Kentucky Peakbagging – Joe Lick Knob

Our route up Robe Mountain. Joe Lick Knob is a few miles north.

Kentucky Peakbagging – Robe Mountain (1,527ft) and Joe Lick Knob (1,483ft)

Eric and Keith

November 22, 2017

We hiked into the woods near Blue Lick Creek, and up to the side of Basin Mountain until it started getting really steep. Then we traversed on an old logging road grade, and hiked steeply up to the north summit of Robe Mountain, a peak I’d never been to before. There were excellent views of Berea back to the west. From there we followed the ridge south to Robe Mountain and briefly picked up a trail to a small saddle. We then left the saddle and descended steeply back to our ascent route, and made it back to the car.

On the way home we stopped to tag the summit of Joe Lick Knob, another prominent hill just to the north that I’d never visited before.

Snoqualmie Pass Overnight

Matthew next to the snow shelter

Snoqualmie Pass Overnight

Matthew and Eric

November 18-19, 2017

Matthew flew up for the weekend, and on Saturday morning we started hiking out of Snoqualmie Pass. There was a lot of snow, but luckily the trail was broken for the first few miles. Eventually, however, whoever had broken trail had turned around, and it was up

Hiking around snow lake to the campsite

to us to continue. We took turns slowly making progress, sinking in about a foot with each step. At least 10 other hikers caught up to us, but decided to stay far enough behind that they would never have to be responsible for breaking trail.

Eric chest-deep in powder trying to break trail

We eventually reached a pass and descended to Snow Lake. After traversing around the lake we found a nice spot to camp for the night, and started piling up snow for a snow shelter. A few hikers caught up to us, thinking we were on the trail since we had broken a path right to our snow shelter. We informed them that the trail was farther down the hill, and they were welcome to continue, but without a broken trail they didn’t want to go any farther, and turned around.

We completed the big snow shelter in a few hours, and it was almost tall enough to stand up inside! We also dug out a huge fire pit in the 5-ft-deep snow, and had a roaring fire while we ate dinner.

The next morning we pushed farther into the woods, climbing the southeast summit of Wright Peak by lunchtime. Afterwards we turned back to the snow shelter to pick up our gear, then made it to the trailhead shortly before heavy rain started.

Olympic Coast Hiking

Katie on Cape Flattery at sunset

Olympic Coast and Cape Alava (Westernmost point in continental US)

Eric and Katie

Nov 10-12, 2017

We headed west out of Seattle on Friday morning and tried to stop off at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, but snow had already closed the road. We continued west and reached Cape Flattery in the evening. After a short 0.5-mile hike we got to the coast for an amazing view of sunset over Tatoosh Island. We stealth-camped nearby that evening in the woods.

The next morning we drove to Ozette in Olympic National Park, and hiked a few miles west to the coast. We timed it so we reached the coast at low tide, and hiked out to Cannonball Island on Cape Alava to reach the westernmost dryland point in the continental US.

We then hiked south down the coast, admiring lots of seastacks, then hiked back to the trailhead in the rain. That night we slept in the trailhead parking lot in pouring rain, and drove back to Seattle the next morning.

Pratt Lake

Pratt Lake

Group picture (taken by other Eric)

Eric, Ethan, Cleo, Annajoy, Eric

November 7, 2017

A group of 5 former MITOCers joined up Tuesday morning for a snowy hike up to Pratt Lake. Ethan and I broke trail in snowshoes through a surprising amount of snow, to the edge of Pratt Lake, about 5 miles in. We had lunch at the lake, then hiked back to the car that afternoon.


Thompson Point

The cabin near the summit

Thompson Point (5,124ft)

Eric Gilbertson

November 5, 2017

I drove out into the mountains on a rainy, snowy Sunday morning, aiming to get up a below-treeline mountain. Thompson point is very close to Seattle, only 45 minutes away, and I started up the trail at 9am. It was raining at the trailhead, but soon changed to snow, which got deeper and deeper. For some reason I left the snowshoes in the car, and regretted this as I postholed through thigh-deep drifts.

After a few hours I reached the summit of Thompson Point, at the end of an old abandoned logging road. I considered going farther, but the parking lot had a gate that supposedly closed at dusk, so I didn’t want to get stuck. I stopped by at an interesting cabin near the summit, then made it back down to the car a few hours later, cold and soaked.

Clark and Luahna Mountains

Clark Mountain (8,602ft) and Luahna Peak (8,400ft)

Clark Mountain from my campsite, at sunset

Eric Gilbertson

October 28-29, 2017

I had attempted these mountains on Tuesday with Duncan, but had to turn back at the edge of treeline because our progress was too slow in the deep crusty snow. Luckily there was another weather window during the weekend, and I hoped to return to take advantage of the broken trail.

