Archive for June, 2011

Defying Winter

Posted on June 30th, 2011 by Jo  |  Comments Off

Defying the weather
Zeusdaddy photo used with permission, please respect all copyrights

Special Thanks to Guest Trip Reporter Ewb:

“Well, at least it didn’t rain much.”  That’s the affirmative drain around
which our Thursday nights now circle.  And it came home in spades last
Thursday on Defiance.

A hearty crew of eight headed up the Ira Spring trail into what are by now
familiar Thursday night conditions: cold, cloudy, wet, and windy.  Sometimes
all at once.  Seven turned toward Mason Lake on the old trail, while one
early ascender continued on toward Bandera.  The seven split at the
junction, with two opting for the high road and the rest for the low road
along the creek.  Despite varied start times and routes, all seven magically
reunited in the woods north of Mason Lake.

The way was snow covered from below Mason Lake to the top.  The rocks along
the ridge were a minefield of man-sized snow holes waiting to swallow and
bloody unsuspecting hikers (it took multiple sacrifices to finally satisfy
them).  The snow was slushy and difficult to make solid steps in at times,
icy hard at other times, hard to kick more than a toe hold in some times,
and dangerously slippery on the high exposed slopes all the time.

Snacks, pics, and frozen extremities up top, then a very careful escape back
down the slippery slopes to more humane conditions in the woods.  Well,
except for Larry, who defied gravity by boot skiing large portions of the
ridge all the way back to I-90.  Or thereabouts.  The remaining mortals were
left to tiptoe through the fragile cruft back to the lake.  Once there the
group was surprised to see a hint of sunset, which had snuck out from under
the very low clouds back up the long southwest facing valley.  It was a
surreal colorful sight on an otherwise dismal visual tour.

From the lake it was a long, dark, rooty, and occasionally crashing, mess
back to the cars.  Owing to the very late finish, only a few opted for the
Pour House.

So, the conditions weren’t good, with nasty weather and a potpourri of snowy
twaddle.  And the beatings were meted out by Defiance with extreme prejudice
to legs, backs, butts, and one bloody finger.  But still, there was that
certain joy that springs from the sharing of trail (and error) with familiar
travelers.  The camaraderie found in communal misery.  The personal
satisfaction of tackling (and surviving!) a very difficult hike in pretty
good time.  Plus, for those who could, there was blessed drink and greasy
comfort at the Pour House.

And, at least it didn’t rain.  Much.

Trail details, NOAA weather, driving directions, maps and past trip reports can be found here: Mt Defiance Info

Somewhere It’s Summer Solstice

Posted on June 23rd, 2011 by Jo  |  3 Comments »

DSC_9628
Zeusdaddy photo used with permission, please respect all copyrights

Special Thanks to Guest Trip Reporter WXMan:

Ah, Granite Mountain.  A favorite of many a TNABer.  It affords the group a choice of gentle, steady, trail-climb, or a more aggressive semi-direct assault on the summit.  The low vegetated and open upper slopes afford the climber sweeping panoramic vistas… usually.  This Thursday’s views were a bit more… limited.  Two groups set off up the mountain in staggered fashion in order to adhere to ALW guidelines, and these groups were even further split at the snow-gully where some elected to tackle the obstacle directly, while others opted for the trail and longer ridge-line approach.   All in all the weather largely cooperated for the ascent with cloudy skies and rather ‘muggy’ climbing conditions, which drove some to bemoan the extra layers that were worn in anticipation of ‘wintry’ conditions expected up top.  Upon reaching solid snow just before attaining the ridge, the mild & muggy conditions from down below quickly transformed to chilly & breezy up top, prompting the addition of layers for the last 0.5mi or so to the summit.  Snow conditions were fairly soft, but snow was consolidated enough to allow for pretty consistent under-footing with reasonably well established steps in the steeper spots.  I was part of the late departure group and was pleasantly surprised meet up with the earlier climbing party at the summit, huddled beneath the lookout tower trying to keep warm.

A proper Summer Solstice Summit Happy Hour quickly ensued with a full complement of  champagne, wine, beer, liquor, and passed hors d’oeuvres & desserts.  Appropriately, as the revelry surrounding ‘Summer’s’ arrival began to wane (it was foggy, windy and about 40 degrees after all), the wind kicked up and the snow rolled in, shooing us off the summit.  A descent chock full of slushy glissades, and rainy trail hiking got most everyone back to the cars by 10pm… good solid TNAB timing.  The rain was little more than a minor nuisance, and wasn’t really a problem… Snow was a good reminder that even though the calendar reads ‘summer’… in the NW, we don’t really get treated to summer-weather until the middle of July.

