Friday, January 30, 2015

Ruby Mountain loop, North Cascades

This is a route I probably wouldn't do in summer, but wanting to actually do a little running I was looking for something mostly at low elevation to avoid snow. The choice came down to this or the East Bank of Ross, which is out and back and I've been on that trail three times, so the Ruby Mountain loop won!

Starting from Colonial Creek campground, relevant trail conditions are:

  • Thunder Creek: all fine, some tiny patches of booted in snow/ice.
  • Fourth of July Pass and Panther Creek: snow free up to FoJ Camp, then solid snow (2-3') all the way until the bridge over Panther Creek, with patches continuing until the climb. Light-to-moderate route finding is required.
  • Happy Panther: quite a bit of large branch and tree blowdown (some old, but a lot new). Also three trail semi-washouts that are easy to pass, but the rocks are icy and frozen together.
Definitely slow going over Fourth of July Pass for four miles, but otherwise a very fun loop with a quick finish down an empty Highway 20. They were all new trails to me too, which always is an added bonus.

Special shout-out to Jessie from Seattle Mountain Running Group; who knew there would be another trail runner out there (especially one that's seen my blog)?! Hope you had a good run up Thunder Creek!

Thunder Creek (always amused by how monstrous North Cascade creeks are) 
East ridge to Snowfield Peak
Tricouni (l) and Primus peaks
Snowfield Peak
Fourth of July Camp
Fourth of July Pass area
Fourth of July Pass: swamp trail with snow?
The wood equivalent of cairns; route finding through Fourth of July Pass
Upper Panther Creek SNOTEL
Heavy frost in open areas
Panther Creek and Crater Mountain
Falls near Panther Camp
The closed section of 20 between Panther Creek and Happy Panther/East Bank TH
Near washout on Happy Panther (one of three)
Jack Mountain over Ross Reservoir; similar to the webcam I look at daily (sometimes hourly)
Colonial Peak (l), Paul Bunyan's stump, Pyramid Peak
Quick view of the Pickets: McMillan Spires (r), Inspiration Peak, The Pyramid, Mt. Degenhardt, Point 7200'+, Davis Peak


  1. Nice to meet you too! What an amazing day out there, huh?

    1. Tough to find a better place to spend a day than the North Cascades :)