"And isn't sanity really just a one-trick pony anyway? I mean all you get is one trick, rational thinking, but when you're good and crazy, ooh ooh ooh, the sky is the limit!" -The Tick
When: October 16-17, 2010
Who Came: Michael, Holly, Joanna, Rex and myself
Elevation Gain: 7,000 feet? (Unsure, many diffrent people say diffrent hieghts)
Distance: 20 Miles?
Ending Elevation: 7433 feet high
I had been wanting to climb Snowking for Years, I would always see it on maps as well but some how I would end up missing it, but this time I got what I want. The trip started when Joanna picked us up at 8 a.m. from my house and off to the mountains we went. After passing Marblemount I was pleased to be heading into my favorite valley on Earth... the Cascade Valley. When we got to the trail head there was only one other car which meant we pretty much had the entire place to ourselves. How lovely.
White Horse Mountain from Darrington.
We started out walking the road which was perhaps a few miles, but then we got to the "trail head". From here the trail got thin, steep, and very bushy. "Time to Party" I excitedly announced as we headed on up. The trail was like that of Eldorado Peak, steep and with bushes. For a few hours we traveled up through the woods. Later on we get to an interesting section which Joanna remembers very well in winter, the place had mini crevasses around. Without even being there in winter I could tell it would have been a bit worry some to travel through that section, there was a pit that looked 30 feet deep and no escape on any ends. In summer time it was no problem, although we had to make sure the dogs didn't get to close to them. After this we then could see Snowking, to be honest I thought Snow Queen looked more impressive because she was covered with much Glacier.
Joanna hiking on Snowking
By now the sun was getting close to setting, which meant it was time to make haste to Cyclone lake for our camp site. We had to traverse down the ridge to go back up again. As we came into open areas the North Cascades became widely open and my perspective of the Cascade Valley had changed, things look a lot different from what you expect in person versus on a map (except for large peaks with few peaks around, those are predictable in my opinion). It was also nice to get a look at my favorite Mountain which is Sahale. Finally we arrive at camp.
Immediatelywe layer up because the sun was setting and we were done hiking for the day. We still were a ways from the lake, the only water supply near by was a old dirty tarn. The water had a greenish look even after being filtered, on top of that much of it was frozen or super cold. (Thanks Joanna for filtering water). Michael got the cooking party started which we enjoyed Hot chocolate and top romen as the sun set and the moon came out. I have to admit this is one of those places I did not feel like leaving, it was almost like being at home.
Alpenglow on Eldorado Peak
In the tent we played a few rounds of cards (Hearts), had some good talks, and headed off for bed. Before going to bed I attempted to get some night photography in. "Finally the conditions are perfect for me to get some good night photography!" I exclaimed as my camera was processing the last few seconds of my long shutter speed photo. Suddenly it turned off. I tried it again, this time having even less time. "Curses! I knew I should have charged the camera longer!", sadly as a result I was unable to get any photos that night, even the next day I would be low on power. The next morning we woke up shortly before sunrise.
Sunrise from Camp
After having breakfast we start on for the rest of the trip. From camp we hiked on down to Cyclone lake to filter some water, what we had not predicted was that not only was some of the lake water frozen, but the water inside the filter was frozen! Michael spent a while trying to unfreeze the filter, but sadly it did not work out, I was low on water at this point. But you know what they say "Suck it up", although I wish I could.
Cyclone Lake Reflection
Rex and Holly Playing
We had another hill which we had to go over. I think for me this was the most intense part of the trip, there was ice on the ground and it was a bit steep through woods. I almost could say an ice axe would have been nice, Michael did not like my route which he took a different way up. As for myself I had to grab onto branches and such in order to keep myself from sliding down the slope. Fortunately it was not super long although a fall could have gotten me scratched up and such. At the top of the hill we find ourselves dashing back down to finally step foot onto the mountain.
