Forum Index > Trip Reports > North Mountain (Darrington) 1/13/08
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 30 Jan 2007
Posts: 4046 | TRs
Location: Shoreline
Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostSun Feb 24, 2008 2:48 pm 
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I thought this trip would be a fairly straightforward travel up through trees and logging roads, but not much of a view on the relatively low summit (3824 feet).  Wrong on both counts!

The hike up gave us an experience of all the ways that forest can obstruct or benefit travel, especially when it’s been logged:
  • terrible slash in the clearcuts – unpredictable deep postholing.
  • pesky downed junk on side slopes getting away from the clearcuts – slippery treading over and under the trunks.
  • nice tall straight young trees on the higher slopes – easy marching uphill.
  • thick crowded small snowy trees below the crest – winding and pushing through crowded branches showering us with snow.
  • gorgeous tall trees crowning the crest – brought almost to a standstill to admire and photograph them.
But the summit is positioned at the junction of two drainages with great views in several directions:
  • west along the Stillaguamish to all of the Whitehorse area peaks
  • and along the Sauk north way up into the North Cascades south down to the Mountain Loop peaks.
A week ago, Justus followed the south ridge to the summit, using logging roads at the base and cutting the switchbacks where needed.  In hindsight, that seems the best route and it’s basically the route we followed down.  Unfortunately, foresight was not so wise, and we took a different route up.

North Mountain Trip Map
North Mountain Trip Map

We drove through Darrington, turned left on the road by the mill, and followed it to about 1100 feet.  One member of our party had found additional new logging roads that aren’t on the topo maps, and he thought we could follow those up.  At first the road gained elevation steadily.  Behind us, the valley clouds gradually cleared just enough to see the peaks begin to peek out and greet us.  But then the road petered out in a clearcut…

First Tip of Whitehorse
First Tip of Whitehorse
Walking the road at sunrise
Walking the road at sunrise
Higgins among the clouds
Higgins among the clouds
Jumbo among the clouds
Jumbo among the clouds
Whitehorse above the clouds
Whitehorse above the clouds

It was like hiking through a viciously booby-trapped obstacle course.  Trying to step over and around downed logs, and then abruptly crashing down into holes, trapping snowshoes among the criss-crossing slash underneath.  Eventually we gave up and cut eastward to reach the road, but first we had to cross several steep creek gullies and more clearcuts…

Evil Trees for hiking
Evil Trees for hiking
On the road again
On the road again

Finally we found the road on the south ridge and followed it in lengthy but steady switchbacks upward.  When it deteriorated, we hiked directly up the ridge on packed snow under straight young trees.  We made fine progress until the forest changed to small closely-packed brushy trees …

Good Trees for hiking
Good Trees for hiking
Bad Trees for hiking
Bad Trees for hiking

On the narrowing ridge, the trees crowded tight together, forcing us to weave in and out, impeded by clinging branches that dumped snow on us as we shoved them aside.  Then we were relived to find the next road and follow it almost to the top.  But not quite…

On the road for the third time
On the road for the third time
Dense trees near the crest
Dense trees near the crest

To reach the crest, we left the road for a brief slog up one last stretch of brushy trees, thinning out to finally provide hints of views.  And then, atop the crest, big beautiful trees, with open terrain beneath them and open terrain around them.

Arriving at big beautiful open trees
Arriving at big beautiful open trees
Glacier, Whitechuck, Pugh, Bedal/Sloan
Glacier, Whitechuck, Pugh, Bedal/Sloan
Jumbo Revealed, Whitehorse Hiding
Jumbo Revealed, Whitehorse Hiding

Free and rewarded at last for our efforts!  Behind and below us the Mountain Loop peaks stood out.  Ahead the ridge sloped gently upward to its summit.  Above our heads the trees were a fairy-tale forest of tall snow-flocked giants.  Under our feet the snow outlined sharp trenches between what must be long rock blocks laid on edge.  Around us the views stretched wider and wider.

Tall Snowy Trees
Tall Snowy Trees
Fairytale Forest
Fairytale Forest
Snow-plastered Giants
Snow-plastered Giants

We gathered on the summit and enjoyed the scenery.  The lookout stood about half a mile further down the ridge, but we didn’t go there because we had already lost too much time earlier in the day.  Beyond the lookout, the Baker area peaks and Pickets stood out surprisingly clear.

