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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 30 Jan 2007
Posts: 4178 | TRs
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Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostFri Mar 01, 2019 1:06 am 
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Dates:  January 27-28, 2019
Destination:  The Haystack as far as Point 6343 (USGS Diablo Dam)
Party:  Matt, Carla

Short Version:
We got two of the three conditions needed for this trip.  We had clear weather for views and low avalanche danger for safety, but we didn't quite get the firm snow we needed to make it all the way to the summit.  Even so, our camp below Point 6343 provided beautiful views of sunrise over the North Cascades.

So where is The Haystack?
This is not the Haystack on Mt. Si, nor the Haystack Mtn near Slate Pass or Sedro Wooley or Gold Bar.
This is the Haystack named for its proximity to The Needle. 
That's the Needle just west of Snowfield Peak, not the one near Dark Peak or The Needles near Washington Pass.
Anyway this Haystack is Point 7139 on the Diablo Dam quad, standing 6000 feet above Newhalem Creek, with fine views south to Eldorado, west to the Devils peaks, north to the Pickets, and immediately east to the Snowfield group.

Haystack Attempt GPS Track
Haystack Attempt GPS Track
Sunrise view from our camp, the North Cascades from Baker to Luna
Sunrise view from our camp, the North Cascades from Baker to Luna

Sunday

Newhalem Gate to 5860 Camp

The road was gated 1.2 miles before the trailhead, presumably still because it passes through the dead forest from the 2015 fire.  We parked there and hiked the road, despite my temptation to just unbolt the cheap hinges on the gate and drive through. 

The Newhalem Creek trail itself is an old logging road converted to trail and no longer maintained.  It had the typical variety of Cascades road-trail challenges that were all passable but took some extra time.  Right at the trailhead was a brief bit of thicker brush.  Then it was mossy road with occasional large old logs to climb over.  One stretch had trail carved a bit higher on the bank where the river had washed out the road, followed by a short avalanche zone of jack-strawed trees.  Then the last mile to the bridge flattened out to be almost-brush-free road for easy travel.

A tenth miles after the main fork bridge, we left the road and headed east.  We crossed the east fork on slippery rocks at 1480 feet, using snowshoes for traction on the way in and crampons on the way out.  (r3h & iron reported crossing on a log circa 1600 feet.)

Closed gate and burned forest on Newhalem Creek Road
Closed gate and burned forest on Newhalem Creek Road
Trail curving above a washed-out section
Trail curving above a washed-out section
Nasty blowdown section
Nasty blowdown section
We aren't the only creatures hiking this trail!
We aren't the only creatures hiking this trail!
Crossing East Fork Newhalem Creek with crampons for the slippery rocks
Crossing East Fork Newhalem Creek with crampons for the slippery rocks

Then it was just uphill for the next 4700 feet.  The terrain was very North-Cascades-y, with a variety of vegetation, some rock bands, and ongoing steepness to help us earn our way upward.

1500-2400 feet was very old clearcut with minor salal and fern brush underfoot.

2400-2800 feet was old growth forest with huge cedars and firs.  However those 100-foot-tall 6-foot-wide trunks also make huge obstacles when they've fallen down sideways on the slope.

2800-3000 feet has some steep rock bands hiding in the forest, which we zigzagged around and hiked up through a stream gully.  We used crampons from here onward just to get enough traction on the steep duff or hard snow.

3000-5500 feet was just hiking uphill, sometimes steeply, on packed snow under open subalpine forest.  We just had to keep veering a bit left to make sure we came out north of the cliffy west ridge that comes off Point 6343.

5500-6200 feet was an increasingly open snow basin with widening views, but very slow progress upward.  Up here there was a lot more snow.  It was stable, but it was cold shaded snow that took a lot more work for kicking steps upward.

Crossing over a log at the top of the old clearcut.
Crossing over a log at the top of the old clearcut.
Crossing under a big log.
Crossing under a big log.
Open forest uphill for thousands of feet.
Open forest uphill for thousands of feet.
Coming out into the upper basin
Coming out into the upper basin

We continued, but the sun was plunging downward faster than we were ascending upward.  At about 6200 feet, our snowshoes were slipping, and we decided to descend back to a flatter area in the basin and make camp.  We booted back down and dug in our tent behind some trees around 5860 feet.  (Actually, the boots dug in firmly.  If we'd thought of it, we could have probably booted upward to Point 6343, but I guess our minds and bodies were both rather worn out at that point.

Sunset drilling a hole through The Trapezoid
Sunset drilling a hole through The Trapezoid
A bit of alpenglow on the Pickets
A bit of alpenglow on the Pickets
Still continuing upward after the sun set
Still continuing upward after the sun set

Stats:  7.4 miles, 5540 gain, 360 loss, 9:15 hours

Evening at Camp

I felt colder than usual during the evening.  At least the open tent vestibule let me sit halfway inside the tent while our reactor stove produced lots of hot soup, hot tea, hot dinner, and hot water bottles.  My toes were cold, so I changed my right foot to dry socks and down booties, but my leg started to cramp while changing boots, so for the next half hour I sat there with one foot dry and warm while the other foot stayed cold and icy in its boot.   I guess the hike upward had worn me out too much. 

Once I crawled into my sleeping bag, though, I slept soundly through the night.  We both agreed that the X-Therm sleeping pads are almost magically effective for sleeping on snow.  For a single pad that weighs only 15oz, the X-Therm completely insulates from the cold snow underneath.

Fortunately, the air was dead calm all evening.  Until it wasn't.  After we were in bed, the wind kicked up, and blew powdery snow right in through the foot wells at the tent sides.  So I quickly ran outside and shoveled snow blocks around the edges of the tent, neatly burying my pack, the stove, and anything else that was outside the door.  A few more times, the wind howled overhead and gusted around the tent, and then it was calm again for the rest of the night.  Anyway, the snow was so cold and powdery that it easily brushed off of everything in the morning.

