Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Roaring Ridge 4988' 12.10.13


As is very common in my life, very strange things seem to happen to me. I was trying to decide where to go and while doing some research on Roaring Ridge I received a PM from Bruce asking me if I thought it would be possible to drive this time of year to Lost Lake which is the jump off point for my intended route for Roaring Ridge. I texted him back with the news that was my intended target area for the morning and thankfully he signed on. I picked him up in Issaquah after braving the 1/8 inch of snow at my house. We made very good time to Crystal Springs and the road to Lost Lake was in great shape. We parked at the intersection right where we first arrived at the lake.

After parking we suited up. While we were getting ready we were serenaded with what sounded like some coyotes. We headed up the packed road and decided to continue right at the next intersection. At the next intersection which didn't show up on my map we headed up the packed road to the left. In short order the road ended. Instead of back tracking back to the proper road we decided to just start climbing. initially the brush was a bit tiresome but I was able to wind my way through the worst of it. There was a few inches of powder over a very slippery crust. For a few areas I wished that I had packed my crampons which I left in the car. We were able to make good time up the moderate slope. We reached an area with a frictionless crust under the powdery snow so we switched to snowshoes to gain better purchase. Finally we reached the ridge and we were rewarded with some fine views of Lake Keechelus below us and some warm sun to boot. In fact the whole day was quite pleasant with the exception to the summit which had a very chilly wind which was thankfully blocked for the entire day by the slope we were climbing.

We bumped our way along the ridge before finally reaching the summit. There was some of the former lookout supports still visible. After some quick snacks we retraced our steps until we reached a logging road and instead of continuing on our ascent route we decided to take the road back. The balance of the trip was a nice easy descent back to the car. It was nice to reconnect with Bruce and have another day out in the hills.

Approx 5 miles 2000' of climb 4 hours car to car

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Phillipa Creek Wanderings with a side of Loch Katrine 12.3.13

I headed up the North Fork of the Snoqualmie today hoping to stretch my legs. I was hoping to head up some logging roads just past the Wagoner Bridge. The road I wanted was washed out recently and I wasn't in the mood to continue. I had some trouble passing some of the active logging in the area. Thankfully making it past the logging trucks without getting stuck in the mud. I decided to head up the gated road that leads to Phillipa Creek. I continued on this road until it degraded into a rough trail. I was able to follow the trail for quite a ways under the snow. I lost the trail in another washout. I had been up the fisherman's trail 25 years ago and I remember it being rather hard to follow. I wasn't interested in continuing with the sparse snow. I believe it would be easier with no snow or ample snow.

I backtracked to a junction where I headed towards Loch Katrine. . The going was a nice steady grade without any brush. The snow deepened as I climbed. I didn't need snowshoes but had I climbed much further I believe they would have been helpful. I was able to find the short trail to the lake without issue. The lake was partially frozen and the wind had a bite to it. I hastily ate my lunch before the pleasant walk back to the car.

Aprox 9 miles 2200' of climb 3:30 car to car

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Snooze Peak (Snoqualmie Pass) 11/26/13

I was  Looking for something I haven't done that didn't involve a long drive and something on the shorter side. After some time looking over maps I honed in on Snooze Peak which is an unnamed high point to the NE of Keechelus Ridge. I wasn't sure how far I would be able to drive the Kachess Lake Road. If I had to park at the traditional snow park area I was good with walking the 3.5 miles to my jump off point. Thankfully I was able to drive all the way to the logging spur I needed. I found a nice area to park and suited up.

