Red Mountain

Red Mountain – 5,890 ft

Eric Gilbertson

October 25, 2016

I shifted work around to get the afternoon off, and drove out of town at 2pm. I was hiking north on the PCT by 3pm. It was drizzling, but the forecast was for drying out later in the evening. After a few miles I cut left on the Commonwealth Valley trail, then started climbing steeply up. The trail eventually leveled out just before a small pond, and a cairn indicated this was the spot to turn off and start scrambling.

I followed a well-established user trail with more cairns up the steep southwest face of Red Mountain. It was fun 3rd class scrambling on wet and sometimes loose rock. The rain had luckily let up, though clouds were still rolling through the valley.

I topped out on the summit at 4:45pm, and then it started snowing lightly. There were a few inches of fresh snow on the ground with footprints in them, likely from the previous weekend. I had the summit to myself, though, which wasn’t too surprising for a trailless mountain on a drizzly tuesday evening.

The view was still great down into the alpine lakes wilderness. I spent 15 minutes on top, then scrambled back down to the trail, and hiked back to the car. I made it back to Seattle in time for dinner, hungry after a 9 mile hike.

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Snoqualmie Mountain

Snoqualmie Mountain – 6,278 ft

Eric Gilbertson

October 23, 2016

I left Seattle at 1:30pm on Sunday afternoon under sunny skies, and was out hiking by 2:45pm from the Alpental parking lot. The trail up snoqualmie mountain is unofficial, so it’s unmarked and unmaintained, but I found it pretty easily just 50ft south of the snow lakes trailhead.

The snoqualmie mountain trail basically goes straight up the mountain, gaining 3,000ft in about 1.5 miles. That’s even steeper than the trails in New England! I reached the summit in about an hour, and had to change into my micro spikes to walk through all the fresh snow up there.

I was ahead of schedule, so decided to try to hike up nearby Guye Peak as well. I bushwacked along the ridge and eventually met a user trail up Guye Peak. I soon reached the north summit, but couldn’t see any safe way to get to the taller south summit 100ft away. It looked like cliffs all along the ridge. I would later read that there is a 4th class way around to the summit, but I couldn’t find it then so turned around. I soon made it back to the car and drove back to Seattle.

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Mount Adams

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On the summit

Mount Adams – 12,276 ft
Second tallest mountain in Washington

Eric and Katie
October 22, 2016

We left Seattle mid day on Friday for the long drive south to Mount Adams, and after a small wrong turn eventually reached the trailhead around 8pm. The snow started a half mile before the trailhead, and was just deep enough to still drive through while scraping the undercarriage of the car.

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On the summit

We slept in the car that night, and got up at 4am to start the hike. There were a few other vehicles in the lot, but overall not too crowded. We hiked up the snowy trail by headlamp, and as we climbed a ridge and broke out above treeline the sun started coming out. We were the first ones up the mountain, and had to find the route on our own.

As the snow turned icy higher up we changed to crampons. We took a short break at the lunch counter at 9,400ft, before beginning the long, steep climb up to Pikers Peak. At Pikers Peak the summit looked really close, though still an 800 ft climb. We climbed past huge 4ft-long rime ice feathers on the ground, before reaching the summit at 12:15pm, well ahead of schedule.

The wooden shack on the summit was completely encased in rime ice and snow, so just looked like a white blob. We had great views of seven other volcanoes: Baker, Glacier, Rainier, St Helens, Hood, Jefferson, and Three Sisters in Oregon.

After a few minutes standing in the cold wind we headed back down. Unfortunately the snow was too icy to glissade, so the had to walk. Descending from Pikers Peak we met a few groups of skiers trudging up. They must have purposefully slept in to wait for the warmest time of day to ski down. I bet they were still skiing on rime ice and icy snow, though.

We reached the car at 4:45pm for a 12 hour round trip. It appeared there was enough time to drive all the way back to Seattle that night. Katie’s i-phone showed the fastest route as going on forest service roads through the national forest west of Mt Adams, so we decided to give that a try. Unfortunately 60 miles into the drive we encountered a big log across the road painted orange. I walked out to investigate, and the road was completely washed away on the other side of the log!

This was the only road through, so we turned around and ended up camping in the woods back near the trailhead. We made it back to Seattle the next morning via the conventional I5 route. Don’t trust Apple maps for navigating!

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Windy Peak

Windy Peak – 8,333ft

Eric and Katie
October 16, 2016

We found one of the few dry spots in western Washington on Sunday, up in the northeastern cascades at Windy Peak. This is the only one of the Washington 100 highest mountains with a trail up it, which made it appealing for a day that still had a slight chance of precipitation. After a 6-hour drive we camped at the trailhead Saturday night, then hiked up Sunday morning. The trail started just below snowline, but higher up we were wallowing through 3ft deep snow drifts. We made the summit at 11am in a near white-out, then got safely back to the car a few hours later.

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Abernathy Peak

Abernathy Peak

Eric and Katie
October 9, 2016

It was supposed to rain 3 inches in the mountains Saturday, but be dry Sunday, so we drove up Saturday afternoon through the north cascasdes, past the towns of Winthrop and Twisp and car camped at the scatter creek trailhead. Sunday morning we hiked a few hours up the trail and emerged at Scatter Lake, surrounded by beautiful yellow larches in full fall color. There was a little bit of fresh snow on the ground from the previous day but it was quickly melting. We easily hiked up the scree slopes from the lake to the summit of Abernathy by noon. There were already deep snow drifts up there that will probably last until next spring.

The views into the cascades were amazing. A few inches of snow covered the high peaks, then colorful larches spanned the mid slopes, and green trees down below. The cold wind forced us down, and we reached the car a few hours later.

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Packrafting the Skagit

Oct 1, 2016

Eric and Katie

We planted our bikes in Rockport, then drove up Highway 20 to the border of North Cascades National Park and put our packrafts in the Skagit River. It was a fun class I-II paddle down 16 miles back to Rockport, with a few heavy cold downpours of rain in between. We arrived about 1 hour before sunset, which was just enough time for me to bike back to the car by dark while Katie packed up the boats.

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