Note: this trip report is very similiar to the one I wrote on NWhikers, however I added some more detail and fixed it up to be more useful to SP users.
Mt. Spokane- Kit Carson Loop
9 mile roundtrip
2500 feet elevation gain??
Note: Snow will not melt off this trail completely until early July
During the mid summer this is a simple hike between the two summits. But due to the high snowfall many of the trails have not melted out making for some interesting situations. The trip itself turned out to be a little more interesting than I expected it to be. But still this mountain was very fun and well worthwhile. For those of you waiting for the trails to be snow free, that will not happen until early July. This is very unusual because these trails usually clear out by late May on a normal year. But this is hardly a normal year and this was hardly a normal trip!!
This trip started out very wrong in the beginning. I got to the trailhead late (11:00 am) and I dropped by the ranger station to give my itinerary and to find out the conditions of the trail only to find out he was not there. Talking to him would nave given me an idea what to expect and it would have told me if there was good potential for me to glissade on the ski slope. When I finally hit the trail walked in I realized that much of the trail (Trail 110) was still covered in snow. Luckily I brought all of my winter gear including the ice axe and the crampons. It was overkill and really didn‘t need either but the worst thing that could happen was that I‘d end up getting more exercise.
Then came the ultimate wake up call. As I was walking I notice something drinking from the stream right in front of me. Hum, it was black large a little round and furry. Oh @$%& it is a bear. It might be cute to look at but the last thing I am interested in is being mauled by one. In concern of my safety I did a fake sneeze to tell the bear where I was but not to scare it too much. Thank God it worked!! The bear noticed me but decided to head up the hill and not harm me. By the time though I got my camera out he was gone. I could have taken a nice picture in the beginning but I don't want to go on the Darwin Awards for being dumb.
The bad part about the bear is that he ran straight up the hill ON THE TRAIL!! Realizing this I decided that I had to change my route. So what I did (which might cause nomination for the Darwin Award on some mountains) is I checked my topo and realized that if I bushwhacked up the mountain away from the bear than I would run into a nice trail that would then eventually guide me to Beauty Mountain (not a true summit but a pretty extension of Mt. Spokane) and the trailhead to Kit Carson. Though I had to go over some logs and took a pretty healthy elevation gain in the process (luckily only partially covered in snow) I finally reached that trail.
Once on trail though the trip went a lot better. I took the trail to Beauty Mountain where I picked up a jeep path to the Kit Carson trail. I went up the moderate paced Kit Carson trail to the summit rocks of Kit Carson and enjoyed my lunch. The trail itself during summer is actually a very easy walk up to the two summit rocks. Good views can seen from this mountain looking toward the southwest. That view made up for the rather scary beginning to the trip.
Now on to Mount Spokane. I start on the Trail 135 to Mt. Spokane but quickly realize that do to the packed snow-cover there would be a MUCH EASIER WAY. So I took a jeep path to the closed summit road (it will be until next weekend) I noticed what looked to be a some path up the grassy fields up Mt. Spokane. I took this dirt path over two auto road switchbacks and then took the to the Tip Top House. Good views can be seen from here and I enjoyed all of them. I ate another bag of peanuts and then cross over to the antennas to see a another good view towards Kit Carson (foreground) and Mount Sherman??? and other peaks to the northwest. Unfortunately I found out later that I was take film and not picture so I decided to attach the film I took of the summit here.
Mt. Spokane is eastern Washington’s version of New Hampshire's Mt. Washington with radio towers, an auto road, a summit visitors area (Tip Top House) and when I was there some pretty powerful wind gusts that must of had wind chills in 40's and 30's. Hard to believe it was 75 in the city of Spokane when I was on the summit.
I was look for a good glissade but there was very little snow on the ski area and the little possibilities there were very steep and short. I could have tried one of those very short glissade but the though of walking the rest of the way down a ski trail made my knees hurt. So I decided to just walk down the closed auto road back to the car. It was very long but it got me back to my car (and around the area with the bear). I did see a pretty deer along the way though. Some of the views from the auto road were very beautiful. I made it back to the car by 4:00 pm. and headed back to my hotel.
Though I am bummed about no glissade I had a blast. And now I can say to my friends that scared off a bear (kind of).