Shhh - Sadie doesn't know that she missed a hike. Well, she knows. She saw the daypack and poles this morning. Plus, Hiker Jim showed up at 7:00 a.m. - just like usual. But, she didn't know exactly what she missed! It's ok though - no dog abuse here. She got to go swimming in Lake Washington with her summer buddy, Clover. So she got over it pretty quickly. It's that darn pouty look and guilt trip when the driver got home. In any case, it was a day when Hiker Jim, 1/2 of Trail Pair (Kolleen) and S.D. hit the trail to finally do Red Mountain (up the Commonwealth Basin). We postponed the trip from the 4th of July, since it was raining on the west side and we worried the route would be slippery - probably a good idea. Besides, Sadie did this trip 3 years ago, so, it's not like she missed a new summit bagging trip. So, anyway, we met up with K at the Issaquah Park and Ride "annex" parking lot and the three of us headed east in Hiker Jim's car to the PCT trailhead at Snoqualmie Summit. Amazingly, there were only about 4 or 5 other cars in the parking lot, so we got a great parking spot and we were on the trail a little before 8:30 a.m.
The first 2 1/2 miles up the PCT went quickly. We opted not to go the old Cascade Crest trail and stick to the newer route. A solo hiker w/ dog and then a couple actually passed us - we were a bit chagrined, thinking we were moving at a pretty good clip. We made the split at the Commonwealth Basin trail - where we saw the couple resting for a snack and drink. They were headed to the Katwalk - seemed as though the few we talked to at the trailhead all intended to do Kendall today. On we headed towards Commonwealth Basin and Red Pond.
There was still some snow on the trail - not a lot. We would find more snow on our return trip on the old Cascade Trail.
The creek crossings were a snap. The creeks are low and we found a log to cross with no trouble.
The bugs were hanging around - but not zeroing in on us for breakfast. We got to the "flat spot" just before Red Pond in record time. Probably a little more than an hour. Here's where you need to pay attention. At the end of the last switch back that takes you up towards Red Pond, there appears to be a trail to the left. This actually just goes to a nice little viewpoint. You can continue straight (on this day, there was snow covering the regular trail) - this will take you to Red Pond
and the trail to Red Pass. BUT - look carefully! You will see a trail to your right - just beyond the viewpoint trail.
It will take you up the CORRECT Red Mountain Trail. DO NOT go up a little farther north on the trail toward Red Pond and take what appears to be another route up Red Mountain. You will end up bushwhacking. You can see the rock and cairn that mark the trail up to Red Mountain if you look carefully.
In any case, we went too far North and did end up bushwhacking and doing a lot of steep scrambling up solid rock faces, as well as loose scree- like rock.
You want to stay to the South of the big gully on the west face, regardless. Head more towards what appears to be the somewhat steep ridge, which is more to the south. If you have managed to find the correct route up Red Mountain, you will want to go up the left (North) side of a smaller gully and then cross it about half way up to the right (South) side of the gully and continue on up. The trail is hit and miss - but you generally can find what appears to be a boot path in most places.
We did find some cairns on the way down that helped make trail finding much easier. But, as is usually the case, it's always easier to see the trail on the way down than it is on the way up! Trust me, the more-or-less "real" trail is much easier on you then the "head straight up" approach - which is what we basically did until we got about 3/4's of the way up the slope. It was quite steep and looking back, we could see Red Pond far below us - it was snow free, but was mostly encircled in snow.
Just above this flat spot - and heading up the trail toward Red Pass, it is snow free. Even though the Driver had been up Red before, it was much the same "hunt and peck" approach - and that was 3 years ago. Fortunately, Hiker Jim and K were very tolerant of my bushwhacking, but I think they were much relieved to finally find a real trail to take us the rest of the way to the summit. Once on the trail, the route to the summit was pretty easy - still steep, but much easier to follow.
We got to the summit in under 3 hours (after wasting about a 1/2 hour poking around trying to find a good route).
We had a lovely lunch on top. Enjoyed the beautiful views - and Hiker Jim pointed out various peaks and trails to us.
We had great views of Guye, Snoqualmie and Lundin - all peaks we each had summited - some of them we had done together. Guye appeared particularly miniscule from this vantage point.
We spent about 40 minutes on the summit soaking in the sun. There wasn't much of a breeze, but the bugs weren't too bad. As we headed down, K and I opted for poles, Hiker Jim decided to bare-hand it. It was steep, but no worse than other scrambles we have been on in the past.
And, having the trail more visible, helped boost our confidence. We came to the clump of trees and saw that the route we were heading down was much more accommodating and NO bushwhacking! Nice.
We saw lovely slopes of flowers - Red, white and blue - and a little lavender and purple thrown in for good measure!
We got back down to the location where we should have started and set up a cairn for return visitors. The snow helped to hide the route - but it won't be around long. On our way down, we ran into about 6 people coming up the trail. They all seemed to be heading just to Red Pond or maybe Red Pass. We felt pretty good that we had made it up Red Mtn. and down by Noon. The trip out was uneventful. We took the old "Abandoned" trail back to the parking lot (rather than the PCT), cutting off a little distance.
Crossing the creek about 3 times was relatively easy - logs to cross.
There was much more snow on the old trail than there had been on our way in - but it was easy enough to go over - nothing like our trip in February when we had to drop about 10' to cross the creek! Sadie and the other 1/2 of Trail Pair were missed on this lovely day. But they probably had a relaxing day doing something else. We managed to gain about 3000', around 8 miles and 5 1/2 hours car to car. Not bad. Sadie was resting comfortably when I got home - all was forgiven by dinner time.
-------------- Four-paw buddy lets me tag along!
You know, about the trail shennanigans: I think the best boot track to the top actually starts soon BEFORE you get to the "flat spot." Whenever I follow that little trail from the flat area I always end up in cliffs or bushes. Although it's tough to tell, maybe we're actually talking about the same trail. If so, that might be a cairn I put there 2 years ago. Whatever, even taking the "better" trail I always end up losing it for a bit and doing some scrambling.
The best route (i.e. not underbrush) seemed to start immediately when you get up the last switchback from Commonwealth Basin. As soon as you see the trail to your left going towards the viewpoint - look right for the trail up Red. It is definitely before the "flat spot." Indeed, this is a rocky little scramble - be sure you stay close together, because a bonk on the head from a dense little projectile could ruin the hike!
Also, what is with the "abandoned" trail? It is not at all abandoned, and it's shorter AND more scenic AND has less highway noise than the PCT route. I see no reason ever to take the PCT to get to Red Mtn. In fact, even if I was going to Kendall Katwalk in the future, I'd take the "abandoned trail" and then cut up to the PCT where they meet.
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