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williswall
seeking tailwind



Joined: 30 Sep 2007
Posts: 1659 | TRs
Location: Bellevue, WA
williswall
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seeking tailwind
PostMon Nov 04, 2019 12:33 am 
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I wanted to take advantage of the last days for MRNP West Side road, which closes on the 4th....meaning it's gated at the road start, vehicles can no longer drive the 3 miles up the road for access. On Saturday I drove to the park for a semi early start @7:30 AM, as it was just getting light. I biked up the road over Round Pass and parked my steed at St. Andrews Creek trail head. I wasn't sure what I would find for conditions, and in my truck I had snowshoes, poles, a whippet, heavier shoes and an ice axe. I chose to depart with my studded Inov8 trail runners and the whippet, as I didn't expect much steep snow on Aurora Peak (6064'). The weather was superb but just chilly enough for me to wear a Polartech Alpha jacket most of the time. Snow started above 5100' but I was able to stay on top, crunching my way up to Klapatche Park. Aurora Lake was full and frozen, enough for me to walk on. I snapped pix from the usual vantage point, ate a quick snack and then set off for St. Andrews Lake. Although there was no boot track, the fairly meager snow depth allowed me to stay on trail. Upon arriving at St. Andrews Lake, it too was frozen and made for a nice addition to my collection of shots taken over the years. I scoped out Andrew from here but thought I might be pressed for time since I had to go back and tag Aurora. Aurora presented no problems and allowed for a quick ascent and descent, with eye popping views from the summit. I was back at my truck by 3:45 (helped tremendously by the bike) and in retrospect thought I could have tagged Andrew from that direction. But oh well, I drove up to Longmire, had an absolutely mediocre meal at the Inn and bedded down in my truck for 10 hours after watching a few episodes of Mad Men.
Stats: 27 miles (16 biking)/5700'

Aurora Peak right frame (6064':)
Aurora Peak right frame (6064')
Aurora Lake2
Aurora Lake2
Aurora Peak summit view
Aurora Peak summit view
Island
Island
Klapatche Park
Klapatche Park
My prints
My prints
Puyallup Formations
Puyallup Formations
Wonderland Sign snow
Wonderland Sign snow
View across St Andrews Lake
View across St Andrews Lake
Vew from the Marine Memorial
Vew from the Marine Memorial
Trail to St Andrews Lake
Trail to St Andrews Lake
Trail sign near St Andrews Lake
Trail sign near St Andrews Lake
St Andrews Lake frozen
St Andrews Lake frozen

Day 2: Andrew. I woke up at 7, which was actually 6, so didn't stick around for the restaurant to open. Luckily I had stashed a muffin from the day before, which I ate before heading back up the West Side road. It wasn't until I lifted my bike off the rack that I realized the front tire was completely flat. Wouldn't you know it, for this trip I left a basic repair kit and spare tube at home. No choice but to walk the road, so I headed to Round Pass, 4 miles up the road. From there I took the Round Pass trail to the South Puyallup River camp where I joined up with the Wonderland and headed towards St. Andrews Park, this time from the opposite direction. I actually passed someone on this trail, the only person I would see outside of the parking area for two days. The snow this day was a bit softer and I put on a pair of Rocky Socks...I never bother with gaiters. These kept my feet dry enough from the snow that continually made its way over the top of my shoes. I left the "trail" and headed in the general direction towards Andrew (6716', not visible yet) finding a few bare patches along the way. Once I achieved a saddle I stuck to the ridge for the most part and skirted Andrew on the south side, spying a few goats ahead of me. I took the most direct line up over snow and boulders and literally popped up on the relatively flat and expansive summit. It was a bit later for these short days than I would have liked but I lingered and lounged about, shooting pix in all directions. From this vantage point I could see St. Andrews Lake below and Aurora Lake beyond that, a very lofty perch. Also visible to the south, Adams, St Helens and Hood. The air and moisture coming in made for incredible layered vistas to the south. Just huge views towards the mountain, with Sunset Amphitheater and the Tahoma Glacier in my face whilst looking down on Emerald Ridge. Well worth the effort for this soon to be retiree. On the retreat I took a much gentler arc off the summit to avoid the steep I had come up. As can be expected, some major post holes on the retreat going over the boulder field, but once on the south side of Andrews it was easy peasy retracing my steps until I was back on the now even more softened trail. Just about the time I was getting tired of sinking and slopping in the snow it petered out, and I was surprised how fast I made it back to South Puyallup. I sent a message to my wife saying all was well and I had 6 miles to go, anticipating doing most of the West Side road in the dark. As it turned out, I only used a headlamp for the last 30 minutes and regained my truck and deflated bike at 6 PM.

Andrew (6717':)
Andrew (6717')
Andrew Summit Plateau
Andrew Summit Plateau
Emerald Ridge
Emerald Ridge
Layers
Layers
Rainier from Andrew
Rainier from Andrew
So. Puyallup Basalt Formations
So. Puyallup Basalt Formations
St Andrews and Aurora Lakes
St Andrews and Aurora Lakes
St. Helens from Andrew
St. Helens from Andrew
Sunset Amphitheater
Sunset Amphitheater
Tahoma Glacier
Tahoma Glacier

The day before (with the bike) I covered almost 27 miles and 5700' of climb in 7 hours, but today's ambulation slowed me down considerably (10 hours), especially on the return. However, I enjoyed these unusual two days in extraordinary weather in November with the park to myself. I've spent 36 years roaming here but still find new vistas and new experiences every time I visit.
Stats: 25 miles/5600'

--------------
"You run with me, not the other way around. (Cassie re races)

williswall.com
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lopper
off-route



Joined: 22 Jan 2002
Posts: 793 | TRs

lopper
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off-route
PostMon Nov 04, 2019 6:29 am 
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Excellent report.

We really appreciate your descriptions of forays into the less-trampled corners of MRNP.

And as a 30*+ year mtn biker myself, I concur with your trail-access mode.

*1985 Schwinn Cimarron --- now semi-mothballed in emeritus status.
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Felpudo
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Joined: 04 Sep 2018
Posts: 15 | TRs

Felpudo
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PostWed Nov 20, 2019 4:29 pm 
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Thanks for the report! I hike the Wonderland trail and have always wanted to get back to this section.
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BarbE
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Joined: 28 Jul 2006
Posts: 1064 | TRs

BarbE
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PostThu Nov 21, 2019 9:33 am 
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williswall wrote:
View across St Andrews Lake
View across St Andrews Lake

St Andrews Lake
St Andrews Lake

Views from last August while spending a couple of days tagging  Aurora, Tokaloo Rock and St. Andrews. Thanks for the TR and showing the place in a different season.
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