Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rainy Pass to Harts Pass on the PCT, North Cascades

Paul and I had been planning for quite some time to run loop one at Plain this weekend, but the fires had other plans...bummer. Probably means we'll only get to run one loop, instead of both, before September.

Plan B: North Cascades 100km out-and-back on the PCT from between Rainy and Harts passes. We had cloudy, cool and rainy weather all day, so we didn't get the amazing views you can on this section of the PCT, but the North Cascades still never disappoint.

We had solid rain for most of the second half so I ended up putting my camera away, but there were a few mountain glimpses in the early evening as we came back over Cutthroat Pass.

Heading up toward Cutthroat Pass, center left
Corteo Peak, to the south
Cutthroat Pass
Hinkhouse Peak, Cutthroat Lake, ridge to Cutthroat
One steep traverse between Cutthroat and Granite passes
Top of the switchbacks above Granite Pass, looking east, which appeared to have better weather all day
Above Granite Pass; Swamp Creek drainage with Tower and Golden Horn in the clouds
W. Fork Methow valley
Looking down Brush Creek
Marmot in Brush Creek
Switchbacks above Glacier Pass, leading to Grasshopper Pass
Grasshopper Pass, center, below Tatie Peak
Contouring below Tatie Peak
Harts Pass
Flowers near Harts Pass
Water source below Tatie Peak
Mid July in the North Cascades

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Nason Ridge, Central Cascades

Another weekend, another day out on new trails in the mountains.

Kevin and I headed up to Nason Ridge, on the east side of Steven's Pass. We had some ideas to tag a summit and then run a chunk of the ridge, but after my poor navigation, we just ended up doing a little steep hiking/scrambling, and then running out and back to the lookout on the eastern portion of Nason. The trails are in decent shape, but beyond Merritt Lake it's obvious they aren't too-oft traveled.

A very hot day, it was tough to keep up on hydration... Also some of the worst mosquitoes we've ever experienced. I guess that bottle of Off in the trailhead registration box was no joke.

Hiking up the Merritt Lake trail
Nason Ridge trail toward Crescent Lake
Crescent Lake
Heading the wrong way up toward Mt. Howard
Above Crescent Lake
Yeah...NOW we see where we were supposed to go; doh!
Keeping our sense of humor as we head back down
Meadows below Crescent Lake
Nason Ridge trail
Merritt Lake
Nason Ridge trail toward the lookout
Came from the left, headed up
Glacier Peak from the lookout
Daniel and Hinman
Dreaming of cold drinks...

Monday, July 7, 2014

PCT/Bridge Creek to McGregor Mountain - North Cascades National Park

Long solo day in the North Cascades exploring some trails I hadn't yet been on.

There are a few brushy areas along the PCT, but otherwise it's received a lot of early-season maintenance. McGregor Mountain trail also is in great shape, with very little brush and fewer than five blowdowns, which all are easy step-overs. You can scramble for water lower down, but the trail does hit the creek gully at 5525'. There is a snowed-in crossing of the gully at 5800'.

Stehekin River valley and lower Bridge Creek already are very hot in the early afternoon (at least upper 80s).

Brush along the PCT; trail is straight ahead
Tiger Lily
Indian Paintbrush and Lupine
Great suspension bridge over Maple Creek (eight miles south of Highway 20)
From 3700' on McGregor; Tolo, Seven Sisters, Junction, Heather and Sisi ridges (zoom of Agnes below)
Looking up toward the summit of McGregor, center-left; I could actually see the radio repeater from here
The avalanche gully at 5800'
Pano looking SW from 5800' on McGregor

Agnes (left), in front of Gunsight and the large Chikamin Glacier of Sinister and Dome, both in the clouds
Park Creek Ridge (l) and the glaciers of Buckner, in the clouds
Bowan Mountain and Pass, on my return in the afternoon

Friday, July 4, 2014

Vesper Peak

Headed up with my brother Greg and stepdad Steve to do Vesper Peak on my age-bracket-graduation day.

Trail is in good shape up to the lower basin where the trail stays to the right of the lowest snow. Fresh rock-mud slides make it more stable to just take the snow field up the basin and then traverse over to the couloir leading up to Headlee Pass. The couloir is steep and still has significant snow; ice axe definitely required. Beyond Headlee the trail contours (mostly snow free) then is all snow up to the lake and beyond to the summit, but never as steep as below Headlee Pass. Fun glissading down from the summit to lake in just a few minutes.

First climb for me in some time...

Greg making the log bridges look like hot coals
Turning the corner to head up toward the basin
About halfway up the basin; Dickerman and Twin Peaks in the back
Steve leading up to the couloir and Headlee Pass; steeper than it looks
Greg calls it a day in the upper basin and waits for us
Vesper from Headlee Pass
Sperry Peak (r), Vesper Lake, Vesper Peak directly above Steve
Summit pano, north (l) to south (r) looking east

Any guesses? ~4" long; higher contrast just for better viewing. Wolverine?