Arriving at the summit, past deeply trenched outcrops
Arriving at the summit, past deeply trenched outcrops
Summit group: Suzanne, Lynn, Mike, Lori,  Richard
Summit group: Suzanne, Lynn, Mike, Lori,  Richard
Matt near the summit, with Whitehorse
Matt near the summit, with Whitehorse
Mike getting a photo of Whitehorse
Mike getting a photo of Whitehorse
Summit teas with Sauk Valley, Whitechuck, etc.
Summit teas with Sauk Valley, Whitechuck, etc.
Summit tea with summit blocks & Whitehorse
Summit tea with summit blocks & Whitehorse

Views from the summit:

Baker
Baker
Lookout & Shuksan
Lookout & Shuksan
Lots of Pickets
Lots of Pickets
Sauk Valley
Sauk Valley

On my way out, I detoured to get a few different perspectives on the trees and views
Whitehorse through the branches
Whitehorse through the branches
Sentinels & Shadows
Sentinels & Shadows
Tall sugar-plum trees
Tall sugar-plum trees

Experimenting with my photos, I found that somehow the pictures of people on the crest took on a more poignant and emotional feel in black & white.
Simplified without the colors, the figures of the people seem to stand out more expressively.

Relaxing on the summit
Relaxing on the summit
Considering the route to the lookout
Considering the route to the lookout
Leaving the summit
Leaving the summit
Heading down
Heading down

On our descent, we took a much simpler course down the south ridge, sometimes following roads, sometimes just following the ridge to cut switchbacks.  But at the very bottom, there was one more problem…

To reach our cars, we needed to leave the big main road and follow a minor road sideways.  Somehow, we turned wrong and got lost in the dark.  After a long exercise of studying GPS’s by headlamp, we corrected our course and got out.

Lights of Darrington
Lights of Darrington
Nighttime Navigation
Nighttime Navigation

Stats:  9 miles, 3200 cumulative gain, 9.5 hours

--------------
“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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wildernessed
viewbagger



Joined: 31 Oct 2004
Posts: 8852 | TRs
Location: Wenatchee
wildernessed
viewbagger
PostSun Feb 24, 2008 2:57 pm 
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Good Stuff ! hockeygrin.gif
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Justus S.
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Joined: 17 Nov 2004
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Location: WA
Justus S.
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PostSun Feb 24, 2008 4:06 pm 
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Very cool Matt, thanks for the TR. It is very nice to see pictures of what it looks like on a nice day. up.gif  I think the summit area is quite interesting. Decsending in the dark on this one is something I was glad not to have had to do. Looks like you guys had a good trip though.
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Sabahsboy
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Joined: 18 Jul 2006
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Location: SW Sno County
Sabahsboy
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PostMon Feb 25, 2008 7:26 pm 
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Terrific!  The description relates an exhausting tale of ascent; the photos describe rough route and sublime summit.  Many thanks to all for executing such a spectacular snow hike and extracting beautiful images to share.
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Hiker Mama
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Joined: 25 Jun 2006
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Hiker Mama
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PostMon Feb 25, 2008 10:05 pm 
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Wow!!! eek.gif  That looks fabulous.  Thanks for the wonderful pictures and the interesting writeup.  up.gif
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 30 Jan 2007
Posts: 4046 | TRs
Location: Shoreline
Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostWed Feb 27, 2008 11:24 pm 
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Apparently some people in the group want to get rid of me, or maybe they just get tired of me asking them to take photos.  Observe:

Giant hiker's thumb ready to smash Matt
Giant hiker's thumb ready to smash Matt
Giant hiker's hand ready to smash Matt
Giant hiker's hand ready to smash Matt

--------------
“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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Suzanne
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Joined: 18 Feb 2008
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Suzanne
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PostThu Feb 28, 2008 12:10 am 
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ahh geez, matt, i am as bad a photographer as i feared....sorry to ruin such a nice shot!
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peltoms
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Joined: 13 Jul 2006
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peltoms
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PostThu Feb 28, 2008 5:47 am 
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That fairytale forest is great.  What about a transcript of the conversation around the map-GPS by headlamp?
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EastKing
Summit Addict



Joined: 28 Mar 2007
Posts: 2047 | TRs
Location: 40 hours week work; 40 hours summit
EastKing
Summit Addict
PostSun Mar 02, 2008 2:28 am 
North Mtn
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Fabulous Pics!!!!!

--------------
I am addicted to summits! I can't eat, drink or breath without them. Life without mountains would really suck.

http://www.myspace.com/climbandsurfmackg | http://www.summitpost.org/user_page.php?user_id=894
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > North Mountain (Darrington) 1/13/08
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