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rubywrangler
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PostFri Oct 09, 2020 7:04 pm 
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After a summer of mostly solo trips, I was excited for Julia's return from the east coast just in time for larch season. Unlike last year when we snow camped near Stiletto lake, this weekend was summer weather all the way except for Saturday night, which was frosty.  On Friday we hiked up the North Fork Entiat trail to the lovely 6900' meadow below Saska and Emerald, where we camped for 2 nights.  On the way we saw a pine marten - a first for both of us. (Unfortunately I didn't take the time for manual focus and my dumb camera thought I was trying to photograph some trees rolleyes.gif ) Larch territory begins shortly after turning left on the Pyramid mountain trail and the colors were glorious.  

blurry pine marten
blurry pine marten
saska, emerald, pretty meadow
saska, emerald, pretty meadow
saska
saska
sunset light on emerald
sunset light on emerald
sunset light on cardinal
sunset light on cardinal

On Saturday we headed over to Pinnacle under hazy skies. I had cell service at Saska Pass so I cast my first fat bear week vote of the day (32 Chunk).  Descending from the pass, we were able to stay on the trail for a little while but then lost it and made a beeline north to roughly where the Borealis pass trail begins on the USGS map.  Thankfully the ground was damp and we weren't kicking up ash all through the burn.  For ~400' above Snow Brushy creek we didn't see any sign of the trail, but around 6400' we found it right where it's supposed to be, and followed it pretty much all the way to Borealis pass, except for briefly losing it in a meadow at 6900'. Many delays to admire beautiful basins and meadows along the way.

morning at camp (photo by julia)
morning at camp (photo by julia)
high larches on emerald
high larches on emerald
heading to saska pass
heading to saska pass
cardinal
cardinal
emerald from saska pass
emerald from saska pass
descending the burn west of saska pass
descending the burn west of saska pass
on the trail to borealis pass
on the trail to borealis pass
many photo stops
many photo stops

pretty meadow at 6900 along the trail to borealis pass
pretty meadow at 6900 along the trail to borealis pass
larch in a notch
larch in a notch
heading up to borealis pass
heading up to borealis pass
saska and emerald from borealis pass
saska and emerald from borealis pass
bonanza
bonanza

From Borealis pass, we went north along the easy ridge, stopped briefly to chat with a group of three descending climbers, and then headed up Pinnacle's south slope. This slope is loose at first, but solid higher up. Then it's an easy walk on a bootpath along the ridge to the summit. Views were smoky, but still pretty great. I voted on the second fat bear week matchup of the day (128 Grazer). On the descent, we skipped Borealis pass and took a shortcut down an obvious heather ramp and then a rocky gully to a talus basin at 7200'.  Then it was just a little larchy meandering to meet up with the trail. I had hoped to visit lake 7240 in the cirque north of Saska but we ended up running short on daylight. We more or less retraced our steps (and very helpful deer tracks) and got back to camp just before sunset.

on the ridge to pinnacle
on the ridge to pinnacle
looking northwest from the ridge
looking northwest from the ridge
climbing up to the summit ridge
climbing up to the summit ridge
pinnacle summit views from glacier peak to copper
pinnacle summit views from glacier peak to copper
summit view south
summit view south
emerald, cardinal, saska, lake 7200+
emerald, cardinal, saska, lake 7200+
descending the ridge
descending the ridge
descending pinnacle
descending pinnacle
gully shortcut into another larch basin
gully shortcut into another larch basin
looking back from the trail to saska pass
looking back from the trail to saska pass
sunset light on gopher
sunset light on gopher

On Sunday, the smoke had totally cleared. We got an earlier start and headed up to Saska. After making our way up the long, loose talus slope to Saska's SW ridge, we both agreed that we had no desire to continue climbing that pile of loose rubble and headed back down (but first I voted for Bear 747). We climbed Emerald instead, which was much more pleasant and very straightforward. A cairn indicates where to cross over from the wide, looser gully to the more solid one on the right. Above the gully is a talus field with a bootpath leading to a small saddle below the summit. I got about halfway up the exposed ridge south of the saddle when Julia reminded me that the summit was to the north and I very carefully turned around. embarassedlaugh.gif We hung out at the summit for awhile, appreciating the views and the lack of smoke. Did not find a register. I sent a video to my dad from just below the summit, and he was not as impressed.  lol.gif

morning light in the north fork entiat valley
morning light in the north fork entiat valley
view from saska saddle
view from saska saddle
saska west ridge, no thx
saska west ridge, no thx
descending saska
descending saska
lovely meadow below saska and emerald
lovely meadow below saska and emerald
emerald saska basin from above
emerald saska basin from above
climbing the second gully on emerald
climbing the second gully on emerald
not the summit (photo by julia)
not the summit (photo by julia)
the summit (photo by julia)
the summit (photo by julia)
emerald park and north
emerald park and north
better summit views today
better summit views today
sawtooths
sawtooths
cardinal
cardinal
emerald
emerald
cardinal and north fork valley
cardinal and north fork valley
"nice but too rocky"
"nice but too rocky"

