Thursday, December 29, 2011

Little Peak 3440' 600'P 12.29.11

For once I had a plan for this day however the weather had other plans for me. I wanted to stay on the West side of the crest but when I made my way up I-90 the rain was torrential and making it worse it was quite warm. Not enthused with spending a day getting drenched I kept driving without a destination in mind. I hoped the weather would be better East of the crest. As I made my way towards Easton the skies showed no sign of letting up. As I neared the Nelson Siding Road I felt an urge to turn off so I did. As I made my way down Nelson Siding I remembered a couple of previous trips in the area. I used the Granite Creek Trailhead but I remember that the road continues with two other trailheads further along. This seemed like a good day to do some exploring. The road turns into a groomed snowmobile road so I had to turn around and park. The rain was still pounding as I suited up.

   Thankfully I had enough gear to stay dry and shortly after leaving the car the rain magically stopped. I walked the road which seemed to lose more elevation than it gained. The road was well packed making for easy travel. I reached a junction and chose the one heading up hill. After another mile I reached a saddle and took the branch heading SW. I didn't have a  map so I wasn't sure but it seemed the road was heading to a distinct point giving the day a worthy goal. I was able to see a snowshoe trench heading towards the ridge crest so I followed. I was happy to see that there was some foot traffic making me feel a little less crazy. At least I wasn't alone in my pursuit of some unnamed high point. The ridge is long set off small bumps which would be much easier to bypass by staying on the road. Since I didn't know this I thought each bump would be the summit. Since I thought each bump was the summit I resisted putting on the snowshoes. Becoming frustrated of this up and down regimen I rejoined the road until the summit came into view....... or in this case another false summit. Finally I reached a point that was considerably steeper and after topping out I was pleased that it was the summit. The summit has some good views to the North and there is a nice plaque commemorating a local father.

Not looking to get any wetter I decided to head out before the rain returned. After rejoining the main line of the road the rain returned with a vengeance making for slushy walking. The road seemed to go on forever, just before reaching the car I met up with a large group of cross country skiers just heading up the road. I sure did get some funny looks, I am sure they weren't expecting to see a drowned rat carrying a pack heading out.

Approx 8 miles 1500' of climb 4:30 car to car

Monday, December 26, 2011

Holder Knob 1110+ 12.26.11

With the kids having indulged themselves, along with myself, over the holiday weekend I thought it best to get out. I wanted to take advantage of both the dry weather and the kids being off from school. I wasn't looking to go far so a return trip to the Taylor Mt. area was perfect. In the Spring we had climbed Holder Ridge and but did not climb Holder Knob. I thought it was a perfect fit for this day.

  The parking lot is just South of the Hobart-Issaquah/Hy 18 junction. I was very surprised on the amount of cars in the parking lot. There were very few spots to left to park. Most of the rigs were horse trailers and we were soon treated to a group of 7 returning as we were prepping to leave. I always marvel at horses, there sheer size in inspiring. We headed up the nice logging road reversing the route we had used in the Spring. Once reaching the junction with the Holder Ridge Trail we left the road taking the trail North. Soon we reached another junction and continued North on the Holder Knob Trail. The trail itself was muddy but manageable for all the little feet. In short order we were able to reach the summit area and snapped some pictures. A nice trailrunner took a family picture for me since I was struggling to do so on my own. I was thankful the whole family was able to stay upright on the way out on the very slippery trail. For fun we left the trail as it parallels the access road and went cross country to regain the road. It was very fun to get the girls out and have them both add a summit to their growing lists.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cabin Mt. Wanderings 12.20.11

I had an extremely taxing weekend so I made a nice fire and spent some good family time relaxing on Monday. With all that time doing very little you would think that I would have had time to make plans for the next day. I instead gave it very little thought with the expectation of winging it in the morning. By the time I got motivated it was nearly 10 am giving me a sparse amount of daylight hours. I was hoping for a quick efficient climb of Cabin Mt.  via the North. I used the Cabin Creek Road via Easton and had some trouble finding the best place to park. The roads were not exactly matching my map and I lost considerable time before parking .25 short of the turnaround and followed a well travelled road that was heading in the general direction of my intent. In the future I will access this area from the Cabin Creek Road from I-90 cutting down on the amount of walking

   The road led to the train tracks which were heading directly in the direction I wanted to go. Walking train tracks was a new experience for me and it took some experimenting to find the most efficient method. I even tried just walking on the rail which was the easiest but soon lost it's appeal. Once I reached a road that led to Cabin Creek Cabins I left the railroad tracks for a logging spur heading towards the power lines. Once I reached the powerline road I followed until I reached a high point. I switched to snowshoes and left the road for the nice consolidated snow of the clear cut. The snow made for an enjoyable climb as I used the sparse trees as slalom cones. The snow covered all the unpleasantness of what lay beneath it. I angled towards some larger standing timber that looked rather choked so I paralleled the clearcut in the dripline of the trees making for even easier travel. Finally I ran out of clearcut and entered the trees. After 200' of climb I popped out on another road that had been driven on making for easier travel. Since the road wasn't on my map I was curious. Since the road was rather steep and packed I felt like it may be the fastest method to reach Cabin Mt's summit.  I resisted a few times where there were options to leave for a more direct line. At around 4200' I reached the end of the road. Looking up and seeing another 600' to go and without the time to reach it, I decided to head back. I had to be back early and I knew I wouldn't be able to make the summit in my allotted time.

