Hannegan Pass, 08/10/2012-08/12/2012

Did I not do any hiking or backpacking in nearly an entire year? According to my “Ahem” post, that’s the case. Damn! I’ll imagine that there’s something that happened in between that was spectacular and I did not document in any way.

Speaking of spectacular, this hike to Hannegan Pass (and the peak, really) was very nice. Revisiting my history, it’s once every couple years that my friend Casey and I manage to make it out for the Perseid Meteor Shower. Last time was Rainbow Ridge. This time, Casey invited a friend from LA up and we all went out together. He didn’t stab me.

In keeping with my after-the-fact recaps, here’s my remembrances, random notes and a photo dump, in an entirely unhelpful manner:

— North Fork Brewing: good pizza, good beer.
— Hike up to the pass is good for view of Ruth.
— My bag was heavy.
— It was hot in the sun in camp.
— Scott was pretty cool.
— Meteors are pretty cool.
— I didn’t have a lens that focused to infinity.
— If you’re going up, go to the peak, it’s way worth it; views to Shuksan are incredible.
— Pretty sure I can see Canada from here.
— Plus, 3G.
— I liked this so much, I’d do it again. Or continue on towards Whatcom.
— Stickhenge.
— Shuksan, again.
— No, I’m not hiking all the way down again on the second day to get pizza and beer. It’s FAR! You don’t understand how far it is and how lazy I am right now.

Ruth from near Hannegan Camp.

Ruth from near Hannegan Camp.

Stars out of focus. So far.

Stars out of focus. So far.

Up to Hannegan Peak.

Up to Hannegan Peak.

Climbing up Hannegan.

Climbing up Hannegan.

Admirers.

Mountains. Whatevs.

Mountains. Whatevs.

P-p-p-p-pano. (Gotta click this one, because 400px doesn't do it justice.)

P-p-p-p-pano.
(Gotta click this one, because 400px doesn’t do it justice.)

Yeah, how could I not want to do this one again? Maybe this weekend?! Got a babysitter? Oh, there’s a few more photos on Flickr.

Just go to WTA for the details, will ya? I can’t remember ’em.

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Lower Ice Lake, 08/27/09-08/29/09

Somehow, I found myself with an extended weekend at the very end of August; Nicole didn’t.  Thus, the table was set for my Second Annual Solo Backpacking Trip, a trip set to coincide with my twenty-ninth birthday.  Certain conditions were to be met.  The hike couldn’t be too high on our must-do list, because Nicole wouldn’t be along to enjoy it.  I also wanted something that would challenge me.  And why not make something that’s a little further away than our normal weekend overnighter?

In the end, I decided on Ice Lakes, via the Entiat River.  100 Hikes… put the round-trip mileage at ~28 and recommended allowing 3-5 days.  Ice Lakes were on my list, and the criterion fit.  I’d be carrying a heavy backpack (~45lbs) but reasoned that the elevation gain would be spread over so much mileage that it’d be no problem.  More training for the Canadian Rockies!  My itinerary was flexible: I’d leave Thursday, make the lakes Friday, spend Saturday exploring or summiting Mt. Maude, and return Sunday. Or, if the forecasted thunderstorms came to fruition, I might return Saturday instead.  Whatevs.

I left straight from work on Thursday around 12:30, and pulled into the trailhead parking lot at the end of Entiat River Road at 16:00.  The drive was nice, taking me past Leavenworth for the first time through Wenatchee and north along the Columbia River through an interesting landscape.  Though there were signs warning of big horn sheep crossings, I saw none.

I booted up and hit the trail at 16:20, setting a comfortably quick pace in order to put as many easy miles behind me as possible on the first day.  The trail starts off wide and dry, mixed-use as it is (hikers, horses, motorcycles).  The trees turn from somewhat unhealthy-looking to fully fire-scarred and destroyed as one makes progress down the Entiat River trail.

Evidence of a burn.

Evidence of a burn.

At 17:55, I entered Glacier Peak Wilderness, ~4.2 miles from the trailhead.  The trail narrowed.  Deer met me head-on on the trail.  The sun lowered behind the ridge to the west.  Every snap, crackle, and pop in the forest had me looking over my shoulder; I attributed each one to another deer, fearing a bear or cougar as the sounds stalked me along the trail.  I realized only later that the heat of the day had gone from the naked, burned trees.  And now they contracted in the shade like an old house in night’s silence.

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Thunder Creek, 05/23/09-05/25/09

This Memorial Day Weekend marked our one-year backpacking anniversary. Last year, we spent two nights on the Olympic coast. This year, while we were tempted to try something similar, a quick filter of our newly created and creatively named “Hikes We Want To Do” spreadsheet sent the Thunder Creek trail in North Cascades National Park to the top of our list. Early season accessibility and the meager elevation gain and distance conducive to a first-of-the-season backpack will tend to do that. I penciled it in my calendar several weeks ago, and there it stayed.

Tricouni Peak as viewed from Junction Camp.

Tricouni Peak as viewed from Junction Camp.