The initial portion of the road was a skating rink and it took some care to stay upright. The road degraded into a tangle of small trees so I headed down to the creek looking for a good crossing area of the 3 braids of Gale Creek. Complicating the situation was the brush and the thick coating of ice over anything near the water. A couple of good leaps put me on the proper side of the creek where I climbed steeply back to the road. I followed the road for a short ways until I reached a junction. I headed right for a short ways before I grew weary of the many trees guarding the road. I dived into the forest where I found mostly open travel with snow that had a healthy crust keeping me afloat most of the time. I wasn't quite sure I was on the proper track so I decided to just wing it making sure to pick the options with the most climb and easier going. Soon I recrossed the road and instead of following I kept heading up  keeping to my left. Soon the grade steepened considerably making for slow going. I contemplated adding crampons but the snow was receptive enough to stay in boots alone.  I had read Eastking's report so I was looking for the flat area that he referenced. I surmised I was just East of that area so I continued on a nice gulley going my way. A few hundred feet below the summit I dropped pack and got out my ice axe in case I had some steeper areas yet to climb. Instead I found mostly open and pleasing grade. I was able to see a couple of points, not knowing which was the right one I guessed and headed to the Western one.  Cresting the point I realized I had a few more feet of climb to reach the true summit. The summit has some peak a boo views of High Box and 3 Queens. I followed the ridge dropping to the North finding a better vantage point.

After snapping a few pictures I retraced my way back to the summit. I took some care getting back to my pack. Once reaching my pack I decided to put on crampons for the descent. I think it may have been overkill but it did give me much more confidence for the descent. I was able to follow my prints back to the creek crossing. I was a bit tense with crossing the slippery creek but my fears where completely unfounded. Thankfully I was able to negotiate the skating rink just before the car. A very nice day to be out.

approx. 4 miles 1400' of climb 3:30 Car to Car

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dandy Mountain (Stampede Pass) 11.19.13

Dandy is the unnamed high point just to the SW of Stampede Pass. I had tried a couple times previous via Crystal Springs and was thwarted by poor conditions. I have been out of the loop for some time in regards to snow conditions so I surmised it best to pick a nice safe easy trip to assess the condiitons first hand. I recently bought a new car for my escapades in the mountains so I was eager to see how it would do. I was happy to find the road to Stampede Pass plowed with only minimal snow coverage. I drove until I was about `1.25 miles from the pass and parked. I decided that my legs needed more exercise than my anxiety about getting stuck further up the road.

I found a nice wide spot to park and suited up. I had bought some new boots that I hadn't tested in the snow so I was also curious how they would perform. In the end my feet stayed warm and dry so I was pleased. I headed up the road the short ways to the pass. I continued on the main line for about a half mile after the pass before deciding to head more direclty to the summit. The crux of this trip was the first 75' of climb which was steeper but there was enough snow and soft ground underneath to provide stable footing. Soon the grade eased off and I thought I could see a trail underneath the snow. I was not interested in continuing on the trail so I made my way to a logged area that provided a nice unbroken line heading up. The snow in the open area was much deeper so I switched to snowshoes. I plodded up the slope forgetting how much harder it is to go up hill in the Winter. I parralled a small creek hoping that once higher up I would not have to cross the ravine to continue on. Thankfully I was able to find easier ground higher up. I reached a small flat area before the last push up the rather steep slopes to the summit. Once in the trees again the snow became much more agreeable and soon I found myself on the summit with a distinct lack of views.

I didn't linger long as I retraced my steps back towards the car. Once reaching the area where I thought I had spied a trail I continued on the trail finding a much easier way of connecting to the road. I had a pleasant walk back to the car playing hopscotch with the snowplows. It was nice to finally get out and do something more interesting.

Approx 6 miles 3 hours 1900' of climb

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tiger Montian 5 summit half marathon 10.15.13

Despite the stellar weather I was not able to get out of work long enough to do a trip more suitable for these bonus days of sun.  Wanting to at least get out and stretch the legs I again stayed close to home. I parked at the gate on Tiger Mt. Road. I set off staying right at the first junction. I climbed on the road until I eventually made it over Middle Tiger. Dropping down the short ways to a spur road that connects with the main line. I headed up the steep road climb to West Tiger. I dropped off West Tiger heading to the warming hut. Nice views from the hut. I dropped on the road until I reached junction and headed up to West Tiger 2.  Dropped on overgrown trail heading towards Poo Poo. I reached 15mile Gap and then climbed rather steeply over the summit of 15Mile knob and then on to Poo Poo. Nice views again at Poo Poo.  Paragliders suiting up for a jump and another duo enjoying the waning rays.

