Forum Index > Trip Reports > Surprise Mtn 6330 (USGS Scenic) 3/16/2019
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 29 Jan 2007
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Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostMon Mar 18, 2019 11:14 pm 
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Date: March 16, 2019
Destination:  Surprise Mtn via Surprise Lake Trail and Surprise Gap
People: Matt, Stefan, Kirsten, Carla, Suzanne, Barry, r3h, Greg, Max
Dogs: Cooper

We hiked up the Surprise Lake trail, across Surprise and Glacier Lakes, up to Surprise Gap, and then up the ridge to Surprise Mountain.

View from Surprise Gap
View from Surprise Gap
View from Surprise Mtn
View from Surprise Mtn
GPS Track
GPS Track

To our surprise, no one had recently packed down the track.  At the trailhead, there was about a foot of fresh snow on top of old tracks.  Brett led the way booting up for the first couple miles, then we switched to snowshoes for the rest of the trip.  Up to Surprise Lake, we could see a faint indentation in the snow from previous travelers.  After that we were on our own.

Group at the Scenic parking area
Group at the Scenic parking area
Walking across Surprise Lake
Walking across Surprise Lake
Walking across Surprise Lake
Walking across Surprise Lake

Suzanne (aka Sadie's Driver) left a memorial of several dog cookies at the head of Surprise Lake, where the ashes of Sadie and Gus had been scattered.  Suzanne, Barry, Carla, and Cooper stayed behind at the head of Glacier Lake, because they were returning earlier for the day.

Walking across Glacier Lake
Walking across Glacier Lake
They who remained behind at Glacier Lake
They who remained behind at Glacier Lake

Below Surprise Gap, there were snowball tracks everywhere, released by previous warming of trees and rocks, but nothing was moving while we were there.  We deliberately did this trip on the day that had a high overcast keeping the snow cooler.  Subsequent hotter weather has probably released more slides.

Heading toward Surprise Gap
Heading toward Surprise Gap
Closer shot
Closer shot
Human and snowball tracks
Human and snowball tracks
Snowball track art
Snowball track art
Looking back down Surprise Gap to Glacier Lake, and out to Glacier Peak.
Looking back down Surprise Gap to Glacier Lake, and out to Glacier Peak.

Snow was pretty good under the trees up to the summit.  Big cliffs and cornices on the north side of the ridge, but the summit itself was actually a curving arete, so we could look over the edge.  The firefinder post from the old lookout was sticking out of the snow about one foot.

It was a welcome change to be able to sit warm and comfortable on a summit.  Stefan brought very warm beer to accompany the warm weather.

Summit group, with Max sitting on the post from the former lookout
Summit group, with Max sitting on the post from the former lookout
I don't understand why I can't walk straight in these snowshoes
I don't understand why I can't walk straight in these snowshoes
Looking down off the summit to our tracks on Glacier & Surprise Lakes
Looking down off the summit to our tracks on Glacier & Surprise Lakes
Looking past the cliffs to Slippery Slab Tower, Nimbus, & Thor
Looking past the cliffs to Slippery Slab Tower, Nimbus, & Thor

Skies were still somewhat clear north of us, but increasing haze turned the local peaks to more monochrome.

Monte Cristo group, Sloan, & Pugh
Monte Cristo group, Sloan, & Pugh
Glacier Peak
Glacier Peak
Solar halo over Mt. Daniel
Solar halo over Mt. Daniel
Daniel
Daniel
Hinman & Terrace, with Marmot & Clarice Lakes
Hinman & Terrace, with Marmot & Clarice Lakes
Stuart behind the shoulder of Swallowtail behind the shoulder of Mac
Stuart behind the shoulder of Swallowtail behind the shoulder of Mac

The descent went easily.  The snow was getting a big soft and loose on the ridge, but was still cool and powdery for big cushioned steps down the gap.

Descending Surprise Gap
Descending Surprise Gap
Tracks through the snow mushrooms above Glacier Lake
Tracks through the snow mushrooms above Glacier Lake

Stats: 14.6 miles, 4410 gain, 10 hours

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As beacons mountains burned at evening. J.R.R. Tolkien
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RichP
here and there



Joined: 13 Jul 2006
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Location: Moscow, Id.
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here and there
PostTue Mar 19, 2019 7:40 am 
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Looks like a spectacular day in the mountains. Your trench should be around for quite some time should anyone else wander up there.
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Dr. T
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PostTue Mar 19, 2019 10:07 am 
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Hows that area avalanche wise?  Ive been up to surprise lake during the winter a couple years back.  I think I remember only one open slope as you follow the creek up before you turn left and start climbing.  Is that accurate?  Thinking of doing this tomorrow.
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iron
getting old



Joined: 10 Aug 2008
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getting old
PostTue Mar 19, 2019 10:33 am 
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Matt wrote:
Brett led the way booting up for the first couple miles

contact your editor. clearly a typo or misremembering.

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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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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 29 Jan 2007
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Matt
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Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostTue Mar 19, 2019 1:08 pm 
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That slope at the turn uphill could have avalanche potential, and there are a couple other areas farther on that could slide, so you'd have to assess those as you go.

Then of course Surprise Gap itself is a giant avalanche bowl, so I wouldn't go past the lakes until temps cool down.

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As beacons mountains burned at evening. J.R.R. Tolkien
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Dr. T
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PostTue Mar 19, 2019 1:46 pm 
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wouldnt think of going past the lakes...still up in the air, but i do enjoy that area for a winter hike.
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Stefan
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PostTue Mar 19, 2019 2:09 pm 
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Art is an adventure.
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raising3hikers
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PostTue Mar 19, 2019 4:40 pm 
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fun day, especially seeing some faces I haven't seen in a while up.gif   thanks for another great day in the mountains

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Eric Eames
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Nancyann
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PostWed Mar 20, 2019 6:15 pm 
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Nice collection of NWHikers! up.gif
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 4199 | TRs
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Matt
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Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostWed Mar 20, 2019 9:21 pm 
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Eric Willhite, Thanks for the comparison photo.  What type of lookout was located there?

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As beacons mountains burned at evening. J.R.R. Tolkien
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Mike Collins
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PostThu Mar 21, 2019 8:12 am 
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Matt wrote:
Descending Spider Gap
Descending Spider Gap

You did mean to say Surprise Gap didn't you? I have always thought that the gap was the initial "surprise" and both the lake and mountain followed later. When hiking up it looks like the valley will be all cliffs but then the gap appears. It is a rainy day activity to look at old maps to see what was entered for initial naming.
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 4199 | TRs
Location: Shoreline
Matt
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Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostThu Mar 21, 2019 8:28 am 
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Yes, Mike, I meant "Surprise Gap."  I edited the original text to fix it.

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As beacons mountains burned at evening. J.R.R. Tolkien
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Dr. T
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PostThu Mar 21, 2019 8:52 am 
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Went out there yesterday.  I hiked up to surprise lake and across it, stopped at the end for some snacks and a rest.  Snowshoes are definitely a must unless you enjoy digging your hip out of the snow every so often especially on the climb up to Surprise lake.  There were a few short open slopes along the way that all had avalanche debris, mostly mild.  That's a beautiful hike though, a little bit of everything, especially seeing the photos up on surprise mountain.  Another benefit being easy access to the trailhead for year round opportunities.  Would consider doing this a couple of months from now and bringing a tent for a 2 or 3 day excursion, perhaps loop back around to deception falls.  Not sure how many road miles that is back to the scenic parking lot.
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Surprise Mtn 6330 (USGS Scenic) 3/16/2019
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