We left the house at 05:20, after oversleeping fifteen minutes and scrambling some eggs. Since we’d be spending the night–two, actually–within the National Park, we had to stop at the ranger station in Marblemount to pick up our permits. At 07:15 we pulled up to the ranger station and got in line behind the several parties that had arrived before us. (The ranger station opened at 07:00.) Their destinations were varied, but there was a common answer to one of the ranger’s questions: Subaru. The repetition became quite comical by the end of the line. We were the end of the line.

I’d read somewhere on NWHikers that Tricouni Camp was nice, and when the ranger said there were only two sites at that camp, I was sold. It also helped that the camp is ~7.7 miles in (according to Green Trails Map #48) and just before the most significant elevation gain of the entire trail. The ranger warned us of pesky deer, issued our permit, and we were back on the road.

At 08:10, we pulled into the trailhead at the south end of Colonial Creek Campground and hit the trail fifteen minutes later. Last year, we spent the night at the campground and went for an ill-fated day hike up to Fourth of July Pass. The first ~1.5 miles of that hike and this backpack are both along the Thunder Creek trail, so we had an idea what to expect, and I won’t elaborate on what I’ve basically written before.

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North Fork Sauk River & PCT to Red Pass, 09/28/08-09/30/08

The final weekend in September beckoned.  The weather looked to be fantastic.  Unfortunately, Nicole and one of her toenails were at odds with one another, so if anything were to be done, it would have to be done solo.  Somehow I decided that a mere dayhike wouldn’t suffice; this meant I’d be going on my very first all-alone backpack: two nights in Glacier Peak Wilderness.  I actually didn’t give it much thought at the time (that is, before I set up camp the first night in near-darkness and questioned every sound I thought I heard).  It just seemed like the natural progression of things, something that I knew I’d do eventually.

As I may have mentioned in the past, Glacier Peak Wilderness (hereafter, GPW) has held near-mythical status in my novice hiker mind.  Maybe it’s because Spring & Manning called it the last wild volcano.  I suppose that has something to do with it: unlike Mt. Baker or Mt. Rainier, you ain’t parking your Subaru on the side of Glacier Peak.  You gotta hike to get anywhere near it, man.  So when, a week or two prior, I saw a post on NWHikers about Sloan Creek Road re-opening, it stuck with me.  Sloan Creek Road (aka Road #49) had been closed for some time (forever, as far as it concerns me, since I wasn’t going anywhere near it before this summer) and it’s one of the nearest access points to GPW.  So it seemed predetermined that this trip would utilize the opportunity.

Old-growth along the Sauk River.

Old-growth along the Sauk River.

I decided I’d hike the North Fork Sauk River Trail (#649) on Sunday and spend the evening at or near Mackinaw Shelter, then get up Monday morning and hike until I reached the Pacific Crest Trail (#2000) and take that to Red Pass.  If I could, I’d investigate White Chuck Glacier or climb Portal Peak, spending the second night in the area.  Tuesday morning I’d hike all the way back out and get home sometime in the afternoon.  Since I was leaving the where-and-when with Nicole, I figured it best to stick as close to the plan as possible, and act conservatively.

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Mt Aix, 06/29/08-06/30/08

After a good week or so of searching guidebooks and websites for a high-altitude trail that maybe–just maybe–wasn’t completely covered in snow, I finally came across a few different references1 of the Mt Aix trail. Most were at least a year old, and therefore the conditions they described weren’t really applicable to this Spring’s stubborn snows and late melt; but there was a trip report from the end of May at NWHikers.net that was quite detailed. I decided that a month’s worth of southwestern exposure–including the three or four 80-90° days leading up to the day(s) of our hike–would’ve had a significant impact on the snow level, and that if we were lucky, we’d be able to make it prett’ near to the top. With the weather clear and hot, we’d also be able to fully appreciate the views that everyone assured would be there if it weren’t for those darn clouds. So: good weather, good views, and a hike with a difficulty rating I’d have to hide from Nicole. I stopped at REI and bought myself the Bumping Lake #271 Green Trails Map.

Since this weekend was our first wedding anniversary, we decided to elongate the trip by car-camping somewhere near Bumping Lake on Saturday night.

I have to take time out here to mention that this was our first time driving along WA-410, and it definitely will not be the last. It’s a great drive with amazing views. At one point, just after entering Mount Rainier National Park, I believe, there’s a great reveal of The Mountain, which led Nicole to exclaim: “Mother of God!” I don’t think she was very far off.

Mt Rainier from WA-410

Mt Rainier from WA-410.

Once off of Highway 410, there seemed to be dozens of side-of-the-road sites along Bumping River, but since it was a beautiful Saturday, almost all were occupied, and we didn’t even bother turning into the Forest Service pay-sites. Just before Bumping Lake there’s a no-fee Forest Service campground called Bumping River Crossing, and that’s where we pulled in for the evening. It had an outhouse and we brought two bottles of Cristalino that we weren’t going to carry up Mt Aix the next day, so it was more than adequate. The campground was populated, but still nearly half-empty, and we settled into a quiet site away from the river and collected twigs and branches for a small but necessary campfire–for the S’mores, of course.


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