June 25, 2010

Snow, snow, go away!

Filed under: Hiking, North Cascades — geezerwriter @ 12:04 pm
At the "corral"

At the "corral"

We had fourteen hikers turn out for the trek up Church Mountain, and I think I speak for just about everyone when I say we are getting more than a little fed up with all this snow. But at least it didn’t rain this time. It was more or less sunny when we started up the trail, but the clouds descended as we rose.

I turned and grabbed the picture on the right as we reached the old hitching rail at the first switchback. This first stretch was once a continuation of the road and the “corral” marks the spot where the workers would unload the mules and supplies for the resupply trips to the fire lookout that used to perch on the summit. Many of our favorite trails follow these old mule trails.

The whole crew

The whole crew

The trip was uneventful and we made good time. The trail is quite steep and relentlessly uphill, but it was a walk in the park compared to last week’s slog to Welcome Pass. The very, very steepest bits of the Church trail are about like the average for Welcome.

We arrived at the edge of the meadows at about 11:30 and, and after checking that everyone was present and accounted for, set off across the snow. We had never expected to make it to the fire lookout site on this day, but were heading for one of the pretty open areas in the meadows where the views are.

At least I thought we were all crossing the snow – I was busy finding and kicking a track in the solid but slippery-mushy snow (and punching the occasional posthole) before I noticed that about half the group had stopped and settled down for lunch back at the tree line. Ah, well.

The ad hoc forward contingent didn’t go far before we, too, settled down on a snow-free spot on top of a little knoll, still within view of the rear guard, where we could enjoy the skimpy views that the descending cloud cover permitted. Baker was hidden both by trees and clouds, but a small piece of Ptarmigan Ridge managed to slip under the clouds and between the trees.

Ptarmigan Ridge

Ptarmigan Ridge

The trip down was fast and as trouble free as the way up had been, a far cry from last week, when people were sliding and falling every which way. The trail was mostly dry and gentle enough that you could actually take something like a normal step most of the time. The only problem was that some hikers seemed to be suffering from an advanced case of chocolate deprivation – Jan, our steadfast blogger and provider of fresh brownies was forced to choose between us and a day in the dentist chair, and we lost.

By the time we reached the trailhead, the sun was out again. All in all, very nice day in the woods, if I do say so. But we really could do with a little sun (or even rain, but not on Thursdays) to clear away the snow. Unfortunately, the forecast is for the cool weather to continue indefinitely, so it will continue to be a challenge to find good high country hikes in the coming weeks.


1 Comment »

  1. I’m so sorry that I chose the dentist instead of you guys! Since they had to drill the temporary off, I coud easily have kept it for another two weeks!! And now I’m still in pain, although I’m hoping it will go away soon so I won’t have to get a root canal. Enough of that! It looks like you did have fun without me, and I’m sure that the reason for the early stop was chocolate deprivation. That and enough snow to last a few months.

    BTW, I’ve been looking at snowshoes on line and plan to get a pair of MSRs, just not sure right now which ones. Sorry I broke yours, Al! And it was pretty darn thoughtless of you all to have had so much fun! Next time I’ll choose the hike.Thanks for the quick post, I was going to call you!

    Comment by DJan — June 25, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

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