  The weather started to move in and became quite windy, thankfully the wind abated as I descended lower. Making my way over the most varied terrain was quite enjoyable on the way out. I was very happy to get out and stretch the legs and give the dog a good run even though nothing substantial was achieved.

Approx 6 miles 2000' of climb 3:30 car to car

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lizard Lake, Pt. 4120'+

With the benign weather holding out I was set for another day out. It looked like I would have a nice team so I hatched a plan to do Arrowhead via the less trodden West ridge. Slowly members of the team dropped out until in the end I was the only one remaining. I didn't feel like trying for Arrowhead solo so I decided to decide on the way. I had only a few maps loaded into my new phone so I had a short list to work from. I was in the mood for something with very little route finding and a low amount of trailbreaking. I had a map of Dandy Mt. which is just above Stampede Pass and this would provide some miles mostly on groomed snowmobile tracks. I parked outside of the fee area near where the road has been blocked by piled snow. I suited up with the temps in the low teens, thankfully there wasn't much wind.

   I left the road and cut the switch backs using a nice snowmobile track.. Soon I reached Stampede Pass. I left the road at the intersection diving into the trees. The snow was highly variable with some heavy rain crust and some areas of deep powder. Leaving the snowshoes in the car started to come back to bite me as the snow was made for annoying travel. Soon my objective came into view and I was off line, in order to work my ways back on the right path I would have to drop some elevation and make my way through a wide area of softer snow. Not feeling it I instead kept climbing in the direction I was heading finding more favorable snow conditions. I topped out on a small point and had lunch.

  I quickly descended back to the road and followed it over Stampede Pass and on to Lizard Lake. The road gives great access to the lake and it was locked with ice for the season. There were numerous snowmobile tracks across the lake. Looking forward to getting home early I made my way the 4.5 miles back to the car.  It was good to stretch the legs a bit and give the dog a nice run.

Approx 10 miles 4 hours car to car 2000' of climb

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bluebirds on Snoqualmie Mt., 6278'

Of late I haven't had much time to dedicate to climbing but the stars lined up with stable snow conditions, perfect weather, good company and most importantly a full day to devote to my mountain escapades. I really wanted to do WildDare via Dingford Creek but Rob and Fletcher wanted some South facing slopes to ensure some quality time with the warm sun. I was disappointed because I was kind of set on doing WildDare and I had already done Snoqualmie. I am completely selfish when it come to picking trips, I will do any trip as long as it is what I want to do. Trying to be more accommodating I relented and went with the majority. As it turns out it was a perfect choice for this day.  Since the climbers trail is efficient we pushed back our meet time 90 minutes. We left Issaquah under dirty fog. Soon after passing North Bend the sun broke out and remained unbroken for the entire day. In fact a fairly strong inversion made the upper slopes of Snqoqualmie rather warm, a nice bonus.

  We parked at the Alpental parking lot as another solo was suiting up to do Chair peak, too cool. The dog seemed more interested in following him and I had to run after and thankfully was able to retrieve the dog. I found a nice boot path so we left the shoes in the car. The trail went to a nice sledding slope and I used this for efficient climbing. I traversed to climber's right to find the boot bath that was going our way. The trail was easy to follow but there wasn't a huge amount of travel but it did help with route finding.

The views started to open up

The going was steep and I really didn't have the legs or this climb. I was very thankful for my partners being patient as I slowly plodded along. We finally reached a junction with the majority of traffic traversing to the pass just North of Guye Peak. I followed a single track heading up the ridge that would take us to our destination. The going was steep so we all put on crampons although they probably not a necessity. Once leaving the trees the snow softened considerably slowing progress. The views kept improving.

I really struggled on the last part. Since I had already been on the summit I had a tough time keeping myself motivated but in the end I kept chugging along and I was proud of myself for pushing through a weak minded day. Thankfully the summit came into view. It did seem the Western point was the highest so I forced myself to make my way there despite my legs complaining.

I was  concerned for the descent because portions had been steep and icy on the ascent. I was thankful that there was some sun to warm the snow. But as is some things go too much isn't a good thing. The snow on the less steep portions was very soft and many postholes were enjoyed by all.

The descent went exceedingly quick and much to my pleasure we all reached the car with out issues.

Approx 5 miles 3300' of climb 5:30  car to car

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