It is yet another great day in the mountains. Fall here in Washington State is now in full effect. After last week’s berry bush and larch fest, it was time to see even more of what make fall in Washington State so spectacular. For me it was yet another time to get back into the mountains see yet another side to the beautiful fall in Washington State. My concentration this week, some of the low-land elevation colors in the Teanaway area.
For this trip I brought another newer figure to the hiking scene; my friend Joel. He has been out on some summer hikes and has gotten up to the smaller summits in the area but nothing too large in Washington State. He has been looking for someone to go hiking with not only in summer but in winter when the weather turns. Luckily for him he ran into me who is a summit addict and loves hiking and climbing all year round.
We headed up to the Teanaway Region in the Cascades to spot some color. With the weather being questionable on the western part of the Cascades this looked like a good pick to check out and see what is going on. On the way there we were blow away from all the good fall shots and we found ourselves stopping many times just to capture all the great pictures. By the time we hit the trailhead we already had about 50 pictures a piece.
We take the Medra Pass trail up to the Jungle Creek cutoff. Parking here is very limited so we had to park on the side of the road and from there take the trail to the cutoff. To be honest I really was not expecting much from this trail in terms of color. But luckily for me I was pleasantly surprised by all strong, colorful bushes in the area which produced a mixture of beautiful fall colors with the yellow being the strongest of the bunch. The trail itself was in excellent condition all the way to the Jungle Creek Trail where the trail remained in good conditions all the way to the ridgeline.
We maintained great pace all the to the ridgeline. It was great to see the western larch really beginning to come out in the region. At one point both the western larch and the berry bushes were both coming out at the same time! The trail also stayed in great shape in the steeper incline and was quiet pleasant all the way to the ridgeline.
Once on the ridgeline we turned to another trail and took it as it traversed to the north of the true summit of Johnson Mountain. Had we gotten off trail here we would have encountered some difficult terrain. Luckily estnyd’s pages showed us the correct route. Once we hit the high point on the trail which looked like the ridgeline we headed up the ridgeline. The good thing is we were now beginning to encounter some open terrain. The bad thing was we were leaving the beautiful fall colors that were now below up.
On the ridge there was a very faint boot path heading up. The footing here was not the best in parts due to all of the scree. Add on a little exposure to boot and my friend was a little nervous going up during one section. The rock did stabilize and soon we were on a better slope. The views really began to open up past this point and the Enchantments as well as Mount Stuart began to come into view. We decided on the ridge all the way to the summit. At one point the ridge did narrow in some areas though it never got to the point of a knife edge. We continued to traverse that ridge all of the way to the true summit.
Once on the summit excellent open views of Mount Stuart, Ingalls Peak, and many of the summits in the Teanaway opened up right before us. The summit of Johnson Peak did have some moderate exposure with the northern part bordered by a cliff and the southern section with 35-40 steep open scree and kitty litter slope. Though Joel was fine here, I moved around on the true summit a little bit with caution. It was though cool to see the larches on the northern side of the mountain as they were changing.
We enjoyed the summit for about fifteen minutes then decided to head down. On the way down we were greeted with a different sun angle which gave way to better pictures. We took it slow on the off trail section at first. With the footing iffy footing in this one section was important. We took it slow and careful and soon we were back on the trail.
Once on the trail we had better footing and the trail back was much easier to travel. Soon we were making good time traveling through the trees and meadows back to the trailhead. Within an hour and about 30 more pictures we were back at the trailhead and on our way back.
I do want to thank Joel for heading out here on this trip to the mountains. I do look forward to many more trips with him in the mountains. It turned out to be an excellent trip and one trip I am glad I had a chance to go on. Expect to see him on a number of future trip reports. As for the fall season it is now excellent. Hopefully I will be able to enjoy it more before winter makes it move into the area.
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