Mount Daniel in Two Days

Page Type
Trip Report
Location:
Washington, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Sep 12, 2015
Activities:
Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling
Season:
Summer
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Mount Daniel in Two Days
Created On: Oct 1, 2015
Last Edited On: Oct 1, 2015
Table of Contents

PLANNING

Cathedral Rock from the Road
Cathedral Rock from the Road
I don’t get the opportunity for overnight trips much anymore, but I wanted to make sure I got one good trip in this year.  I had planned on doing Mount Constance on the Olympic Peninsula around Labor Day, but poor weather forced me to cancel those plans.  I decided to go the following weekend but for some reason Constance was seeming less appealing for no reason in particular, just a feeling.  I was being drawn to another destination on my list…  Mt. Daniel in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness!  I’ve found that when it comes to the mountains it’s best to listen to your gut instinct, whether it’s turning around due to weather or poor conditions or deciding which line to take when route finding, I’ve never been let down by listening to my gut.  This time as no exception!

Mount Daniel is roughly 15 miles and 5000 ft elevation gain round trip via the SE ridge so it can be done in one day.  One long day, you know the kind where the last couple hours your feet are sore and your legs are tired and you wish you were back at the car already.  In my research for the trip a lot of people who did this one in a day said if they had to do it over again they would do it in two days.  This was good incentive for me to make this one an over nighter.  On those long one day trips I’m usually go, go, go light and fast sometimes pushing myself to get up or down the trail as fast as I can comfortably go.  Doing this in two days my plan was to take it slow and luxuriate in nature along the way, certainly a change of pace for me. 

DAY ONE

I had accumulated a bunch of new gear over the last few years for backpacking, but had not really had the opportunity to use it so I was excited to pack my new pack and see how much it weighed.  After getting it fully packed, including 2L of water, it weighed in at 27 pounds!  I was thrilled!  I don’t think I’ve ever had an overnight pack less than 40 pounds so I was pretty excited about this.  I set my alarm for 4:00, got up, hit the road, and made it to the trailhead around 8:00.  I pulled into the last available parking space at the Cathedral Pass Trailhead, threw on my pack and hit the trail.  My pack felt great!  I’ve never been so comfortable backpacking, it didn’t feel much different than a day pack.  I made my way up the well graded switchbacks taking my time and going a bit slower than my usual pace.  As I neared the ridge and Squaw Lake I heard some noise behind me.  An animal?  Deer perhaps?  I turned around and saw… a coupe hikers!  I honestly can’t remember ever being passed on a trail with the exception of hiking with the family or an occasional trail runner.  This was an unusual occurrence for me, but I moved to the side so they could pass without breaking stride.  It was a guy and a girl, the girl said hi and thanks while the guy was silent.  I would see them again later in the day.

Fall Colors Along the Trail
Fall Colors Along the Trail

Fall Colors and Dehydrated Tarn
Fall Colors and Dehydrated Tarn


Cathedral Rock
Cathedral Rock

Squaw Lake was a nice little spot.  I took a couple pictures and continued up the trail.  This was where things started to get good.  Fall colors were out and the morning sun was illuminating the foliage in a warm light.  I continued up the trail where the first views of Cathedral Rock greeted me.  Man, what a pretty chunk of rock!  In the early morning light the rock looked silver with streaks of lime green.  Combine that with the fall colors, cool weather, and a comfy pack and it was about as good as it gets on the trail in!  Shortly later I was passed by another solo hiker but it felt good to just meander up the trail rather than charge hard.  I reached the PCT and shortly later the trail to Peggy’s Pond.  After navigating the somewhat cliffy sections of the trail I reached the small basin below Peggy’s Pond where the solo hiker who had passed me was filling up his water and chatting with another solo hiker.  The trail split and I took the wrong path so I bushwhacked a little to get to the right one before reaching Peggy’s Pond.  It was nice.  There were no campers at all which surprised me a little given that this is supposed to be a popular spot.  There were a couple guys having breakfast by the lake, but I cruised by passing several open camp sites in search of
something a little more secluded.   I had heard about a camp spot on the ridge above Peggy’s Pond so I hiked up there to look around but I wasn’t satisfied with the views so I descended into the basin to Hyas Creek.  There were a few lovely camp sites here, and I almost took one, but instead I hiked up the creek and around a bend to where Hyas Creek runs north to south and found a large flat rocky area a short distance from the creek that had views of Mount Daniel and Cathedral Rock so I decided to make my camp here.  After setting up camp, having lunch, filling up on water, and relaxing about an hour and a half I was ready for the push to the summit!

