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Forum Index -> Trip Reports -> Gardner and North Gardner, 8/8/07
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Roald
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Post Fri Aug 10, 2007 2:17 pm    Gardner and North Gardner, 8/8/07
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Gardner and North Gardner Mountains
August 8, 2007
27 miles RT
About 8100 feet elevation gain


It all started with Gardner and North Gardner – this pointless yet compelling quest to climb my 50th Top 100 peak this year (described here).  To reach that goal I would have to knock off some easy peaks on a few day trips when I could escape from The City.  The problem with most of the easy peaks on the Top 100 list, however, is that it takes a long time to get to them.  Nothing is simple in the Cascades.

The prototype trip I had in mind – back in the dreamy haze of Spring when climbing a bunch of mountains seemed like a good idea – was Gardner and North Gardner.  The approach is 10.5 miles each way to Gardner Meadows, plus the scrambles themselves:  if I could do this trip in a day, there was hope of getting to peak #50 within a year.  If not, well, then score another victory for the mountains.

So for some time I dreamed of scrambling up Gardner and North Gardner in a day outing.  It would be a test of mettle.  A gut-check.  A measure of the reserve left in my tank.  A monkey to get off my back.  A sound of the other shoe dropping.  An endless string of clichés.

Whatever.  But for various reasons I couldn’t break away to try this trip.  Until Wednesday.  Armed with good info from “Summit Routes,” and not-as-good info from “75 Scrambles,” I set forth on the never-ending trail to Gardner Meadows.  The crescent moon was long gone and the sun poked through clouds by the time I stopped at the meadows to choke down some Gu and dry nuts.  Gazing at a photocopy of the “Summit Routes” description, I realized that Scott Stephenson had taken the picture on page 129 at the exact same spot at which I was standing.  There must be a big “X” that tells you to stop at that spot.  In the picture there is a line depicting the route up Gardner: go up, zig to the right of some trees, zag left of some other tree, zig left of some rocks…  The way was all laid out in front of me, like the lunch buffet at an Indian restaurant.

So up I went.  My plan was to zip up the mountain – after all, I had the book, the picture, the zigs, the zags, everything one needs.  Facilitating my zippiness, I thought, would be a light pack.  I had written asking if I could leave my ice axe at home, and Scott kindly wrote back and said I would not need it.  This saved me precisely 15.5 ounces of weight – give or take a pound – the difference, I was convinced, between zipping to the top and heat stroke half way up.

Well, I avoided heat stroke, this time anyway.  But I did not exactly zip up either.  I sort of slogged up.  Slogging is a time-honored method of travel.  It is the only method with which I have much familiarity.  It does not earn beauty points, but it gets you there.

On my way I encountered this old tree also trying to walk up the mountain.  It was going even slower than me:


Leaving the tree to its own devices, I soon made it to the top and looked down at… Winthrop!  My wife was down there somewhere, sipping iced coffee and slapping away at her computer.  I waved.

Then it was down Gardner’s west ridge to North Gardner:


Every report I have read describes Gardner and North Gardner as large piles of scree.  This is true, but sticking to the ridges was relatively enjoyable.  Here is North Gardner’s south ridge from near Point 8487:


The tops of both mountains offer good views of nearby Silver Star:


… and the Pasayten peaks:


Smoke billowed up from a fire to the south, a reminder of what time of year it is.  Coming down, I dodged rocks kicked off by a nearby goat, and skied down the massive scree slope from the ridge that connects the two mountains:


There was more green (“shrubbery”) in the pretty meadows below:


The trip out was uneventful, and after a day of Gu and nuts, the musty burger in Winthrop went down like a Rachel Ray fritata.  It was a good day.

A couple of observations:

First, thanks to Scott and Summit Routes for a nice, concise, and helpful description of the routes.

Second, hats off to Tom Sjoljeth.  Who is this guy?  He summitted these two peaks last September.  Since he has climbed all Top 100, his name is in every summit register I have been seeing lately.  I feel like I am stalking the poor guy.  He has nothing to worry about, however.  I may be faster than that old tree, but only slightly.

