I Made This Mistake So You Don’t Have To
It was Labor Weekend and my friend Don and I were hoping to knock off a good scramble or an awesome mountain. Unfortunately the weather on the western side of the mountains did not look so hot. So we decided to go as east as we could to avoid the bad weather yet maybe get lucky with some great views. Blewett Pass seemed to be the perfect place for this trip. Unfortunately I did not look up the area very well because had I looked it up I would have known that this is a prime spot for large Larch trees and a great place to see fall colors. It looks like for a second week in a row I was a month off in finding the primetime season in going to these areas. It is far from the worst mistake I have ever made but I really wish I had waited. Good thing for the reader is that if you love larches, Diamond Head, Tronsen Knob and Tronsen Head are the perfect places to spot them.
My friend Don and I decided to go for the three peaks of Diamond Head, Tronsen Head and Tronsen Knob via Tronsen Meadows. Tronsen Meadows located very close to the actual Blewett Pass with the road turnoff being less than a mile east of Blewett Pass. The road up was rough with a number of ruts and at one point a log in the middle of the road but today my friends Camry did manage. That being said I would recommend a high clearance vehicle for this road for the next time.
Once at the trailhead we took the Tronsen Meadows trail up to the gap. Along the way came the first reminders of the mistake I made. There a large number of big larches which of course were mostly green and all I could do was imagine how beautiful this place would be and slap myself for not waiting a month here. The trail up though was quiet dusty and because of the heavy dirt bike usage it was actually was a little unpleasant walking up the dusty ruts. Once up to the gap we made a right onto the Mount Lillian trail for a brief trip Southeast and then turned off on the Table Mountain Trail. We took that trail a little ways which was more pleasant than the Tronsen Meadows trail. From there we took a side path to the summit of Tronsen Head.
Once up on the plateau like summit we got to overlook the dramatic western cliffs of Tronsen Head. It was quiet impressive to see the dramatic difference between the dramatic western cliff and the eastern gently rolling slopes of Tronsen Head. Equally impressive was the views of Tronsen Knob and Diamond Head from the summit. Of course this view would have been far more impressive a month later. :(
Once done with Tronsen Head we decided to go for neighboring Tronsen Knob. Tronsen Knob does not have much literature on it but the peak actually looked quiet decent so I wanted to give it a shot. We came back down Tronsen Head and stayed on the trail until it intersected another trail. I noticed though the main went to the left there was a well booted ski path that went to the right. We took that path in hopes that it leads us to the base of Tronsen Knob and luck for us it did. Once at the base of Tronsen Knob we decided to ascend the steeper grassy fields of Tronsen Knob all the way to the summit, where great views of the Enchantments to the west and smaller green larch filled summits to the east await. This peak had by far the best summit cairn of all three peaks and felt the most like a true summit.
From there we took a ski trail to boot path that lead indirectly to the pass which lead to the summit of Diamond Head. This boot path though kept turning in weird spots and a couple of times we had to stop just to make sure we did not overstep our intended target. Once in the pass we noticed that someone left their campfire going to burn out naturally. I honestly can’t believe that with all the videos out on forest fires and all of the forest fires that naturally burn on this side of Washington that people continue to do really ignorant things like that. We kicked it out made sure it was out for a couple minutes and then proceeded on. From the pass we went directly up to the true summit and spent some in the south and northern cliff of Diamond Head.
Though very top didn’t have a view due to trees the northern and southern ends of the plateau like peak had great views. Particularly impressive are the views off of the northern end. It was interesting and slightly unnerving standing on the edge off a sheer cliff. The view down to Blewett Pass as well as the Teanaway and the Enchantments was well worth the effort. On the south end the views were good to, especially to some of the southern and eastern more rolling summit. Yet again though we would be far more impressed a month later because most of these smaller summits are just covered with tall larches.
Heading back to the Car
From the summit we headed back to the pass. Once in the pass we checked the campfire area again to make sure it was safe and then decided to bushwhack down (north) the creek area and possibly pick up a ski trail. This short but very steep bushwhack was easily the crux of the trip. The forests were thick and the slopes were steep but we managed through the thick forest and picked up a good ski trail just shortly down from the pass. From there we relied on ski trails, mysterious forest roads and a little bushwhacking to get us back to the car. Our orientation though was very good and with both for our instincts being strong we made it back to the car in good time.
Yes I should have waited and there are far worse mistakes to make that going a month early in the mountains. Also I should be very happy I picked Blewett Pass because we stayed very dry and all of our summits had no cloud cover. Most of all it was three successful summits in one day. I just wish I got to see those larches during the fall. Maybe I will just have to go back.
I also want to thank my friend Don for coming on this trip. He has great insight and is great company on these trips. He also was a really trooper driving in that foggy, rainy, slop back to Seattle. I hope to do many more hikes and climbs with him in the future.