It has not been the greatest summer for me this year so I was trying to find a mountain that would perfectly fit the kind of summer that I have had. The weather in Washington State was the hottest it ever was, and by August much of the state was on fire. My work schedule went all over the place and as a result another year seems to go on by the wayside when it comes to hiking. But with a couple of storms comes an opportunity to at least snag this peak to start off this September.
Redwic's description of the Hard Knox scramble from the southeast was very accurate here. We made fairly quick work of the Class 2 scramble/off trail to the summit. The last little bit was mostly a off-field walkup with some hand scrambling toward the very top. There is no exposure if you stay on route until you reach the summit and it is very doable for even the most novice of scramblers.
When we arrived though we were greeted by a storm though that was quickly coming in onto the summit of Hard Knox. We did have some good views from the summit but things were starting to darken up. Slowly but surely we could see the storm quickly marching at us as it crossed over Lake Kachess. My first thought by the dark threatening clouds was the risk for lightning and thunder. We stayed on the summit for only a minute of two more and took some pictures than quickly ran down the mountain back to the gap where we intersected the trail. Surprisingly we made it down off the summit area before any major precipitation arrived.
We decided to wait out the storm down below in the gap between Hard Knox and another highpoint called Hard Cheese. It did rain a little and mix with snow at times but luckily this storm like the showers earlier in the day had more bark than bite. We talked a bit about doing more in the region but with the iffy weather we stopped where we were at and decided to head back.
My fear was that it was going to be storming rather hard and we were going to hit that somewhat iffy section of trail during the wettest or snowiest part of the storm. Luckily it did not rain much and our trip back was very uneventful even in that small iffy section. Once we got on top of "Easy Knox" we sat down again to enjoy the good views that it had. It was at this time I noticed that a lot of the fall red colors really came out. Along with the beautiful fall colors came the back the warm sunshine. It felt like I was going through three seasons on this trip and the weather itself reminded more of November than early September. Through the clouds we did manage more shots of Mount Stuart to the east and of the dry semi-arid region of Washington of to the east. The rest of the trip down was very uneventful and we made it back to car in good time.
It was nice to get an early fall preview and cool of after such a rough summer. From what I saw on this mountain it is going to be a very colorful fall. I was glad to take a risk on the weather and luckily the weather held out enough for us to have a great day in the mountains. I am looking forward to a having a much better fall than what I had this summer.