  I did want to hang out to watch the Paragliders launch but I had some ways to go and I did want to make it home in time for family dinner.  I turned on the tunes for the balance, closing the loop back at the car

13+ miles 4:32 car to car 3400' of climb.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Vacation's Silver Lining 7.23.13

 After last year's wonderful time at Lake Pend Oreille all the same cast was eager for a repeat visit

We had a wonderful addition this year with  a bayliner, giving us more fun options. We spent a wonderful 6 days enjoying the lake and each other. But as it usually goes time goes way too fast. Before I knew it we were sadly packing up for the long drive home. Sunday was an emotionally draining day coupled with the 6 hour drive home I was spent by the time I unloaded in the wee hours of Monday morning. I had hoped to do an overnighter with the balance of my time off but with such a taxing day I wasn't eager to make it out. I instead ran up Cougar and called it good. My wife had planned a family swim party for Tuesday and it is sometimes better If I take the dog out alleviating some potential problems. With an unexpected window I quickly made plans for a return attempt of Silver Peak. I had made it up the climber's trail a couple of weeks ago but had to turn back due to various reasons.
   I was able to make it to my starting point at a reasonable hour and shortly thereafter I was heading South on The PCT.  It seemed like the climbers trail was much further along the trail on my last visit and I completely walked by it without noticing it. By the time I realized my mistake I was nearly to Mirror Lake. Since I hadn't been before I decided to descend to the lake to check it out. The bugs were out and even a stiff breeze couldn't keep them at bay. I decided to get moving and backtrack to the climber's trail. The climber's trail was much different than a few week's back since most of the snow has now melted out. Soon I found myself on the ridge at a junction, I decided to head towars Silver since I was a bit behind and didn't feel like I had enough time to do a multiple peak day.  The trail along the ridge had some short class 3 sections and I  again found myself at a junction which I headed right. Soon Silver came into view. The first portion of the climb is on loose talus which was a bit tedious with trail running shoes on. I had forgotten to bring my boots so I was forced into using something less desirable. The trail was easy to follow and without any issues I found myself on the summit. There was  a nice couple on the summit that despite the stiff breeze was home to plenty of annoying bugs. I dropped pack for a short time and surveyed the North Ridge which I had hoped to use for my descent route. Feeling it best not to attempt without my boots I decided to instead retrace my route for the descent. Once off the loose talus I enjoyed the nice stroll back to the car.
Approx 9 miles 3400ft of climb

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Silver Peak Remix 7.8.13

Last week's goal of Bandera was left unmet when the trailhead was closed for a SAR rescue. I was able to make the best of it my instead heading to Talapus and Ollalie lake and continuing on to the overlook. It was my first time out with Jeff one of my coworkers. With the heat and it being Jeff's first time out in some time, a more prudent choice. Jeff seemed eager to have a repeat. Always glad to have some tag along with me I was excited. I saw some recent reports of Abiel, Tinkham and Silver. I was eager to give the loop a go.
   Thanks to some good beta I was able to get us to where we needed with only minimal side tracks.  Jeff had asked if he could bring his dog, of course the more the merrier. I didn't kinow what to expect, I knew the dog was smaller. Well I will just say Remix doesn't have much ground clearance. To the little guys credit he appeared to have a great day and did himself proud.  After some discussion we decided to reverse the loop  by heading up the logging road instead of starting on the PCT. The road in good shape and soon we found ourselves at the end of the road. There was a good bootpath that led to a large boulder field. I was able to see the route but Remix wasn't able to negotiate the larger rocks. Jeff carried Remix for a short ways before I decided that I didn't feel good about having to carry the dog over difficult terrain. I decided it best to retreat and head back to the PCT. Thankfully there was some nice running water before the PCT so the dogs could tank up. The sun had burned through and walking the road was a bit hot so I was thankul when the PCT exited the clearcut into the shade. I was surprised that for the balnce of the day there was still plenty of running water. Just after entering the woods there is a campsite that is right in the middle of a former wind event. There are quite a few impressive sized trees blown over. We stayed on the PCT until reaching the climber's trail that reaches the ridge between Tinkham and Silver. The trail is a mild grade and only needs a quick 400' to reach the ridge. The upper portions had steeper consistent snow. The snow was receptive and I made quick work of the snow portion. Once cresting the ridge I decided to quickly retreat back down to keep Jeff from coming up. I was unclear of his level of snow travel and it didn't seem like a good idea to find out for such a limited reward.  We retreated back to the PCT to have lunch. We had lunch in a jumble of trees that had been hit with an avalanche some time ago.
   The bugs were starting to find us so we cut lunch short and headed back.
Approx 7 miles 1700' of climb