First Camp - Cathedral Rock
First Camp - Cathedral Rock

Mount Daniel and Hyas Creek Glacier
Mount Daniel and Hyas Creek Glacier

Being a fair bit north of the traditional SE ridge route, I started my ascent with a scramble up the NE slopes of the SE ridge.  This proved to be quite a bit of fun as the terrain was rocky with some rather large slabs to scramble up.  Further up the ridge here was a lot of talus and scree around the larger more stable rocks just to add some spice to the terrain.  At this point it was getting pretty hot and I took advantage of a few cliffs that were tall enough to cast a shadow to provide some shade to rest in for a bit.  Eventually I reached the ridge proper where I was greeted by stunning views of Circle Lake.  I continued up the ridge admiring the views until I reached the gendarme section.  Here I came across the solo hiker who had passed me on the trail in. He was on his way down and had some helpful advice for passing the scramble section.  It wasn’t too bad, pretty easy scrambling.  Soon Venus and Spade Lakes came into view as well as Bears Breast and the Chief grouping as well as the rock garden of Chimney Rock and Lemah.  It was absolutely beautiful!

Circle Lake and Mount Daniel
Circle Lake and Mount Daniel

Venus and Spade Lakes
Venus and Spade Lakes

When I got to the base of the east summit it was time for the traverse over to the true summit.  There are reports of this section being horrible, terrifying even, but I found these reports to be inaccurate at least for me.  Sure the terrain is steep scree which is not ideal, but if you are sure footed and used to this type of terrain it is a piece of cake although there are a few sections where you must go slow and step carefully.  When you start the route the trail leads to a small rocky cliffy area.  It looks like the trail goes up, which I took on the way up, but there is also a trail at the base of the rock, which I took on the way down.  The low route is the way to go.  Part way across the traverse I ran into the couple who had passed me early in the day.  They confirmed the low route is best, complimented my on my approach shoes (Salewa Wildfire), and we parted ways.  Once across the traverse there is a horrible section of loose talus and scree to scramble up before reaching the final summit block which is a quick scramble.  Success!!!  The summit was amazing and fairly clear.  There was some haze to the NW, but the rest of the views were spectacular.  I signed the register and spent about 30-40 minutes on the summit admiring the views before heading back. 

Mount Daniel West Summit
Mount Daniel West Summit

Mount Daniel East Summit
Mount Daniel East Summit


Lynch Glacier
Lynch Glacier

Mount Daniel East Summit and Enchantments
Mount Daniel East Summit and Enchantments

The route back to below the east summit was unremarkable.  As I started my descent of the SE ridge there were a couple guys starting a descent of the Hyas Creek Glacier and headwall.  As I made my way down the ridge I would glance back to check their progress.  They were moving slow, very slow.  I was half way down the ridge and they were not even to the glacier yet.  They looked like they were having some trouble with the terrain and I worried about them but it looked like they were trying to traverse south to gain the SE ridge.  I hope they made it out without any difficulty. 

Mount Daniel Summit Panorama
Mount Daniel Summit Panorama

Sun was setting as I descended and shadows crept down the valley towards my camp.  I spotted my tent from high on the ridge and noticed a pond right above where I had set up my tent.  I left the trail and scrambled down the NE slopes of the SE ridge through some fun terrain of rocks, boulders, and slabs before I reached the Hyas Creek basin and my camp.  I hiked up a small hill above my camp to check out the pond and found a sloping rock where a stone wind shelter for cooking had been built and a flat spot on a rock slab just big enough for a tent.  Sweet!  This was a much better spot, so I just picked up my tent with all my stuff in it and carried it up the hill and made my camp up there.  The evening was amazing.  I had some pu erh tea, made a mountain house for dinner, and watched the last light of the day creep up and over Cathedral Rock as I relaxed and took photos.  As I lounged around I felt like something was missing and then I realized… there were no bugs!  Not a single one!  This area is renowned for being very buggy.  Nearly every trip report mentions bugs at Peggy’s Pond but I suspect a freeze the previous week had killed them as there was not a one and my bug spray stayed in my pack all trip.  Awesome!  At night Mount Daniel looked like a fat man lying on his back gazing at the stars.  There was quite a bit of wind which kept me awake, but eventually I fell asleep and slept well.  My new 20 degree bag was a tad hot, I’d guess it only got down to the 40s.  