The start it was a basic hike with some boulders and such, but then as we went on things got a little interesting. I'll admit I took some routes Michael did not feel comfortable doing which had some small slab scrambling, and I would use my tennis shoe rubber to help me up, kinda like slab rock climbing. As we went on some of the slabs had sheets of ice which forced me to retreat from the steeper slabs. From here we finally caught up to Joanna. After scrambling over a few spots with ice, Joanna decided to call it quits. She was certainly capable of making the summit but she admitted it might take too long for her to safely travel over the icy scamble spots.
Michael and Joanna
There were a few minor up and down spots on the ridge as we went up, the slope ahead did not look too bad. As we got pretty close to the summit there was snow/ice on the rocks which slowed our progress. When we got about 200 feet from the top Michael wondered if he would feel comfortable on the scramble ahead. I went a little bit ahead, and sure enough there was a section that Rex would not be able to do. I told Michael and he said he would look after Rex and he could always summit another time. So I then went for the summit and did the last little scramble. The summit views were very impressive, there was more glacier on the mountain that I had though. One of the people on the summit (there was another party) threw a large rock down the West face. It went thousands of feet down, rolled across what looked like the whole glacier and bounced a crevasse, I assume it went at least a mile.
Beautiful Lake Reflection
Yours Truly on the Summit
Glacier Peak to the South
I then hurry on down to Michael. As we go down Michael saw the other party glissading so he went on the edge of the glacier and joined them as well, perhaps it would have been the best way. I decided not to, plus Rex did not like the Glacier Moat between the rock and the glacier. I hurriedly dashed down the icy rocks and randomly thought of Joe Simpson of when he crawled down rocks with a broken leg. Not a moment later after I thought that I slipped on some ice. I hit my shin very hard. The pain of it had me wondering what I had done to it, although I was thankful I had not broken anything. I could see a little bit of blood through my pants. I had to lay down for at least 10 minutes or was it longer? Once my shin felt less hurt I finally started to slowly go down.
I then started to become very thirsty because I was completely out of water due to what had happened earlier, and I started to get a bit of a head ache. Once we got out of the icy rock section I call the rest of the trip "Home Free" because I did not have to worry as much about slipping and hurting myself. Later on I decided to have a fun moment where Michael was above me as well as the sun, and have him stand in front of the sun. The camera kept running out of power by this point, which meant I only had seconds to capture the photo each time. Fortunatley I got at least one that satisfied me. Then once we got out of the semi icy zone we then could go faster for the descent. Now the thoughts were swirling through my head "We got to hurry, we must get to Joanna within a reasonable time" which is why I was in a hurry on the way down. We went back over to Cyclone lake and then to our camp.
Enjoying a nice spot in the Sun
Michael and Snowqueen
At Camp Joanna took the stove (good thinking, I'll bet we would have been even more late if you didn't) but she left us some cheese which was pleasant. The water filter finally worked again which had me excited. After getting some food in us, we hated to have to get back up and leave Snowking. Frm here on we dashed on down the mountain trying to get to the J-O-A as soon as possible. I gave Sahale one last look before I left and gave my honorary solute. Then it began to get dark, which was spent in the woods.
View of the Moon
The Meadow during Sunset
When we got to the service road Michael said "Be on the look out for a pop can" which neither of us could find. We kept going down the narrow road which had bushes and such all down the side. Michael became very suspicious of this. "You don't suppose this is the old Cascade Road?" he asked me. I started to wonder myself, after traveling perhaps a mile or so down we did not recognize the fallen over trees. We eventually decided to turn around and head back up. The moon was shining brightly through the trees and I began to think "Oh boy, is this another round of exciting adventure?". As we ran back up (which had more elevation gain that I had thought) we came across the group that I saw on the summit. They checked there gps and sure enough we were on track. Joanna it turns out grabbed the pop can on her way out, and we had not remembered the road on that section. If we had gone perhaps 200 or more feet we would have reached the bridge and would have known where we were. The getting "lost" part added a few miles to the trip. We soon arrived at the real trail head.
Joanna took a nice nap and was not angry about us being hours later from when she arrived which I was relieved. We then went home from here and I of course fufilled the hiking tradition to get chocolate milk at the Darrington gas station which always sells it for $1.80. Once again another fun adventure, now I'm looking forward to the winter season ahead!