Note the climbers trail is cairned and quite hard to miss.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Navaho Pass, Wrong Way Peak 6656' 6/25/13

As usual spring time is tough for me to get out. My wife is immersed in her busy season and I have much added responsiblities. In addition this year I revisted my golf swing taking even more time away from my true passion. After realizing that as much as I enjoyed getting out with my friends on the golf course it was not progressing as quckly as I had hoped. Instead of forcing a square peg in a round hole I decided to revisit the one thing that I enjoy to the fullest no matter what the outcome. While I did try to keep my fitness up by taking the dog on some long walks through the neighborhood I feared that I had lost my edge. I thought I would run the dog around the Issaquah Alps on Monday climbing Cougar and West Squak. While I felt reasonably well I could see the dog was struggling since he had been lacking on the vertical of late.

The weather looked gloomy for Tuesday so I decided to fall back on the Teanaway effect hoping for somewhat dry weather. What to do? I have done most everything in the area. I was surprised to see recent reports of Wrong Way, it seemed to fit the bill, longish, good trail, reasonable grade and a non technical summit. The stage was set, I reached the end of the road at a reasonable hour giving myself penty of time to get back to Snoqualmie Pass BEFORE the road closure for blasting. The crux of this trip was to get both myself and the dog over the locked gate just before the Stafford Creek Trailhead. I managed to get over without too much bother but lifting the dog over the gate proved arduous. Thankfully I was able to get it done on the first try. The weather was pleasant but threatening to rain at any moment. The Stafford Creek Trail was much longer than I had remembered but soon I was just below Navaho Pass. Where the trail switchbacks backs to the pass I continued to the left on a faint trail going directly towards my summit. The going was low angled and open. I crossed the creek and continued climbing until I was able to find easy access to the East Ridge. I was able to see tracks of the recent traffic. If you stay on the South side of the ridge you can avoid the snow alltogether. I instead stayed on snow satisfying my urge to kick steps. I was able to make the summit without any difficulties, I am sure they views are great but the cloud cover prevented me from seeing much of anything. I looked for a resgister but was unable to find one. The descent was spent dodging the sporadic heavy rain showerers. Thankfully I reached the trailhead and I was even more thankful I was able to coax the dog through the gate instead of over it. It was nice to reconnect with my passion.

Approx 13 miles 3700' of climb 5:45 car to car


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

4235' 615' Via Tucker Creek (Easton)

With my last day of my mini vacation upon me I wanted to get out. The weather had been unsettled of late and judging by the fresh snow visible on Tiger Mt. from my house I decided again to keep my outing low key. I needed to find something with lower elevation and with plenty of trees. I had some concern for both the weather and for a heightened avalanche threat. I have made some recent attempts of Goat Mt. Near Easton and I was hoping for the right conditons for an attempt.