I had no luck finding a partner, so just went solo. Because it would be slow-going doing all the trail breaking myself, I decided to break the trip into an overnight trip. I left town at 5am Saturday morning, and was at the trailhead by 8am. The first section of trail was flat, so I brought my mountain bike to save time. Unfortunately, despite the sunny days all week, there was still a decent amount of snow all the way down at the trailhead. However, since the snow was compacted from my earlier footprints from tuesday, it was actually just barely bikeable.

Tough biking in the snow, but it did save some time, and added some fun

I biked in to the vicinity of the wilderness boundary, and then proceeded on foot. Surprisingly, much of the higher levels of the trail toward boulder pass were actually melted out to the ground, probably because they were south facing. The snow eventually returned, though, and I reached our previous turnaround point around 11:30am. From here I donned my snowshoes and started the tough task of breaking trail through 3ft of slush.

I crossed through a big open meadow area, then started ascending toward the southeast spur from Clark Mountain. It was tough going, but eventually I reached an upper basin, whose steep heather walls were only lightly covered with snow. This was actually pretty sketchy, because steep grass with a light covering of snow is extremely slippery.

After traversing the slopes to a waterfall, I carefully climbed up to an upper bench just below the southeast ridge. I gained the ridge at the rightmost of a set of double notches, but got cliffed out on the other side. So I scrambled northwords along the ridge a few hundred yards, and here found the correct class 2/3 descent gully.

The gully was filled with snow, but luckily it was very slushy so I plunge-stepped my way down to the base. From there I traversed steep snow slopes to the broad

My ascent route, the southeast face of Clark Mountain, viewed from to top of the class 2/3 descent gully

southeast face of Clark Mountain. There were plenty of melting snow-water runnels, so I actually just carried 1L of water the whole day and refilled it frequently.

I snowshoes up to the south ridge of Clark Mountain, and then took off the snowshoes and scrambled up the fun

class 3 rock ridge to the summit, reaching the top by 4:30pm. I briefly considered camping right there on the top, but there was still daylight left and I wanted to make more progress towards my next goal, Luahna Peak.

I was a bit nervous about how to get to Luahna, because one route description I’d read recommended rappelling down the west face of Clark to get to Lulahna. However, when I inspected the west face it actually didn’t look too bad. I scrambled down the ridge about 100ft to a big notch, and then easily scrambled down the notch and traversed north onto easier terrain.

From there I continued descending and traversing, until I reached rocky, melted-out slopes on point 7970. I traversed around this small peak, until I reached a rocky ridge, with my first good view of Luahna Peak. There didn’t

My campsite on the tiny ledge, with Luahna in the background

appear to be any easy way up Luahna, but I’d read there was a 3rd class route on the west face.

I just happened to be on a small flat section of the ridge, and noticed that the sun would set in about 20 minutes. My spot was actually a perfect campsite, because it was out of any danger zone of falling rocks or ice, so I decided to camp right there. I leveled out a spot with snow just barely big enough for my tent, and set about preparing camp.

After a nice dinner of ramen noodles while enjoying the sunset over the snowcovered cascades, I crawled in my tent and went to sleep around 7:30pm.

The next morning I poked my head out of the tent at sunrise, and was met with brilliant morning colors behind Clark Mountain. It was pretty amazing to see sunrise and sunset from above treeline in these wintery conditions. I quickly packed up and started moving. Unfortunately the snow was still icy and firm, so I had to either stay on the rocks, or carefully kick good steps into the snow. I had a whippet as my ice axe, and an extra pole to plunge into the snow, so snow traverses were pretty safe.

Sunrise from my campsite, with Clark Mountain

I traversed over to the west face of Luahna, and eventually ditched my pack to go faster. With just my jacket and whippet, I scrambled up steep rocks, kicked steps in the icy snow, and eventually found a 3rd class gully leading the rest of the way to the summit.

Me on the summit of Luahna, with Glacier Peak in the background

The views were amazing of Glacier Peak to the west, and Baker and Shuksan to the north. I recognized a bunch of peaks to the east that I’d done back in September before the snows started. For reference, the summit of Luahna is not actually big enough to pitch a tent, though you could sleep in a bivy sack up there if you wanted (that had been my original hope if I’d been faster hiking on Saturday).

After a brief break I carefully downclimbed my route back to my pack. To get back to the trailhead I planned to descend directly down to Thunder Creek to make a big loop. This would have been an excellent time to have skis, because it was one giant snowfield basically all the way down. However, I just had my snowshoes, so had to make do.

I hiked down as far as possible on rocks to the edge of the last melted-

Nice fall colors on the hike out.

out area, then stopped to take a break.

Surprisingly, I found an ice axe laying in the scree right where I was resting! Someone must have dropped it long ago, but it had now found a good new home with me.

I donned my snowshoes, and carefully walked down the icy slope a few thousand feet to treeline. Once in the trees the snow got slushier and the going easier. There was supposedly a faint climbers trail in these trees somewhere, but the undergrowth was so open and there was so much snow I didn’t bother looking for it.

