life.  As I listened to the Mariner's game on the drive home it hit me how much I love being able to get out and all the satisfaction that it entails.

Approx 6 miles 2600' of climb 4 hours car to car

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