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The Trip Report
Well it had been a long time since Gimpilator, Redwic and I had all teamed up to do some summit bagging together. I had done a couple of hikes with Redwic and a couple more hikes Gimpilator but as a trio it was a very long time since us three SPer’s all combined for some good old fashion peak-bagging. This weeks adventure was going to be Abiel Peak, Silver Peak and Tinkham Peak located just south of the Hyak Ski Area. In summer all three of these peaks are easily attainable with Silver Peak, the highest peak being a general walkup (YDS Class 1), Abiel Peak being Class 2 (areas of scrambling but no exposure), and Tinkham Peak have a one short Class 3 traverse move (gully) with the rest being Class 2. Normally during the summer all three summits can be combined in a little over 6-7 hours depending on conditions. I had been on Tinkham with friend and east coast SPer Nartreb in August and went to Silver Peak last year with TNAB but had never been to Abiel Peak. Gimpilator and Redwic had not been on any of the peaks so it was going to be there time to get the trio.
When we got to the trailhead we noticed that Silver Peak and Tinkham Peak were covered with a light dusting of snow. For me, it raised the caution flag a little because I knew very well what Tinkham Peak was like and the thought of going up that peak in icy conditions was not appealing. But I knew Silver was good and I really wanted to see Abiel Peak and give this peak a good shot. I knew I was with a very strong team (both Redwic and Gimp are on pace to have 100 summit years) so it was time to head up from Windy Pass. We all got our maps and gear ready and headed for Abiel Peak first.
Taking the PTC to the Silver Peak trailhead was no problem. The gentle grades of the PTC and the gradual grades up and the one set of switchbacks were very easy to attain on this mountain. It didn’t take long for us to get to the cairned Silver Peak cutoff. It should be noted that this cutoff is way for all three peaks. We headed up the steeper Silver Peak trail up to gap between Silver and Tinkham Peaks where we first started to note a thin layer of snow and ice on trail. Once past the Tinkham Peak cutoff bootpath we began to look for the Abiel Peak. After a little ways up the Silver Peak trail we notice a bootpath heading up to Abiel Peak. Redwic had some problem with his GPS labeling the west summit of Tinkham Peak incorrectly as Abiel Peak, but luckily with our maps, our studying of past trip report and the fact that I had already been to Tinkham Peak (both west and east summits) we remained on course. We rose over the initial bump on our way to Abiel and then headed to a quick gap before making a steep Class 2 rise to the summit of Abiel.
The bootpath up the last leg of Abiel switched from bootpath, to unexposed rock scramble and the crossing of a scree field. The thin (less than an inch) layer of snow and ice wasn’t bad but it did add a little difficulty with my worn out hiking boots. Gimpilator lead the way up doing a great job in leading the way to the summit and soon we were on the summit of Abiel Peak where we greeted with a nice view of just clouds. On the way up it looked like the clouds might break here a little but this was not to be. We only stayed for ten minutes and then headed to Silver Peak. On our way down I was a little more cautious due to the fact that my feet were sliding on some of the wet rock here. It looked like it might be time to retire my hiking boots now. My knee was acting up a little as well but not too bad. But we still made decent time down and then headed to Silver.
On the way up Silver Peak, I was contemplating rather it was a good idea for me to continue to head to Tinkham or to stay back and enjoy the views from Silver. Redwic and Gimpilator thought I was ill because I wasn’t my normal talking self but my only problem was the fact that my right knee was a little pain, I was tired from working 19 of the past 24 hours (I have been working 2 jobs for the past 2 ½ year) and that I was contemplating if it was a wise idea to do Tinkham. Silver Peak itself was in good shape and the snow and ice on it was not bad at all. We were quickly on the open and stunning summit of Silver Peak. It was there that I told my hiking friends that I had no interest in doing Tinkham Peak due to the fact I had already been there two month ago, my right knee was slightly aching and most of all I was very concerned about that gully being hazardous due to the fact that it was wet and icy. Honestly if I had not been there two months ago I would have easily gone for it but I really had no interest in Tinkham this time.
Redwic and Gimpilator or more than understanding about my feelings here, so they headed quickly on down Silver Peak to Tinkham while I decided to enjoy the off and on views from Silver Peak. They both are very competent hikers and scramblers and I knew they would be ok and would have no problems turning around. As for me I sat on the summit of Silver Peak and got to enjoy the off and on views that came from this summit. There was no view of Rainier like last time but the off and on views of neighboring peaks still made this peak well worthwhile to spend a couple extra minutes here. Another group of four came up to the summit to enjoy the views a couple of minutes after Redwic and Gimpilator left.
After spending about thirty minutes on top of Silver Peak I decided to head back down to junction of Tinkham Peak cutoff where I waited for Gimpilator and Redwic. Thirty minutes later they came back down along with fellow Nwhiker.net Touring and his dog. Gimpilator came up on the to summit block but quickly noticed it was covered in a solid sheet of ice and was very dangerous to attain the summit while Redwic stopped before the 3rd class gully crossing noting the fact that it looked quite hazardous with the crossing being quite wet and icy. They both made the smart move and turned around there and I made a smart move to not head back up that peak and give my knee a little rest.
After I met them from the junction we all headed down the to the PTC, where I noticed that a number of streams were producing some great waterfalls. It actually made this section of the PTC much prettier than other times I had been here. The recent rains really now have the stream flowing much more than they did in August. After taking a couple shots we were quickly back to the car. We socialized a little with Touring at the trailhead and then headed on back. It was great to meet a fellow NwHiker on the trailhead.
Overall it was another great weekend trip with my good friends. We got to share some good stories and bag some cool peaks. Hopefully we can combine for many more trip and us three do not have to wait that long again. Now what is in store for next week???