Cathedral Rock and Tarn
Cathedral Rock and Tarn

Cathedral Rock Tarn Reflection
Cathedral Rock Tarn Reflection


Camp in Hyas Creek Basin
Camp in Hyas Creek Basin

DAY TWO

Cathedral Rock Reflection
Cathedral Rock Reflection in the Morning

In the morning I ate some oatmeal before packing up and hitting the trail.  I made my way back past Peggy’s Pond to where the trail reached the PCT.  Here I made a little mistake.  My phone with GPS had died and the computer I tried to print a topo on wouldn’t print for some reason so I said forget it, I’ll just use my phone. Well I won’t be doing that again.  As I was taking the trail down I reached a switchback and thought, that’s funny I don’t remember this but I kept going.  I passed a solo female hiker and a few more switchbacks and after about 30 minutes I decided I had taken a wrong turn somewhere.  I marched back up the switchbacks and caught up with the solo hiker who confirmed that I was on the PCT but going the wrong way.  This little mishap added 2+ miles to my day which I was not happy about but a safe way to learn a valuable lesson.  A couple of left ankle rolls and some sore feet later I reached my car.  It was an amazing trip, one I won’t soon forget!

View from the PCT
View from the PCT







Comments

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MarkDidier

MarkDidier - Oct 1, 2015 7:12 pm - Voted 10/10

Daniel is on...

...my short list the next time I make it back to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. I really enjoyed my 2 days in that area back in 13' and had been considering Daniel that trip on my last day - didn't have the legs though. Thanks for posting. Awesome photos of an awesome area.

awilsondc

awilsondc - Oct 1, 2015 10:41 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Daniel is on...

Thanks Mark! I really enjoyed the area, it's certainly worth a visit if you make it out here again!

Fairley8

Fairley8 - Oct 9, 2015 8:27 am - Voted 10/10

Thanks for sharing!

I was able to go to Mt. Daniel for the first time this last July. We too did an overnight (Pea Soup Lake) and climbed the Daniel Glacier. We had great views just until the very top so it's nice to be able to see your photos and views I wasn't able to get such as looking down at Pea Soup Lake. Really enjoy the fall colors as well.

-Chris

awilsondc

awilsondc - Oct 10, 2015 1:36 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Thanks for sharing!

Thanks Chris! I was super fortunate to have fantastic weather and all day to enjoy it. Two days was certainly the way to go! :)

JoelSkok

JoelSkok - Oct 10, 2015 1:16 pm - Voted 10/10

Nice report and beautiful pics

You mention having some pu erh tea for supper. I am curious about that as I have never heard of it. Perhaps it is an abreviation or something like that. Sounds like a great trip!

awilsondc

awilsondc - Oct 10, 2015 1:43 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Nice report and beautiful pics

Pu erh is a Chinese tea unfamiliar to most westerners. I simply love it! It's like the fine wine of the tea world. Here is an informative link.

http://www.thechineseteashop.com/puerhtea.html

dunespice

dunespice - May 10, 2016 9:03 pm - Hasn't voted

Great report and beautiful pictures

Thanks for writing such a nice report on the hike. Looks like I need to make it up for an overnight this summer! Lucky day with that beautiful weather.

awilsondc

awilsondc - May 10, 2016 10:49 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Great report and beautiful pictures

Thanks! Yeah, the area was even more beautiful than I had expected. It's certainly one to put on the to do list, and great weather always helps! ;)

Viewing: 1-8 of 8


Mount Daniel in Two Days

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