I had my annual fishing derby this weekend in preparation for the party I had a full week of yard maintennce. For fun I wore my GPS watch for the three day fun fest of spreading bark. I logged 15 miles and 7000' of climb in those 3 days without leaving the yard. This effort combined with the actual party and the rest of my hectic life I was pooped when I reached Tucker Creek. I parked and promptly fell asleep for an hour. Feeling much better when I awoke I suited up. I had some debate about what to wear. It did seem rather late in the year to wear snow pants and my shell but it was rather cool and judging by the clouds and weather racing by the summit of Goat Peak I thought it was a wise choice. Once reaching the shelter of the Tucker Creek valley there was fresh snow on the ground. The first creek crossing I chose to cross on the bridge which was partially covered in very slippery snow. There are many of the cross members missing which made for a very unnerving crossing. Thankfully I made it to the other side without dropping the 10 feet into the creek. The next 2 crossings where just a jump and one foot in and on to the other side.

Once crossing the third creek the pitch increases along with the depth of the snow. In short order I reached the junction on the mainline road coming from the West. The snow was much more consistent on this road and I forgo snowshoes. Soon the heavy wet snow became a burden to make my way through via boot only. I relented and put the snowshoes on. I followed the road until the road splits instead of heading South to access Goat Mt. I instead headed West for a short ways until I was below 4235' which I hadn't climbed. I left the road for a pleasant low angle jaunt through the well spaced trees. Soon I reached the West Ridge and was able to have some views of Easton below me. I followed the ridge finding denser trees along with sparser snow coverage. I debated on taking the snowhoes off but decided to keep them on. Soon I was the Western high point. It looked like there was a higher Eastern Point so I descended a short ways and climbed to the point which was indeed higher. Once reaching the summit I could see a massive squall heading my way so I decided to descend quickly. Thankfully I was only on the edge of the squall so I missed most of what I would guess was some intense weather.

The descent went quickly and I was surprised on how much snow had melted out in the short time since I had passed. Not paying close enough attention I passed my Tucker Creek turn off which added and additional mile of walking to back track. Not wanting to tempt fate and since my boots were quite wet I walked accross each of the creek crossings. It was nice to get out and stretch the legs a bit albeit a quite lowly objective.

Approx 9 miles 2500' of climb 4:15 car to car


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Monahan East 3525' 4.16.13

I didn't have a full day this week so I needed something low key. With the recent avalanche tragedies I left my house with a heavy heart. I wasn't overly concerned about the conditions being unsafe but I surmised the going would be slow and arduous whatever I was going to chose to do. I decided to head towards Easton hoping for somewhat better weather and snow conditions. I have done a few recent trips in the Tucker Creek drainage so I thought some more exploring would be a good fit. I found the gate open allowing access to the Tucker Creek area by car. I drove past the turn towards the creek and instead crossed under the power lines climbing steeply. After a short ways the road became covered in snow and not wanting to risk getting caught on the wrong side of the gate I turned around and parked on the correct side of the gate. Since the weather had been pretty foul coming over the pass I decided to put on snow pants and my lighter boots since I thought it likely that I would be on a packed road most of the day.

The weather was actually pleasant with filtered sun as I made my way up the packed road. I didn't really look at my map so I was surprised that the road didn't connect with the Tucker Creek road as I has surmised. The road instead climbed towards Monahan Mountain. I had climbed Monahan before coming from the West. I thought it would be interesting to give it a go from the East, especially since I didn't have time for much of anything else. After a couple of miles I left the mainline of the road to an unbroken road climbing towards my intended goal. The snow was deep and very heavy so I switched to snowshoes. Eventually I left the road entirely to reach the ridgeline. The going was straightforward and quite benign. I rejoined another road for a short ways before leaving it to climb towards 3525'. Once reaching this point I could see Monahan proper across the way but since I had already been there I settled for the Eastern sub summit as my finish line. The views towards Lake Easton and Easton itself were worthy of the effort to get to the summit.

I return mostly via the route of my ascent. Right on cue when I had to drop pack to stow my snowshoes it began to snow and blow so I layered up. The squall was short lived and by the time I got back to the car it was sunny again.