Solstice celebrations continued on at the Pour House in NB, with drinks and grub, and a chance to dry off.   So here’s to hoping that we can all make it through the next 2 weeks until the real NW summer arrives… sometime after the 4th of July!  :-\

Cheers,
WxMan

Trail details, NOAA weather, driving directions, maps and past trip reports can be found here: Granite Mt Info

The Men of I-90

Posted on June 16th, 2011 by Jo  |  7 Comments »

Summit Shot
Zeusdaddy photo used with permission, please respect all copyrights

Special Thanks to Guest Screenplay Writer ZeusDaddy:

OPENING SCENE – TRUCK TOWN, COUNTRY PRIDE RESTAURANT PARKING LOT
Scott is waiting for John to arrive. John pulls up next to him. Hand gestures work out who is going to drive. Scott throws his stuff in John’s trunk and hops in the passenger seat.
JOHN: “Sup.”
SCOTT: “Sup.”
They head up I-90 towards the pass.

ARRIVAL SCENE – ALPENTAL PARKING LOT
Scott and John arrive to find Andy, Josh, and Joseph getting ready.
JOSH: “Hey.”
JOHN: “Hey.”
ANDY: “Hey.”
SCOTT: “Hey.”
JOSEPH: “Hey.”
Larry and Dan arrive. Fist-bumps all around. The crew continues to get ready. Larry and Dan head out. A few minutes later, Josh and Joseph head out. John, Andy, and Scott wait around a few minutes to see if anyone else shows up, before they decide to head out. As they get about 100 yards up the trail, they see Steve’s van pull into the parking lot.

MEETUP SCENE – BEFORE THE TRAIL SPLIT TO GUYE
John is leading Scott and Andy as they catch up to Dan and Larry. John notices that Larry is breaking trail.
JOHN: “Wait, you’re breaking trail?”
LARRY: “Well, yeah…”
JOHN: “Joseph and Josh didn’t pass you?”
DAN: “No, were they supposed to?”
ANDY: “They started in front of us… where could they have gone?”
SCOTT: “Two missing in the first 10 minutes… that’s a good start.”
Shoulder shrugs all around and the five of them begin to take turns kicking steps.

<INSERT CUT SCENE OF JOSEPH AND JOSH BUSHWHACKING THE WRONG WAY>

ROUTE FINDING SCENE – JUST BELOW THE WATERFALL
John is leading up the steep snow-covered boulder field just below where the trail normally crosses the waterfall. With all of the snow, the group gets disoriented and wonders where the crossing is.
LARRY: “Isn’t the crossing down there?”
JOHN: “Uh, I think it is up higher.”
DAN: “Looks like a snowbridge down there.”
JOHN: “I’ll go check it out up higher.”
SCOTT: “I’m going to wait right here while you guys figure it out.”
Scott and Andy just stand there on the steep snow slope. Dan and Larry check out the snow bridge crossing and decide that the trail crossing must be higher. About that same time John makes his way up and spots the trail crossing.

POSTHOLE SCENE – JUST BEFORE THE SNOQUALMIE-CAVE RIDGE BASIN
Scott is traversing his way along the edge of a rock moat above a steep slope above the upper falls when he plunges one leg down to his crotch. With the other leg stuck on the surface he has an awkward task of wiggling out without tumbling backwards down the slope.
LARRY: “Need some help?”
SCOTT: “Yeah, just make sure I don’t fall down there.”
John grabs Scott’s poles as Larry acts as a downhill anchor so Scott is able to work his way out.

BASIN SCENE 1 – BOTTOM OF THE SNOQUALMIE-CAVE RIDGE BASIN, JUST ABOVE THE UPPER FALLS
Coming out of the trees, the crew enters the Snoqualmie-Cave Ridge basin. They pause for a brief moment.
JOHN: “Any sign of Joseph and Josh?”
DAN: “Nope.”
They angle left and head straight up the best snow slope to gain the ridgeline to Snoqualmie. The snow was steep but provides good steps. Larry leads for a section, then Andy takes over step duty. They top out on the ridge to what would be an impressive view of the Alpental valley if the weather was better.

RIDGE SCENE – PARTWAY UP THE SNOQUALMIE MOUNTAIN RIDGE
Andy and Scott take turns re-kicking some old boot steps as they climb into the clouds. What was the nice runout down to the Snoqualmie-Cave Ridge basin on their right gets steeper and turns into a series of progressively bigger cornices. John, Larry, and Dan follow as the group starts to spread out with everyone climbing the steep ridgeline at their own pace. They all eye some potential nice glissades for the way down.