After Emerald we packed up camp and headed back down the Pyramid mountain trail toward Grouse Pass.  Really lovely views along the trail.  On the far (SE) side of Grouse pass, we descended to a verrrry fancy horse camp complete with picnic tables, a hearth, and a bear box.  We filled up with all the water we could carry and then we went straight east up the ridge to Pyramid. As we were climbing, the low angle late afternoon sun lit up all the larches on the ridges around us.  It was stunning!  After 1100' or so we hit the Pyramid viewpoint trail which is very meandering but eventually got us to the summit.  

yet another pretty meadow along they pyramid mountain trail
yet another pretty meadow along they pyramid mountain trail
on the trail to pyramid mountain
on the trail to pyramid mountain
pyramid
pyramid
julia on the ridge
julia on the ridge
late afternoon sun lighting up larches on all ridges
late afternoon sun lighting up larches on all ridges
sunset
sunset

We cowboy camped in a small depression just SE of Pyramid's summit, which provided some protection from the wind at first, but the wind shifted after sunset and began whipping up from Lake Chelan. When my crocs tried to fly away, we hopped out of our bags and frantically secured everything. The wind died down completely after a couple hours and it was surprisingly warm. On Monday we got up at sunrise, had a long breakfast, I voted for Bear 128 Grazer again, and then we hiked out via the Pyramid creek trail back to the North Fork trail.

pyramid shadow
pyramid shadow
looking down to lake chelan from pyramid
looking down to lake chelan from pyramid
pyramid summit
pyramid summit
a whole lotta larches
a whole lotta larches
pyramid
pyramid

Trip totals were about 33.5 miles and 13.3k elevation gain, including the 1300' "side trip" to Saska's ridge. On the way home we stopped at Saddle Rock brewery in Wenatchee for some hazy IPAs and a very delicious apple/bacon pizza on the patio. Another fun larch weekend in the books!
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RichP
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PostSat Oct 10, 2020 8:10 am 
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For my money this is the best larch area in the Cascades. All those pocket basins and hideouts to explore make it even more attractive.
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OutOfOffice
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PostSat Oct 10, 2020 11:47 am 
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"nice but too rocky"

haha. Way to sum it up pops!
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Brushbuffalo
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Location: there earlier, here now, somewhere later... Bellingham in between
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PostSat Oct 10, 2020 4:06 pm 
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Rubywrangler, you say 'yet another larch trip' but yours is truly outstanding! What a good trip with your friend Julia.

It is no disgrace to back off Saska. Nice for some of us to not be driven by a list, although those who are have my respect.

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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triad
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PostSat Oct 10, 2020 5:25 pm 
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Great trip! Been thinking about a late season trip to the area. How hard was it to find water?
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Carbonj
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PostSat Oct 10, 2020 5:31 pm 
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I think I met you at the parking lot when you were leaving, thanks for the info. I had a great time and hit some of the areas you did. Seen no one for 3 days, got to the trailhead  it was deserted ,quarter mile down road  1 ft diameter snag across road using leatherman, jack from car and pry poles with plenty of cussing got down the road. Would of stayed and waited tor help but only had one beer in car. Man I wished I had  44 stihl in my trunk.
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Carbonj
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PostSat Oct 10, 2020 5:40 pm 
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Traid , water not a problem except way up on pyramid.
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Brushbuffalo
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PostSat Oct 10, 2020 5:43 pm 
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Carbonj wrote:
1 ft diameter snag across road using leatherman

I surely hope you didn't use the saw on your Leatherman (' your model may differ') to agonize through that. Tell us it isn't true!

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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Carbonj
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PostSat Oct 10, 2020 7:01 pm 
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Its true I used the saw on the leatherman on splintered sections then wedging pry pole action.I recieved the leatherman for working at MRNP on trailcrew for repairing saws, lewis winch, assorted stuff. What I was wishing for was a  simple hand saw and chunk of webbing or rope then using my mighty yaris to yank that freakin tree out of the road.
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rubywrangler
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PostSat Oct 10, 2020 7:15 pm 
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Oh no sorry to hear that carbonj! After my last visit to that trailhead I vowed to keep a saw in my car but never got around to getting one, so I was very relieved when your Yaris pulled in. Glad you had a good trip otherwise!
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Bootpathguy
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PostSun Oct 11, 2020 6:08 am 
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rubywrangler wrote:
late afternoon sun lighting up larches on all ridges
late afternoon sun lighting up larches on all ridges

Beautiful lighting. Great capture! Thanks for sharing

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Experience is what'cha get, when you get what'cha don't want
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > yet another larch report - chelan mountains 10.2 - 10.5.20
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