Sunday, May 22, 2016

McLeod Mountain 8099', Pasayten

Eric and I parked at the junction of Goat Creek Road (5200) and Long Creek Road (5200-500) at 3800'. Long Creek Rd is washed out and has blowdowns across it maybe 1/2-mile up from the junction.

Our plan was to traverse the ridge from McLeod Mountain on the east to Setting Sun at the western end. After a few road miles we took an open grassy slope to McLeod's south ridge. Consistent snow started around 6500' and by 7000' the light rain turned to snow. There was about 4" of fresh snow above 7000'.

After McLeod we backtracked down to ~7300' and turned west to hit all the bumps and smaller peaks on the ridge. After Midday (7670'), Afternoon (7459') and Peachy (7181') we were a little behind schedule from the snow and navigation in the whiteout and bailed on Setting Sun as Eric had a long drive back to the west side. One to go back for as a short half-day trip!

Approaching McLeod's south ridge from Long Creek Rd
Flat spot on McLeod's south ridge at ~7100'
"Hhhmmmm, looks like the summit"
"Yup, this is it" - McLeod Mountain 8099'
Descending McLeod
Eric and I on Midday 7670'
Coyote tracks on the way to Peachy
Looking back at Afternoon on the way to Peachy; "sucker views"
Coyote tracks on lower Peachy
Nearing the top of Peachy
Weasel-family tracks on Peachy; maybe Ermine?
Descending Peachy's south ridge back to Long Creek Rd

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Suiattle River and Miners Ridge, Glacier Peak Wilderness

Even with a more normal snow pack this year the warm spring seems to be providing a very rapid melt. In May 2015 after the winter that wasn't, Kevin and I came up to Miners Ridge and the snow started around 5200'. This year, only five days later the in the month, the snow level was basically the same, although there definitely is more snow on the ridge top.

Sir Hikes A Lot (a tree lover) took little convincing to add on a few miles and pop over to the south side of the Suiattle on the PCT to visit the great old growth cedar and firs that Ben and I had seen around sunset on our Glacier Peak loop.

Relevant trail conditions:
  • Suiattle River: ~30 blowdowns between the TH and Miners Ridge junction; none are an issue. 
  • PCT south of Suiattle River: handful of blowdowns, stream before the good tree grove is a ford or wet log.
  • Miners Ridge: ~20 blowdowns, again no issue with any of them, snow begins at 5200', post holing down low but was consolidated with only a top slop layer on the ridge.

Don't stand in the middle too long...

Suiattle cedars; Sir Hikes photo
Gorgeous Doug Firs
Very fresh cat scat
Raging Suiattle River from the PCT bridge
Suiattle and Dusty drainages, from Miners Ridge

On the trail up to Miners Ridge, with Glacier Peak; Sir Hikes photo
Looking north to that high route across the way
Miners Ridge Lookout, ~6200'

Miners Ridge; Sir Hikes photo
Sir Hikes photo
Sir Hikes on Miners Ridge with one of the best views in the Glacier Peak Wilderness beyond
Buck Creek Pass; Helmet Butte (l) and Buck Mountain behind the pass
Sir Hikes at one of his favorite places
Sir Hikes photo

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Big Jim 7763', Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Big Jim Mountain scrolled across my computer screen on CalTopo a couple of months ago when I was looking for longer winter/spring day trips. While it doesn't seem to get too many early season ascents (except maybe on skis?), the route looked like it didn't have any terrain that would be too limiting if conditions were good.

This route does go through the 2014 Chiwaukum fire, however the trail is in surprisingly good shape, considering. Solid snow started around 5300'. More route details in photo captions below.

Hatchery Creek TH parking lot looking lush
Through the lower burn zone where flowers and brush are thriving
Higher in the burn zone with less regrowth
First view of Big Jim (center right) from the ridge at 5300', looking over the Battle Canyon Creek drainage
Snowshoes on; checking out the Entiat-Dakobed ranges to the north
At the ridge above Cabin Creek basin before dropping down, with the Enchantments beyond; Richard's photo
Cornice activity on Big Slide mountain
Coming up Cabin Creek basin to Lake Augusta
Richard scoping the climb up to the summit plateau
Ben and I starting up the final slope to the summit plateau before Richard took over and kicked monster steps in his ski boots; Richard's photo
Ben and I coming up the last section; Richard's photo
Reaching the summit plateau; Ben's photo
Northwest (L) to northeast from Big Jim's summit
Southeast (L) to southwest, from Big Jim's summit
Zoom of the northern Entiat (r), Bonanza and Chiwawa/Phelps/Napeequa area peaks
Summit ladybugs
Richard, Ben, me and Dave; Big Jim Mountain 7763'
Richard traversing in to drop
He brought his skis for these eight turns...
Back down at Lake Augusta on our way out
Showing our ascent line that split the melting sections and then traversed right to gain the ridge; on descent we came down the dirt/talus and met the snow at the finger in the center of the frame; Richard's turns visible center-left
Climbing back out of the Cabin Creek drainage
One last look at the northern Entiats and Bonanza on the way out...