Happy new year! My hiking partner (M) and I decided to ring in 2021 with a little snowshoeing. Watching the avy forecast carefully over the last few days, and pouring over my lists of 'safe snowshoe spots', I finally settled on Mutton Mountain in the Norse Peak Wilderness.
The forecast was cloudy and in the high 30s. Visibility wasn't predicted to be good, but what's the fun of climbing 3000 ft and seeing anything anyway?
We parked at the end of FR 7170 and were on the trail around 8:30 am. There is no snow at the TH (elevation 2800'). The trail starts along Deep Creek, which has a beautiful cascade right at the beginning. It stair steps up the ridge, interspersing flat plateaus with switch backs. We only had one annoying log to navigate, but we did have to placate the trail guardian for safe passage.
The snow started around 4000' once we hit the burn area. We put our snowshoes on at 4400'. Then it was up, up, up. We were lucky to have intermittent tracks to follow, but we still broke trail ~70% of the time.
The weather turned out much better than we hoped. When we finally gained the ridge at 6000' we had stellar views of Rainier and east all the way to Stuart!
From here, we dropped down 200' on the ridge towards Mutton before we ran into a sketchy looking, perfectly wind loaded, and un-anchored slope. We mulled over our options and decided we were tired of breaking trail so we retreated back to the top of the ridge at 6011' for lunch. M and I decided to name this point 'Little Lamb' so that we would feel like we "achieved something", instead of "giving up". After lunch, we walked down into the early winter sunset, enjoying the change in the atmosphere as the weather rolled in over Rainier and stole our perfect blue skies.
We were back at the truck and on the way home shortly before 4:30 pm. All in all, it was an awesome adventure with good company.
-------------- For a good time call: 1-800-SLD-ALDR.
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