Forum Index > Trip Reports > Cow Heaven - Helen Buttes - North Cascades, WA (4/28/02)
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Tom
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PostTue Apr 30, 2002 8:15 pm 
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The alarm clock read "4:15".  How I woke up at the exact time I was supposed to be picking up Mike Collins a few miles away I have no idea, but one thing was for sure... there would be a new record time for the "shower, comb hair, get dressed, throw everthing in the car and make sure you didn't forget anything" drill.  Note to self:  set alarm for 3:50 AM not 3:50 PM next time.  Well, nothing like an adrenaline rush to wake you up in the morning.  Thanks to the lack of any vehicles with flashing lights along the way paranoid.gif I pulled into Mike Collins' driveway at 4:25, a meager 10 minutes late.

30 minutes later we hooked up with James and Paul at the Park 'n Ride just past Lynnwood.  We "oohed and aahed" as we transferred our gear into James' newly acquired Toyota 4-Runner "Limited" with leather seats.  It was nice to get a little shut eye riding in back before meeting up with Mitch and Greg just past Mt Vernon at 5:50 sharp.  Fortunately we arrived a tad early which allowed me to grab some breakfast (and lunch supplies) at the nearby mini mart.

After 10 minutes of grace Mitch decided the notoriously late Greg could find his own way and the 5 of us "roughed it" in the luxury mobile to Marblemount.  Being a "peak bagging" newbie it was great to carpool with such a wealth of climbing knowledge.  The free flow of information was a stark contrast to the tight lipped fishermen I normally converse with.  I absorbed several critical tidbits of information, such as someone posting under "icegirl" at cascadeclimbers.com being "exceptionally good looking" (layman's translation) and rumors of a bikini picture somewhere on the net suuure.gif.

Upon reaching the Marblemount ranger station we hooked up with "Mtn Mike" and "S" (aka Shannon & Steve).  We made sure we didn't park the vehicles at the ranger station, but instead drove them another 30 yards or so down the road lol.gif presumably to conserve energy that would be expended hiking 12 miles and 5600' of vertical.

Well, I would continue to ramble on about the hike, but "Mtn Mike" has spared you the agony and already written up a trip report which I've appended below.  It was a pleasure hiking up with Mtn Mike and talking about stuff like digital cameras, software, web design, free ISPs, and bargain shopping - topics which normally convince my hiking companions to hike faster than I do wink.gif.

As always, here are the pictures.  I would have liked more time to set up the waterfall and creek shots, but I could sense a few toes tapping impatiently at the parking lot.
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Tom
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PostTue Apr 30, 2002 8:29 pm 
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Mtn Mike's report:

After being ill for the last couple of weeks, I felt it was time I try to go out and play.  Saturday I was in the Darrington area doing some trial work stuff (easy).  Sunday I joined Mitch and his group of seven for a trip up Helen Buttes (Cow Heaven).  He was meeting at 6:50am at the Marblemount RS and I was fortunate to be able to spend the night in Darrington to make the drive very reasonable (40 minutes).

We left the RS at 7:15 am.  Our one worry on finding the trailhead was put to rest when we found a 3'x3'sign along the road a few minutes from the RS identifying the trail start.  I would say that there is room for 3+ cars (we parked at the RS).  The trail starts out on nice maintained tread and is nice hiking though the old growth.  Once around 1000' it gets a little steeper.  Many gorgeous waterfalls are past.  We found the first sign of snow around 1900' and it became completely covered around 2300'.  We were able to follow the trail to about 2600' and then we lost it in the snowcover.  We had a nice tract to follow (thanks to Don Goodman & company for going in Saturday).  We put on the snowshoes around 3000'.  Once we got to around 4400', it started opening up.  It was very nice hiking along the ridge toward the first (SW) Helen Butte.  However I was tiring and finding it hard to catch the group.  I went as fast as I could considering I still had a little cough remaining.  Our weather was looked good, the skies were clearing out giving some nice views.  We took the snowshoe off for the ascent up the ridge on the SW butte.  After getting the first butte, we continued along the ridge to the second (main) butte.  One section involved a 30' rock scramble.  I summited a bit after 1pm.  A Mountaineer group of 10 left the RS at 8:25am and the fast one's caught me before the first butte.  Five of them did the main butte.  I left the summit at 2:45pm.  I needed lots of time rest up after getting thrashed on the way up.  The later it got, the better the views got so it was nice spending some summit time.

For the return, I decided to cut the basin bypassing the SW butte.  I had tract to follow thinking it would be easy.  What a mistake!  The snow was deep muck.  I was postholing, so I had to put the snowshoes on and off a couple of times.  The tracks of the person I was following (Mike Collins) finally put on their snowshoes and travel improved.  The rest of the down trip went well and I was back to the car at 5:50pm.  If you want a nice hike with great views, head to Cow Heaven.  By late June most of the snow should be off the trail in the trees and then head to the ridge around 4800'.

Stats:  12 miles, 5600' gain, 10.6 hours.
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Stefan
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PostWed May 01, 2002 8:38 am 
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Tom, I sure hope you enjoyed being with my mistresses!

--------------
Art is an adventure.
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