Azure blue - cloudless - sun warming the forest. Ahh, waking up to a crisp morning at the Hannegan trail head. The overnight just on the fringe of the parking area hadn't been all that bad. Most folks called it quits by 10:00 p.m. on Saturday night and all was quiet - even our (too) nearby neighbors who had decided to set up camp right on top of us! However, the two-dog night proved to be quite cozy and quiet. Clover and Sadie were pooped puppies after their Hannegan Peak adventure. But this glorious morn, they were ready to go again. We assembled ourselves, had some breakfast, cleaned up and broke camp by about 8:15 a.m. It was still a little chilly - because the sun wasn't quite shining through to our camping area. None-the-less, we changed into to warm-weather hiking stuff and loaded up the cars and headed towards the Twin Lakes road - only about 7 miles away. That's a nice little road - in better condition than I expected, given past reports. There is one dicey area, however, about 5 miles in that you have to pay attention - no room for error (or another car coming from the other direction) - it's a steep, one-bounce drop down the side! Once passed that, we got to the trailhead for Yellow Aster Butte and Tomyhoi Lake (the road continues on to the Twin Lakes trailhead) - there already were at least 25 cars parked along the side of the road. We picked a spot and unloaded about 30' down the road from the trailhead. (There's even a relatively new, maintained biffy at the trailhead). We signed ourselves in for the day-trip and up we headed.
Make no mistake, this trail gets serious quickly. It's steep - much steeper than our trail started yesterday for Hannegan.
Sadie and Clover were ready - bounding up the trail and running back to see what was taking us so long.
You are in forest for about a 1/4 mile, then you break out into some switchbacks up a clear cut area for another 1/2 mile and then back into the forest (most welcome later in the afternoon when it got nice and toasty).
We could get peek-a-boo views of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan as we meandered up the hillside.
We switch-backed our way up through the forest and at this lovely little meadow, ran into some snow on the trail - not much - but enough for the dogs to cool their toes and Clove to do her "penguin on the belly" imitation.
There's a good supply of water right now, so that wasn't a problem for the dogs. We continued on to the intersection of the Yellow Aster Butte YAB) trail and the Tomyhoi Lake trail.
It seemed more than the 2 miles reported in the trail books. We headed left on the YAB trail - and followed a welcome traverse that was a little less grueling than the previous few miles. Got a nice view of the Butte from here.
As we traversed around, we could see across the creek valley to the intersection where we split from the trail.
We came to a nice little rest area were there was a lovely creek and views off to the east/southeast
- we could look west and see up to YAB and folks up above - but later we would learn that this wasn't the true summit.
We ran into some more snow and the trail started up again
- this time, we swung south and then headed west around the the lower part of YAB. This was stunning - views to Mt. Baker and Shuksan
and as we moved further west - we could see the semi-melted out tarns in YAB meadow. You also get a great view of Tomyhoi and the trail from the tarns to Tomyhoi.
The trail is in great shape and easy to follow.
We could look west/southwest towards Welcome Pass where Trail Pair, Hiker Jim, Sadie and I were earlier this year - it looked so different without all the snow on it.
We came to another junction - where you can drop down to YAB meadows and the Tomyhoi trail - or, turn right and head up (and I do mean UP!) the trail to YAB. Hiker Jim, Clover, Sadie and I headed up while Trail Pair grabbed a bite to eat.
We got to the top of this trail, thinking we were on the summit of YAB - - - - but, oh now, that was still about 1/2 mile to the north. You have to drop down (a little snow here, but nothing daunting) and then cross a ridge and head up what appears to be a very narrow knob.
As it turns out, there is plenty of room on this true summit (a hundred feet or so higher than the first bump. All four of us and two dogs made it just fine up this last scramble - there was another group of 4 with a dog also there.
The views from here were outstanding - Tomyhoi Lake, Mt. Larrabee, American and Canadian Border Peaks - views into Canada - truly awesome.
We exchanged taking photos with the other group so that we could document our success of reaching the true summit, and talked about taking a different route back - one that would have us glissading down a westerly facing slope off of YAB - heading down to the YAB meadow and the tarns. It looked to be a bit steep, but doable. The other group of 4 left first and we watched as they made there way. What we noticed is that they didn't have ice axes (we did) and they seemed to have a bit of a struggle getting down. The snow looked to be fairly slow - but that was deceiving. So, down we headed from the summit.
We picked a somewhat similar route to theirs to make our way down. Thank goodness we had our ice axes! The snow was quite fast and the slope was steep.
But, since this would likely be our last glissade of the season, what the heck?! Sadie and Clover loved it! They ran up and down the slope (show-offs - just cause they have 4-paw drive!) trying to glissade with each person that came down. We got to the tarns and ran into the earlier group of 4 and their dog - who Clover proceeded to play this wonderful game of tag (where do those dogs get that energy?)
Chavez (the other dog) at one point got himself off out onto an arm of snow/ice in the middle of a tarn (see pic above) that looked like it would break at any moment! We all waited, but he made it back just fine! We headed back to the main YAB trail - which included a fairly steep, switch-back trail up to the main trail - short and steep, but in great condition.
We got back up on the main trail and headed down.
We were surprised by the number of people on the trail - at least 50 - and the number of people who were still coming in when we were on our way out around 2:00 p.m. It's a very popular trail and it's no wonder - the views are spectacular. It would be a great overnight backpack of its own - and it's not all that far to go (although, you do gain some pretty good elevation, so travel light). There was plenty of water the whole way - and staying in YAB Meadows would make getting water easy. You could camp here and do several day trips, including Tomyhoi (a bit dicey just before the summit - so make sure you know what you're doing). It had warmed up considerably on our way out, but the route back didn't seem as long as the descent yesterday did. We got back to the cars, changed into some clean clothes and plotted a strategy for next weekend - - - perhaps Sourdough? The dogs collapsed at the car - but a good collapse. They were pretty happy dogs. In all, about a 6400' gain this weekend and about 20 miles. Not bad. And, the bugs were tolerable. All in a dog's day of work. (P.S. Hiker Jim and Trail Pair will probably post more pix on this report.)
YAB is definitely on my list of to do's one of these days.
-------------- "There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." -P.J. O'Rourke
"Ignorance is natural. Stupidity takes commitment." -Solomon Short
Beautiful hike......a great day in the Mountains. It was a true "bluebird day". Thhis hike had everything....stunning views....a bit of elevation gain....a fun scramble to the true summit.....and what is probably the last glisade of the season!
Exellent Report.....and photos.
-------------- This thing called work is interfering with my play
I think we saw you on Dirty Face/Leavenworth. You would love Yellow Aster - plan an overnighter and go on to Tomyhoi. That would be wonderful. The dogs LOVED Yellow Aster. Don't know how much snow is left now, though. s.d.
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