Looking down the basin after sunset
Looking down the basin after sunset
Camp after digging things out the next morning.
Camp after digging things out the next morning.

Monday

Sunrise at Camp

The morning came up pretty, and we could watch the sun light up the northern peaks right from our campsite.  Temperature was 25 degrees, but calm, so not too bad for watching the sunrise while sipping more hot tea.

First the clouds above glowed pink.

Morning glow above The Picket Range
Morning glow above The Picket Range
Pink sky above the range from Diobsud to Baker to Triumph & Despair
Pink sky above the range from Diobsud to Baker to Triumph & Despair
Big Devil & Trapezoid
Big Devil & Trapezoid

Then alpenglow descended from the highest summits.

First light touches Baker, 7:33am
First light touches Baker, 7:33am
Light descending on Baker & Shuksan, 7:36am
Light descending on Baker & Shuksan, 7:36am
Light reaches The Pickets, 7:39am
Light reaches The Pickets, 7:39am
Luna & Redoubt
Luna & Redoubt

A single band of bright light marked out the northern crest between shadows above and below, gradually shifting its focus from east to farther west.

Light on the Pickets
Light on the Pickets
Thornton, Triumph & Despair
Thornton, Triumph & Despair
Diobsud, Logger, Electric, and Bacon
Diobsud, Logger, Electric, and Bacon

Point 6343

Then the sun hid behind clouds for the next few hours, leaving us shaded cold ascent up to Point 6343.  We booted up to the top easily, though the cornices and cliffs kept us back from the edges of the point.

Booting back up to Point 6343, with the skies unfortunately cold and cloudy.
Booting back up to Point 6343, with the skies unfortunately cold and cloudy.
Me on Point 6343, with the Newhalem Burn our approach valley and the Newhalem Burn visible below.
Me on Point 6343, with the Newhalem Burn our approach valley and the Newhalem Burn visible below.
some overlapping cornices near the summit
some overlapping cornices near the summit

Point 6343 itself is a grand viewpoint, though the cloudy light didn't let the peaks stand out as well-defined as I had hoped.

East of us lay Haystack's summit, plus the steep eastern points of the Snowfield group.  The rest of the route to Haystack's summit looked like it would run okay, ascending the snowfield right of the ridge crest, but we'd have needed to start earlier today and have more energy for the soft snow, so we didn't attempt it today.

Haystack true summit (rounded point on left) plus Needle & Horseman peaks
Haystack true summit (rounded point on left) plus Needle & Horseman peaks
Pinnacle and Paul Bunyan's stump
Pinnacle and Paul Bunyan's stump

South stood the Eldorado group of peaks, and west stood the Devils group.

Edorado and Backbone Ridge
Edorado and Backbone Ridge
Devils Peaks (Little, Middle, Big, and Last Devils)
Devils Peaks (Little, Middle, Big, and Last Devils)

Point 6343 round trip: 0.4 miles, 470 gain & loss, 1:15 hours.

Hiking Out

While we descended, the clouds cleared off into another beautiful clear day, but we were back in the forest by then.  That's okay, though, because it gives me motivation to try this trip again with longer days and firmer snow sometime in spring.

Exit: 6.8 miles, 80 gain, 5260 loss, 7:30 hours
Total Trip: 14.6 miles, 6090 gain.


Footnote:  Connecting Traverses in the North Cascades

That view from Point 6343 fascinated me, because it showed two overlapping traverses I had done.
Eldorado-Backbone Traverse:  Sibley Pass – Triad High Route – Eldorado - Backbone Ridge – Bat & Radar peaks – Monogram Lake Trail.
All The Devils Traverse:  Monogram Lake Trail – Little Devil – Baksit (Middle Devil) – Big Devil – Trapezoid (Last Devil) – Maurine peaks – Newhalem Creek.

View of Backbone and Devils traverses
View of Backbone and Devils traverses
GPS track of Backbone and Devils traverses
GPS track of Backbone and Devils traverses

And those in turn connect to multiple other high routes in every direction. 
Northward from Newhalem Creek, a short walk across SR20 leads to Goodell Creek, the Picket Range, and the Whatcom-Redoubt High Route to Canada. 
Northeast from the Inspiration Glacier runs the Icecap Traverse.
Southeast from the Inspiration Glacier, a traverse of Torment & Boston Basins leads to the Ptarmigan Traverse and on southward toward Glacier Peak.
The North Cascades really are just a giant wonderland of great high routes.

--------------
“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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raising3hikers
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PostFri Mar 01, 2019 9:34 am 
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Nice effort and great pics!  With the soon to be longer days, you guys will get it.

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Eric Eames
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Nancyann
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PostFri Mar 01, 2019 10:19 am 
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Magnificent photos! Thanks for the detailed and informative trip report and I especially appreciate the labels and your footnote regarding connecting the traverses.
In regards to your leg cramping, I always bring magnesium powder which dissolves quickly in water and works very well for leg cramps. Hiking Partner uses it quite often and it works surprisingly quickly. Natural Calm is the brand I use and you can get it at Fred Meyers.
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iron
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getting old
PostFri Mar 01, 2019 11:56 am 
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'tis a fine spot. thanks for the sunrise!

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man, you go through life, you try to be nice to people, you struggle to resist the urge to punch 'em in the face, and for what?

--- moe sizlack
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OutOfOffice
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PostFri Mar 01, 2019 12:00 pm 
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Thanks for the great report!  up.gif
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Haystack Attempt to Point 6343 (USGS Diablo Dam) 1/27-28/2019
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