I've always loved the North Cascades and have seen a lot of beautiful places in the many times I have visited the mountains, but this time I saw something new. Mount Shuksan presented itself in way I had not quite seen before with any other mountain. Not even the photos do the full justice with how beautiful Mount Shuksan was, my friend Gimpilator tells me it's one of the most photographed mountains. I now understand why.
Through out the week Joanna and I tried to figure out a place to go (road washouts and long distances made trip planning harder), and finally the idea came about for Mount Ann. Certainly a great choice. Joanna once again picked me up from my house at 5:50 a.m. for the trip which we reach the trail head by 9 p.m. On the way it started out clear but as time progressed clouds came in.
The AdventureThe views from the parking lot alone were very nice, I would have been satisfied with only being this far, but around the corner was more beauty than I had anticipated. Starting off was nice and easy which we went over the pass and down the valley. As usual Holly was bighting on Joanna's boot/ankle, but that's her job after all.
It was so nice not being at school (I cleared it with school which this was the best day to be out) and besides with the bad weather heading in the weekend is bound to be terrible weather. As we look at the mountain we try to decide which way we want to go up, I did not like the looks of the cornice on Mount Annet. XDiablox and I saw people way up on Mount Ann which we then figured the center was our best approach up.
Eventually we get to an interesting creek where it's a bit deep below the snow banks, but fortunately we find a nice snow bridge which made crossing easier. We then headed on through some trees and then were at the basin of Mount Ann. Joanna had something in her boot which she took off her snowshoes and walked around no problem without them, so we all decide to take ours off. Sure enough a few minutes later we end up putting them back on. As we walked along we came across a group of nwhikers which most of them greeted me.
We then ascended up the slope which once again it was time to take off the snow shoes due to snow over ice. It started to feel like a game how many times I swapped, but fortunately no frozen straps so it was not big deal. As we went up a cornice avalanche broke off below Mount Annet which I was thankful we were not below that area. I almost photographed it but was so amazed by it that I some how could not. Looking over at Mount Shuksan had me impressed as well as the mountain atmosphere we were in. I was actually glad that it was not a perfectly clear day. I could have sat down and stared at the mountains for hours without getting even a little bit bored.
Later on when reaching the cornice between Ann and Annet Joanna was tired out from her sickness. Joanna could have made it to the summit but did not want us to get back in the dark. With it now being late in the day I now was the only one who would be able to summit Mount Ann. I then headed down the cornice and dashed to the summit. Looking behind me Shuksan was looking better than ever, I had to wipe off some snow from the camera which had me a little frustrated. But I manged to pull off a few photos.
From here on out if I wanted the summit, I would have to set photography to the side, but I couldn't help but look over at how beautiful the scenery was. On the last section it was a little steep so I had to once again take off my snow shoes and charge up the slope. I felt so excited in this place, I wished that someone else could have been with me when I reached the summit. At the top I took a few quick drinks, saw that it was getting late and hurried back down.
Heading over to Mount AnnetI hurried back down the steep section and then back on the ridge, I could see they already left, so now I had to make even more haste than before. But at the same time it was fun running along the ridge, especially in a place like this. As I caught a glimpse of Joanna, I yelled to her which I heard her talking with XDiablox which even though she had a quiet voice the place echoed voices so well I could hear light talking from far away. I then dashed on over and then up Mount Annet. Before I started all this running most of the day I felt perfectly fine, but this got me all tired out. At the summit I had to give the Picket Range a last look before heading down.
The Long Way BackThere were a few decent glissades I got on the way down which we made it down the mountain in decent time, it was after this though that time slowly slowed down. I gave a last solute to Mount Ann as we walked though the valley. The bad thing about solid snow on the way back is having to press more pressure on your right foot due to the slope (this problem did not exist with the opposite boot on the way in).
As we got towards the pass it was almost dark and I was getting tired which it amazed me how much harder by this point it was just to go over a little pass. After the pass even going to the parking lot felt like a long ways when in the beginning going up hill was no problem. I guess thats what a day in the mountains and having to run up another mountain does to you. This was a really cool trip with some amazing scenery, hope to do something like this soon!