Forum Index > Trip Reports > Big Larches on Big Jim and Big Lou 2018-10-03
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neek
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neek
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PostThu Oct 04, 2018 9:14 am 
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While searching for a nice October hike, I recalled kitya's Chiwaukum report from a month ago, in particular,

kitya wrote:
This area will look spectacular once the larches turn golden in a month or so.

Sold!  I headed for Hatchery Creek with plans for a slightly less ambitious tour that would hit some of the peaks and ridges around Lake Augusta.  Most of Tuesday's snow at Stevens Pass had melted, but it was still a little icy so care was required.  The Hatchery Creek road was as described in kitya's report (medium-clearance would be helpful) aside from a downed tree blocking the last quarter mile.  And the burn does seem to go on forever, with some nice color lower down but starkness higher up where recovery is slower.  A dusting of snow began around 4400 ft and provided nice contrast for the remainder of the trip.  Unfortunately the clouds never lifted, and it felt quite cold in the earlier part of the day, very winter-like.  But the larches were prime!  I was so pleased to have chosen this area, which was completely new to me and highly scenic this time of year.  I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

Recent blowdown blocks the last 1/4 mile of Hatchery Creek Road
Recent blowdown blocks the last 1/4 mile of Hatchery Creek Road
Fall colors grace the lower part of the burn
Fall colors grace the lower part of the burn
Snow and burn create a stark wintery landscape higher up
Snow and burn create a stark wintery landscape higher up
Lake Augusta
Lake Augusta

I thought there was a trail up Big Jim, but no, you just head due north up steep talus to reach the broad tundra-like summit that is characteristic of peaks in this area.

Head straight up the talus, staying to the left of that bump
Head straight up the talus, staying to the left of that bump
Talus was not my friend last week but I'm all for second chances
Talus was not my friend last week but I'm all for second chances
Looking back at Lake Augusta
Looking back at Lake Augusta
Neat little plants on the way up
Neat little plants on the way up
Easy walking to Big Jim's summit
Easy walking to Big Jim's summit
Somewhat gloomy summit view
Somewhat gloomy summit view
Looking south along the ridge I will take to Big Lou, with Rainier in the distance
Looking south along the ridge I will take to Big Lou, with Rainier in the distance

From Jim, I took the direct ridge approach to Lou, and then the necessary walk over to Slide.

Larches along the ridge
Larches along the ridge
Big Lou puts up a fight on the west
Big Lou puts up a fight on the west
But on the east it's no problem
But on the east it's no problem
Looking east to Big Slide from the top of Big Lou.  How can you see this and [i:ceea03c5fa]not[/i:ceea03c5fa] have the urge to walk over there?
Looking east to Big Slide from the top of Big Lou.  How can you see this and not have the urge to walk over there?
View from Big Slide
View from Big Slide
Glacier
Glacier
Rainier
Rainier
Lake Ida
Lake Ida
Enchantments area
Enchantments area
Looking back north to Big Jim
Looking back north to Big Jim
Daniel and Snoqualmie-area peaks
Daniel and Snoqualmie-area peaks

From Big Slide, I didn't want to walk the ridge back over Big Lou, so took a fairly direct route back to the trail below Lake Augusta.  This led me through a spectacular larch-filled basin with half-frozen little streams and tarns.  I took many snaps down here and had trouble weeding them out so please excuse the photo dump.

Descending into basin of awesomeness
Descending into basin of awesomeness
Larches
Larches
Finally, some red!
Finally, some red!
Hate to complain, but blue sky really would have been nice
Hate to complain, but blue sky really would have been nice
Despite the clouds, colors improved slightly as the sun got lower
Despite the clouds, colors improved slightly as the sun got lower
Whale log
Whale log
Stages
Stages
Oh look!  A tiny bit of sunshine up there
Oh look!  A tiny bit of sunshine up there
Back on the trail
Back on the trail
An interesting pinecone
An interesting pinecone

Admittedly, some blue skies would have been nice.  But there's one hard-to-find thing I did get to experience: complete silence.  On the way back to the trail, there were moments when I just sat down and listened to absolute nothingness.  No wind, no water, no insects or birds even.  Most important, no other humans or signs of civilization: complete solitude.  You may not have that this weekend, but it should still be nice--and maybe even sunny.

Strava activity
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Bootpathguy
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PostThu Oct 04, 2018 11:16 am 
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neek wrote:

Fantastic!  up.gif  up.gif  up.gif

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Experience is what'cha get, when you get what'cha don't want
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Bootpathguy
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PostThu Oct 04, 2018 11:17 am 
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Also like that you ended your trip report with this...  hockeygrin.gif



neek wrote:
Admittedly, some blue skies would have been nice.  But there's one hard-to-find thing I did get to experience: complete silence.  On the way back to the trail, there were moments when I just sat down and listened to absolute nothingness.  No wind, no water, no insects or birds even.  Most important, no other humans or signs of civilization: complete solitude.


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Sky Hiker
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PostThu Oct 04, 2018 11:55 am 
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Very nice pictures!! Thanks for sharing. I was down in Painters Cr.on Sat when it was nice and sunny but the larch hadn't reached their full color yet.
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pula58
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PostThu Oct 04, 2018 1:12 pm 
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Nice pictures, thanks for sharing.
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Brushbuffalo
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Brushbuffalo
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PostThu Oct 04, 2018 6:38 pm 
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Sublime!
Love the whale tree!

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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Brushwork
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Brushwork
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PostFri Oct 05, 2018 5:24 pm 
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Beautiful pictures!  I'd hoped to get there this fall, but seeing someone else's report is a decent second.   Nice you got some real quiet.

I think the alpine plant is a kind of Draba species.

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cartman
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cartman
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PostFri Oct 05, 2018 8:35 pm 
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That area is more larchy than I knew.  Nice shots of the colors.
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Damian
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Damian
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PostFri Oct 05, 2018 9:04 pm 
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I recall the ridge above Augusta scattered with miniature versions of Lupine, Paintbrush, and others.  Never seen that anywhere else.  Great report  up.gif .

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Be kind to others, for everyone carries a heavy burden.   -Rev Dale Turner
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Downhill
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PostWed Oct 10, 2018 7:56 pm 
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Really beautiful photos - thank you for sharing.  I share the sentiment with BootPathGuy, your comment about sitting and listening to the silence is where it's at for me.  Sounds like a perfect trip, even without the "perfect blue skies".  I think sometimes the muted lighting and colors of an overcast day can provide interesting, beautiful and compelling scenes just as well.

With a good forecast, for this time of year, coming up over the next several days has me itching to get back up high.  Big Lou, Slide, Jim are attractive candidates, but having been there earlier this summer, I think I'll go somewhat south of there for my larch hunt.

Thanks for your TR and pics!
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HermitThrush
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PostThu Oct 11, 2018 3:38 am 
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The larches in Wisconsin don't look like that, waaah. Thanks for sharing.
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