I soon made it down to Thunder Creek, and then picked up an old trail down to the White River. The trail was covered in snow down in the valley, and was actually very difficult to follow for a few miles where it had been wiped out by avalanches and now covered in alder bushes. Unfortunately for me, the recent big snow event had matted down most of the bushes, but was now melting enough that they would randomly pop out of the snow as I walked by. I actually got smacked in the face quite a few times, making this one of most annoying

Descent route from west face of Clark (class 3).

bushwhacks I’ve ever done.

Ascent/descent route on Luahna (class 3).

After a few hours of bushwhacking on what I expected to be the trail, I eventually reached my bike, and cruised back to the trailhead through the snow. I made it back to seattle late that afternoon after another exciting mountaineering trip.



Clark Mountain Attempt

Clark Mountain (8,602ft) Attempt to 5,000ft

Eric and Duncan

October 24, 2017

The Tuesday weather forecast was warm and sunny, so Duncan and I drove out of town Monday night to the White River trailhead. The previous weekend was extremely wet, with 5-10″ of water equivalent, which translated to up to 9ft of snow at the higher elevations. We thought snowline would be around 5,000ft, but unfortunately it was all the way down to 2,000ft at the trailhead.

We knew the unexpected snow would slow us down, but we decided to give the mountain a shot anyways. After a shorty foray on an incorrect trail in the morning, we eventually started hiking on the correct trail at 5am. The snow was about 6″-12″ deep for the first 4 miles, but eventually got up to several feet deep higher on the mountain. We took turns breaking trail, but didn’t reach the edge of treeline until 10:30am. The snow looked to be getting even deeper higher up, where we’d have to leave the trail.

We projected that we could make the summit (the weather was amazing), but probably wouldn’t get back to the car before midnight at our pace. That didn’t sound good to me, since I had to give an 8am lecture the next morning that I didn’t want to risk missing, so we decided to turn around.

We made it to the car by 3:30pm, after 19-miles of hiking, so it was still a good workout. Hopefully I can return soon to take advantage of the broken trail.

Silver Peak

Silver Peak (5,605ft)

Eric and Birkan

October 22, 2017

Birkan and I decided to get some exercise in on Sunday despite all the rain and wind, so we drove up to Snoqualmie Pass in the morning, then along a rough forest service road to the PCT junction and Windy Pass. We hiked south on the PCT in the cold rain for a few hours, then cut right up a climbers trail towards Silver Peak. The snow got deeper and deeper, eventually a few feet deep. We popped out of the trees amid strong wind and snow, and scrambled up the steep ridge to the summit. It felt like a winter day on Mt Washington in New Hampshire.

Before long we retreated back to the safety of the trees, and hiked back to the car, soaking wet.

Remmel Mountain

Katie approaching the summit, with the Pasayten Wilderness below

Remmel Mountain (8,685 ft)

Eric and Katie

October 14-15, 2017

The fires in theĀ  Pasayten had finally died down with the fresh snow, so we headed out Friday night to try to climb Remmel Mountain, one of the Washington Hundred Highest peaks that’s farthest away from Seattle. The original plan was to drive to the 30-mile-campground trailhead past Winthrop, but unfortunately we discovered at midnight that the road was closed 10 miles before the trailhead for some construction. I guess I didn’t do all my homework researching this trip.

Near our campsite at Four Point Lake

There was another trailhead about 15 miles farther north from the closure point, near Windy Peak, but it would require an additional 2.5-hour drive spiraling around to Loomis to get there. I really wanted to climb Remmel still, so kept driving. We reached the new trailhead around 3am, and it looked like winter already up there at 6,000 ft. There were a few inches of snow on the ground, and the temperature was only 7F !

We slept in the car next to a few other trucks (probably hunters), and got up at 9am the next morning. What was supposed to be a “sunny” day turned out to be snow showers all day. The trail was pretty, though, as we descended down to the Chewuch River, then up the river to Four Point Lake about 13 miles later. There were 6 inches of snow on the ground at the lake, and it was still actively snowing and socked in at 4pm when we arrived. Our original plan was to summit that evening, but instead we decided to just break trail a mile farther, then return the next morning in hopes of better weather.

By sunset we were back at the lake. We cooked a quick dinner of Ramen Noodles and went to sleep. Luckily it wasn’t

Eric near the summit

as cold that night, maybe only in the 20s, and we got up at 5am to start our trip. We hiked the first mile or so in the dark, following our tracks, and by dawn were hiking up the southeast slope of Remmel on an excellent old abandoned trail. This is actually one of only two of the Washington Hundred Highest mountains that has a trail to the top!

It was still tough at times breaking trail through the deep snow, but we summitted at 8am under clear skies. We’d definitely made the right call to wait for the weather to improve. We could see British Columbia just 10 miles to our north, and Mt Baker far to the west.

After a short break we descended back down to the lake, and hiked back out to the car. All the snow had melted from the trailhead when we got back around 3:45pm, and lots more hunters were parked in the lot. It was a long 6-hour drive back to Seattle, but we stopped in Winthrop on the way for a nice dinner.