Well it was a great January in Washington State weather-wise. Junuary typical is a term for cold, rainy weather in June but it can also be used as sunny weather in January. We might end up paying for it later in terms of a drought, water restrictions and potentially losing valuable snow on the glaciers but at least for now it was time to take advantage of it. I wish I could have gotten out a little more but I was able to take advantage of some of the weather breaks that were offered to me. It was great getting two minor sunburns as well as a ton of Vitamin D on what is typically one of the hardest months to do anything in the northwest.
On more than one occasion weather on the summits were in the 50's and 60's where typically there is over a hundred inches of snow falling in a month. Sweat, sun and shades seemed to be more of the weather then wind, clouds blizzards and avalanches. It was a great time to get out and a great way to start this wonderful year. I do hope we do see more snow but I was very glad for time that we to get out in the mountains while the weather was so good.
Higher Squire (1/6/14)
Three O'Clock Rock
With the weather staring out decent the only thing that prevented me from getting out in the mountains was the fact that I had work. My odd schedule at work prevented me from some hikes earlier in the week but after reading StephABegg's trip report on Higher Squire I knew I had to take a shot and visit this popular mountain. After all there was a lot of traffic going up Higher Squire and the weather had been good for at least a week so I knew that there was good snowshoe trench going all the way to summit. Because it was just Zephyrus and I none us really wanted to break trail on the way to the summit.
It was cold, damp morning down below and thick frost was making everything slippery from the beginning. By the time we hit Three O'Clock Rock the famous slab climbing place at the base of Higher Squire we were already putting on our micro-spikes on due to how slippery everything was. The Eightmile trail is definitely in need of some trail maintenance once we were past Three O'Clock Rock. It was very hard to any kind of traction on it even with micro-spikes. Once though we got off trail and past all the bushes the conditions dramatically improved.
On the summit snow
On the very last section to the summit both of us took off our snowshoes, broke out the ice axes and made the final 30 foot ascent to the summit.The trench that previous parties made really helped us attain the summit in good shape and we were able to enjoy the great views on this summit of Whitehorse and Three Fingers. After spending 30 minutes on the summit we enjoyed we were afraid to get burned so we decided to head down. This was the coldest summit that I was on in January and it was 45 on the summit.
Three Fingers from Higher Squire
Heading down was uneventful until we got back to the very rough Eightmile Trail which does leave something to be desired until Three O'Clock Rock. We were slow on that part of the trail but afterwords were able to cruise all of the way down to the car and easily beat sunset. Though it took a while to get going I was very glad to finally to be able to start off the new year. right.
French Point (1/14/14)
One of the only views on the cloudiest hike in Junuary!!
With time constraints and questionable snow issues due to one of the few bad weather times in Junuary, Gimpilator and I decided to go for another miniature mountain. This was the only cloudy hike of the month. The best thing about this trip that it had been over a year since the last time I was able to hike with Gimpilator. Thankfully that one year drought was finally ove and I was able to do a good hike with my friend Gimpilator. This time we headed off to French Point. This trail was an epic 2 miles and 550 elevation gain on a painfully well maintained logging road. The epic 100 foot bushwhack to the geocache register did leave scratches due to the thorns. Other than that it was just good to get outside. View were iffy today with Mount Higgins in and out of the clouds. I will definitely go back with either BearQueen or a newbie sometime on a better day. This was the second coldest of my January trips and the temperature was 50 degrees.
Clouds trying to break!!
Thompson Point (1/17/14)
Our group racing to the private cabin
In a couple of years I could easily see Thompson Point being the next Mailbox Peak. Luckily Zephyrus, Mike and I got there before this becomes a reality. The logging road that is now converted over to a trail was a good pick for what turned out to be the warmest hike at over 65 degrees on the summit. Honestly this was the first time that I was ever hot just laying in the Washington State sunshine in January. The hike did not start out though all that warm. The temperature inversion in the valley made it seasonably cool in the valley. There was a temperature inversion which does often happen once or twice a winter in Seattle and we were at the start of one on this hike.
Heading up to Thompson Point
We took a well known shortcut in an effort to try to summit Revolution Peak. We did not hit any snow until 2500 feet where we were able to put on micro-spikes. At 3500 feet we put on snowshoes although it was perfectly doable to continue up the road to Thompson Point without snowshoes and just to boot it up. Towards the top the lack of snow during the winter had made it much icier than expected on the road-walk. At this point the very warm Junuary sun was really starting to eat us all alive. Our bodies which had been so used to colder weather were really roasting and that was after we took off almost all of our layers.
The original goal but due to time constraints this peak will have to wait.
Once on top of Thompson Point we all knew that we were done and decided not to continue to Revolution Peak. I also had to be back at work during the night and we were well past our turn around time. We did hit the true summit of Thompson Point then headed back to the famous private cabin which is starting to deteriorate due to all of the weather on the mountain. Time will tell if they are ever able to save this Cabin but it was good to get up there while the cabin was there. We all got a lot of sun and yes I got a SUNBURN in January. From Thompson Point we could see down into valley and see the horrific inversion fog that was taking over Seattle. Most people in Seattle never saw much of the sun that day and the temperature was 15 degrees cooler in the city than on that mountain.
The Olympics and the temperature inversion
Heading down was uneventful until the final section. We hit a steep trail at dusk which forced us to really slow down and take our time down the mountain. The roots from the trees were now very slippery from the evening due. Even though the temperature was much cooler at this point we were sweating a lot and very tired from the 12 mile hike. We struggled all the way back to our car where even the logging road was becoming slippery. Luckily despite one major slip we all made it back to our car safe and sound and I was able to make it back to work with plenty of time to spare.
Looking back at Thompson Point
Bald Mountain (1/25/14)
Bald Mountain from the road
For the final hike of Junuary, my hiking partner Zephyrus had to get his winter mountaineering boots resoled. The result of that was that we decided on peak that was below snowline. Typically that would be a peak at the 1000 foot level but because of all of the warm weather the snowline now was very high at about 3000 feet. Yet again there was a temperature inversion and the higher a hiker went up to 6000 feet the warmer the weather. We decided on a small but very cool looking summit up by Lake Cavanaugh. BeauDaddy gave this peak a great write up and we were both looking forward to a great scramble.
Handline up the steep section
Bald Mountain up by Lake Cavanaugh truly fit the bill. The forest road up not bad at all and gave some nice views of Bald Mountain. Luckily it was drive for the scramble up the mountain. The route itself reminded me of a very bad New Hampshire trail only without the wear and tear that most New Hampshire trails have. Someone put up a large string for the bulk of the route and a solid rope for some of the harder sections. The scramble was only Class 2 but the route up was very steep and it was easy to break a sweat on the scramble.
The Olympics and the inversion layer
As for the views on the top, there was no view on the true summit. However there were a number of excellent views from many of ledges that surround the summit area. It was about 50-55 degrees on the summit and the warm sunshine again made it feel warmer. On the way down I again got some more color on the skin and more Vitamin D into my body. It was great to get out enjoy the good weather and take at least some advantage of the rare Washington sunshine.
Another final shot of Bald Mountain
Hey it couldn't be a Washington trip report without a token Rainier shot.
Now that it is February the weather has started to change. But I won't ever forget how wonderful the weather was for this January. I was so glad to get out and enjoy the sunshine. My body can clearly feel the sunshine on the body from this January and my mood is much better than it has been in the past. Hopefully this is the symbol for a good hiking and climbing season. For me the last couple of years have been a bit of a struggle getting out for me. It looks like though that this year will not be a repeat of previous years.