And third, all that scree walking left me time to think.  Too much time, perhaps.  But I would like to raise an issue that most climbers and scramblers have no doubt pondered.  Increasingly, human traffic in these hills is leaving its footprints.  On the Gardners it shows up as a boot track through much of the talus along or near the ridges.  Following a boot track is easy, and it helped me get on and off these mountains in a day.  But with all these aids – boot tracks, guide books, cairns, even maps – we lose something too.

I have a friend who roots around in the woods with no map or compass.  He rarely goes far, sometimes spending a whole day within a mile or two radius.  But he has as amazing a time as I have with my destinations and summits.  Different strokes, I guess.  But also a nice reminder of the various ways to enjoy these special places.
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Sabahsboy
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Post Fri Aug 10, 2007 5:16 pm    North Gardner and Gardner
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Roald, this is very well written and most enjoyable to read and ponder.  thank you for th TR.  Several very nice photos....the Cascades offer so much diversity of terrain, geologic conditions, glaciation, etc.  I love these Trs and the variety of experiences, points of view and the physical landforms described.  Kudos to you!  One day!  I sweat just thinking on it.
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GeoTom
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Post Fri Aug 10, 2007 5:21 pm   
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Thank you Roald.

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Tazz
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Post Fri Aug 10, 2007 5:44 pm   
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up.gif  Nice report! It took me back to when we did it a few months ago!  More snow then. NO snow now!!!  good stuff.... thanks!  agree.gif
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Randy
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Post Fri Aug 10, 2007 6:15 pm   
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Good day trip!

Sounds like a fun way to do both mountains. It was fun doing it with a bunch of crazies over two days as well.
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Roald
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Post Fri Aug 10, 2007 10:25 pm   
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Tazz and Randy - Your trip to the Gardners sounded like a lot of fun!  Thanks for the TRs and pics - they helped motivate me to get to this place.
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Magellan
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Post Sat Aug 11, 2007 8:39 pm   
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Mr R, it looks like you are linking to thumbnails.  Can you repost the big ones?  Very nice writing in this report.
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Tom_Sjolseth
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Joined: 30 May 2007
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Post Sun Aug 12, 2007 10:34 pm   
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Hi Roald!  Congrats on an excellent climb of two very cool mountains.. and way to style it in one day.  Your 50 at 50 goal is a great one, even if you are stalking me.   biggrin.gif

I look forward to seeing you in the hills someday.
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summitseeker
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Post Sun Aug 19, 2007 10:08 am   
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Awesome Roald!  That's a big day doing both of 'em!  I love that area, that's for sure.  And glad the route descriptions helped you out.  That scree ski sure is nice, huh?  I hear you about the boot tracks, cairns and evidence of passage.  Some of the peaks definitely have that -- particularly the more "popular" ones.  People are getting out, that's for sure.

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"Find out who you are and then do it on purpose."
www.summitroutes.com : Guidebook to the 100 highest peaks in Washington
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wildernessed
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Post Sun Aug 19, 2007 10:52 am   
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Very nice ! up.gif
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Jamin Smitchger
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Post Sun Aug 19, 2007 5:24 pm   
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Quote:
And third, all that scree walking left me time to think.  Too much time, perhaps.  But I would like to raise an issue that most climbers and scramblers have no doubt pondered.  Increasingly, human traffic in these hills is leaving its footprints.  On the Gardners it shows up as a boot track through much of the talus along or near the ridges.  Following a boot track is easy, and it helped me get on and off these mountains in a day.  But with all these aids – boot tracks, guide books, cairns, even maps – we lose something too.

I totally agree, but there are so many places that have not been trampled. They are generally not as spectacular, but they have their own wilderness allure.
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Rigafari
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Post Sun Aug 19, 2007 5:49 pm   
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Nice TR......That terrain looks like it would be even better with snow on it...so you could slide downhill any way you want
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wildernessed
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Post Sun Aug 19, 2007 6:03 pm   
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up.gif Nice and a future trip on the list. I share your concerns, don't we all wish just us and a few of our friends were the only ones out there. Nature has a way of changing though and I would be surprised if these mountains are even standing in a million years. The Appalachain Mountains in the East were once taller than any range in the lower 48, worn down some are only 2000' and date back four billion years.
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Forum Index -> Trip Reports -> Gardner and North Gardner, 8/8/07  
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