Snowshoe to Red Mountain Summit
While most of Washington was at home watching the playoff game, I decided to tackle Red Mountain near Salmon La Sac. I failed to reach this summit last spring after a long loop from Thorp Mountain, and a few weeks ago due to deep powder and a lack of snowshoes. Third time is the charm.
The thermometer in my car read 5 degrees when I parked on Salmon La Sac road where it meets Road 46. The Forest road was recently groomed for winter recreation and closed to wheeled vehicles, which added 2 miles to the round trip but at least snowshoes were not necessary for the road walk. There was not a cloud in the sky and from the bridge I had a perfect view of Davis Peak and Mount Daniels.
My planned route started at the summer trail after the last big creek, in order to avoid any potentially hazardous crossing. Beyond the road there was a thin surface crust over 3-4 inches of powder and a solid layer of consolidated snow beneath that. I found occasional relief from the trail-breaking under the canopy of the larger trees where their melt-off provided a firm footing.
Above 4500' the surface firmed up and Mount Stuart rose into view behind Jolly Mountain and Sasse Mountain to the East. About 200' below the summit the sun disappeared behind a high layer of clouds and that was the last I saw of it until I returned to Renton. This made for a cold summit visit, and so I didn't stay long after pictures and a snack.
Most of Mount Adams was visible over the Rainier foothills and I could even see Mount Baker far to the North behind Cathedral Rock. This was the first time I am certain that I was looking at Mount Hinman as well as Mount Daniels, both of which I hope to visit this year.
The descent was quick and painless plunge-stepping through sun softened powder. We didn't see a soul on the mountain until we were passed by a few snowmobiles down at the road. What an amazing day in the Cascades!