SUMMIT SCENE – TRAVERSING OVER TO THE TRUE SUMMIT
Andy and Scott work their way over to the true summit and find that the old boot path winds much to close to the North edge. What seems like a nice pile of snow is really a 8 to 10 foot high cornice. It is hard to tell how far out it goes. The snow is too deep. They get a few glimpses of the magnitude of the snow overhang and decide to move a little further away from the edge.
ANDY: “Wow, that cornice is huge!”
SCOTT: “Yeah, I’m staying away from that!”
They reach the true summit rock pile, only to find that the snow piled up to the North is about 4 feet higher than the rocks. Knowing the terrain, they knew this must be a giant cornice, but they don’t bother to find out how big. They stay near the rocks. They start pulling out warmer gear as John arrives. Not long after, they get a glimpse of Astro and Sara heading their way. Steve is next to arrive.
JOHN: “Any sign of Joseph and Josh?”
STEVE: “Yeah, I ran into them near the waterfall, they aren’t far behind.”
SCOTT: “Oh, good.”
STEVE: “Damon should be back there too, he started out with me.”
Digger, Larry, and Dan arrive and the group jokes around while adding warmer layers. Josh and Joseph arrive just before the 8pm turn around time to make the summit shot. High fives all around. Shortly after that, the crew starts back down the mountain.

<INSERT GLISSADE/BOOT SKI MONTAGE>

BASIN SCENE 2 – BOTTOM OF THE SNOQUALMIE-CAVE RIDGE BASIN, JUST ABOVE THE UPPER FALLS
The crew pulls snow out of pant legs and pockets after some good glissades.
SCOTT: “You think Damon turned around?”
STEVE: “Looks like I missed a call from him. He left a message and he wasn’t sure where to cross the waterfall.”
JOHN: “Yeah, we had the same issue.”

<INSERT FOOTAGE OF DESCENDING HIKERS, WITH A FEW SLIPS AND FALLS>

PARKING LOT SCENE – ALPENTAL PARKING LOT
The crew stumbles into the parking lot, one by one.
STEVE: “Looks like Damon made it out ok. His car is gone.”
SCOTT: “That’s great! No need for a search party.”
LARRY: “To the Pour House!”

<ROLLING CREDITS WITH FOOTAGE OF THE CREW AT THE POUR HOUSE>

Trail details, NOAA weather, driving directions, maps and past trip reports can be found here: Snoqualmie Mt Info

Party On Pratt

Posted on June 5th, 2011 by Jo  |  3 Comments »

Pratt
Yukon430sw photo used with permission, please respect all copyrights

Trail details, NOAA weather, driving directions, maps and past trip reports can be found here: Pratt Mt info

Marvelous birthday views
‘Marvelous Birthday Views’
Snutur photo used with permission, please respect all copyrights

Did You Say ‘Verglas’?

Posted on June 2nd, 2011 by Jo  |  2 Comments »

Celebrating on Cave Ridge
Yukon430sw photo used with permission, please respect all copyrights

Special Thanks to Guest Trip Reporter Moosefish:

Cave Ridge

June 2, 2011

Thank goodness summer has finally arrived! (Oh, wait. That’s tomorrow.)

It rained at the car.
It rained at the creek.
It rained at the saddle.
It snowed at the summit.

But, oh, what a lovely hike. Thanks to EWB who did the hard work of getting lost on Tuesday and showing us where not to go we were able to pretty efficiently get to the saddle between Guye Peak and Cave Ridge in under an hour and a half. Sure, we’d lost one hiker along the way, but you kind of expect that on a night like this.

The snow was sloppy from the “parking lot.” Six of us started out on the brutal climb to the trailhead where we marveled at the new bathrooms. The usually claustrophobic tunnel of brush was a wide-open thoroughfare courtesy of all the snow still sticking around. Everything was strange and unfamiliar.

The new bridge across Commonwealth Creek was a bit tricky to get on and off with snowshoes, but nobody fell, much to the chagrin of photographers ready to capture a soaking. We were cautious of thinning snow bridges and creek cornices as we made our way.

The winter route is much more direct than the summer trail and seemed somehow shorter. We snowshoed until we had to traverse below some cliffs. The hard snow made boots a far better choice for most. A few steep climbs and we were at the saddle where it continued to rain.

Left for Guye, Right for Cave Ridge. Just watch out for the caves. It wouldn’t do to fall into one. We opted for a very direct climb to the top following a set of old boot tracks/bear prints. Which were they? You decide, but since the resident TNAB joker claims they are bear might be cause to doubt.

The summit was windy and cold with big flakes falling. The views were limited, but the wine was good. You just need to look out for the bears. RAWR!

Back the way we came, we made great time with a few bumpy glissades. Snowshoes remained stowed and the bridge was easier to cross. Our missing hiker’s car was gone so either he’s still out there and somebody stole his car (talk about bad luck) or he made it back. We’ll find out next week.

Totals: 5.2 miles and 2,224 feet.

Trail details, NOAA weather, driving directions, maps and past trip reports can be found here: Cave Ridge Route via Commonwealth Info