Approx 6 miles 1600ft of climb 3 hours car to car

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Scout Lake ( Hansen Creek Drainage) 4.9.13

I have been doing some exploring of the Hansen Creek drainage of late and I was hoping to do Abiel Peak via this drainage. I was able again to only drive as far as the tressel on the Hansen Creek Road. I was surprised that there was another rig already parked. I decided to switch back to my winter boots since I was going to do the bulk of the day off the packed road. The weather was cloudy but thankfully dry and the temps were pleasant. I stayed in shorts and a light coat for the balance of the day. I had some appointments in the morning so I didn't park until a little after noon.

I booted the rapidly thawing road until just BEFORE the road crosses Hansen Creek. There is a spur road heading South that I had spied in my previous recent visits. Here the snow was untracked deep and wet so I switched to snowshoes. The road is moslty open but typical for this time of year there are numerous small creek crossing that are unnerving to cross over snow bridges. At the end of the road I angled higher to the more open slopes that I was able to see from the other side of the valley on my previous trips. I was able to find mostly open travel with the only defense being the heavy wet snow and a few more tedious creek crossings. Finally I reached the end of the open area and entered the mature forest. Some of the trees were very large adding a great deal of character to the route. In the drip line of the trees I found better snow conditions but I now I had to deal with the dripping trees. Seeing that I wasn't going to be able to make all the way to Abiel I was trying to find some motivation to continue. I hadn't been to Scout Lake before so I thought that would be a nice place to visit. I continued climbing until I thought I was about the same elevation as the lake and I began traversing looking for the lake. After finding an end to open areas that had appeared to be a likely spot for a lake I was stymied. I retraced my steps and climbed a bit higher before I was able to intersect the lake. I was thankful that I had continued because the lake was beautiful and I was able to see that my intended route to Abiel was a go. After a hasty lunch I retraced my steps to the car

Approx 6.5 miles 4 hours car to car 1900 ft of climb


Monday, April 1, 2013

Mount Gardner Via Hansen Creek 4.1. 13

With the weather holding out and being pleasant I thought it best to get out again. I had most of the day so I felt like something with some miles would be best for this day. I decided to use my route from last week's summit of Little Saint Helens to access Mount Gardner 2 miles further West. Last week I wasn't able to drive to the Hansen Creek Road before being blocked by rutted snow. I thought I would be able to get at least to Hansen Creek Road this week with the recent warmer weather. I was overjoyed when I was not only able to reach Hansen Creek but drive an addition mile or so. I was blocked by snow just uderneath the tressel high above the road. I turned around and parked trying to keep myself off the road as much as possible. It was quite warm so I only wore a tee shirt and shorts. I chose my lighter summer boots with the hope that it would make it easier to keep a faster pace than last week.

The road was rutted to around 3000' ft where the last truck had turned around. I switched to snowshoes in the soft snow. I found that my summer boots are not the best choice with my snowshoes and I spent some time trying to get my snowshoes affixed without causing some discomfort with the lighter boots. Finally I found the right set up and I made much faster time than last week. Once reaching the point where I had left the road to summit LSH I instead continued along the road loosing some elevation along the way. Once I rounded the corner I was able to see Mount Gardner and was able to spy a few different routes. I chose to stay on the road until I was able to reach the long angled SE ridge. After a short area off closely spaced trees I was able to find a nice open line crossing logging roads every so often. It did get a little steeper close to the summit but that still was quite pleasant.


The summit did provide some nice views and I quickly snapped some pictures and then retreated to lower slopes where there was much less wind. The decent was quite fun as I was able to do a controlled slide with each step making me feel like I was skating down the hill. In short order I was able to regain the road for the long grind back to the car. While this route certainly isn't the shortest it isn't nearly as involved as some of the reports I have read or using the Northern route. On the way down the clouds rolled in making a bit nippy . I added my coat to ward off the chill.

Approx 11 miles 3100 ft of climb 5:15 car to car

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