Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Stuart Lake 10/25/2008

Beautiful day to be outside. The morning was rather chilly but warm layers and the first uphill warmed us up fast and the sun got warmer as the day progressed also.

It was neat to feel the difference between the sunny spots and shady areas. As soon as we sank under the forest canopy the chill started to bite us immediately.

It was an easy relaxed hike with only 1600 ft elevation gain, great views of surrounding mountains, and sweet surprise at Colchuck/Stuart intersection left for us by Andrew’s group heading to the Enchantments.

We tool our time to enjoy both the trail and the lake where we found a nice sunny spot by the shore and took about an hour to chill out and explore.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hidden Lake Peak Lookout 10/11/2008

The week was chilly and brought first solid snow cover to the
mountains. It was clear we'll get to enjoy some of it since we were
starting high and gaining 3000 ft.

The recently reopened road to the trailhead was in perfect condition.
Steep in places but as smooth as mountain road can be and my Focus had
no problem making its way up.

The morning was chilly and with the first part of the trail leading
through forest where sunshine could not reach, we started with gloves
and hats on. Soon we reached 4300 ft where we saw first signs of
snow. The snow patches on and around the trail became more frequent
as we gained elevation and the snow cover got solid in about 5000 ft.

There was a section with several icy patches where we had to be
careful not to slip but the further we went the more we felt like
being in a winter wonderland and soon we found ourselves on a fresh
white snow, surrounded by peaceful beauty of the mountains.

Further on the lookout became visible sitting on the top of the peak
but at that point we started to doubt that we'll be able to actually
get up to it. We were in about a foot of snow now.

We could not get so far in without trying though so once we got below
the peak, we went to check out the route up. It didn't look bad but
with snow covering spaces between the rocks, making it very easy to
step on unsupported spot and fall through, we decided it was not safe
enough to proceed.

Instead we found nice sunny spot with a view of the lake where we
enjoyed lunch, delicious brownies (thank you Beth), and some hot tea.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Yellow Aster Butte 9/28/2008

I left my house at about 6:45 a.m. and drove through a dense morning fog to the meeting location in Everett. The fog lifted somewhat before I got there, and disappeared completely during our drive to Mt. Baker area. When we arrived to the trailhead some 2.5 hours later, we were surrounded by beautiful mountains standing proudly against perfectly blue sky. It was my third time up here but the very first time when the trailhead area was clear of clouds and I could finally enjoy the nice view of Mt. Baker right from where we parked.

We were on the trail soon afterwards and steadily progressed up the meadow, switchback after switchback until the forest swallowed us and in its shadow we found a great refuge from the unexpectedly burning sun. We quickly gained several more hundred feet of elevation and then finally emerged to the open meadows where breeze carried sweet scent of berries and views were plentiful. From there the trail contoured the valley offering more and more views along its way. First we were stunned by unobstructed view of the rugged Mt. Shuksan, soon afterwards we could admire serene beauty of majestic Mt. Baker, and later enormous mass of Tomyhoi Peak arose right in from of us.

We started the climb to the false summit together with many others. It was a beautiful day and it was busy up there. As soon as we walked onto the top Mt. Larabee gave us a warm welcome together with American and Canadian Border Peaks, followed by many more mountains. The views went forever.

We enjoyed a brief lunch break atop of the false summit and then continued towards the true summit. Little bit of easy scrambling spiced up our already wonderful day. We decided not to go back to the false summit and instead dropped down the scree slope and headed for the tarns. The reflections in them were nearly perfect; however the water was not completely calm due to a minor breeze. We were happy to forgive Mother Nature this slight imperfection and enjoyed the tarns anyways.

Needless to say it was very hard to head back.