Forum Index > Trip Reports > Evergreen Mountain lookout snowshoe, 3.16.2008
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Opus
Wannabe



Joined: 04 Mar 2006
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Location: The big rock candy mountain
Opus
Wannabe
PostSun Mar 16, 2008 7:34 pm 
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Continuing with our recent theme of turning very short lookout hikes into very long snowshoe approaches we headed up to Evergreen Mountain lookout.  A fantastic trip despite the clouds!  And an amazing contrast for the amount of snow we've received this year.  Everyone met at the start of the snowed-in Rapid River road and geared up.  We milled about waiting for Nikolai, having arrived earlier than expected, but then started up when he didn't arrive.  Also absent from this trip were the white dogs who are all recovering from a porcupine explosion on their trip yesterday.

Joanna and Bruce had attempted this peak several weeks ago and led the way into the woods.  They'd discovered an nicely flagged route that followed the fall line of the ridge all the way up, bypassing the road.  This saved many miles, but added much steepness.  Early on the snow was firm but thin and easily punched through.  Higher though we found fresh snow.  I was having serious traction trouble with my Atlas snowshoes and stayed in back much of the way.  Before long we began to cross several unmarked logging roads and several crossings of the main road.  Still we kept to our ridge run.

Off and on the clouds parted and teased us with blue sucker holes.  We kept going up, hoping for the best.  Around 4200 ft we crested a little bump, dropping down for a snack before exiting the trees on a long steep ridge ridge run up.  Going was slow on the steep slope.  There was a good foot of fresh snow adding to the slog.  Halfway up the clouds closed in on us, giving visibility of 20 feet in all directions.  Members of the group faded in and out of view but we all heard barking coming up fast behind.  Black and white labradoodles appeared and Nikolai caught us on the steepest bit.

Eventually we caught sight of trees in the distance and at 5000 ft we hit the main ridge line for a welcome break.  We passed along beside trees spiked over in huge hoar frost crystals on our way to the summit.  After a small up and down we again emerged from the trees onto another open ridge climb.  Finally in softer powder my snowshoes afforded some grip and I broke trail upwards.  It was very tiring in the soft and steep snow but the hardest part was simply telling what was snow and what was cloud.  I could see a corniced ridge to the right but not much more than that.  Slowly we went up and then we could see trees on the other side.

Now back in the trees the grade lessened but we still hadn't spotted the lookout.  The further we walked the narrower the ridge became.  The clouds were still making visibility very difficult.  Nearing where we assumed the lookout would be we had to descent a short ways to what we assumed was a little saddle.  But it was hard to see more than five feet ahead!  Was it a saddle?  A cornice?  Cloud?  I turned around and asked Suzanne, who also couldn't tell but was happy to let me be the guinea pig.  dizzy.gif   Slowly I moved on, poking with my pole, to find it simply a gentle downgrade.

And now we spotted the lookout!  Under a mound of snow we could see the upper foot of the roof, a chimney, and a spike.  A month ago it must have been completely buried!  We all thought back to Matt's photo showing his group leaning against it, escaping the wind.  But we had no wind break today, opting to eat a quick lunch and get out of the wind before we froze.  Before descending though I decided I wanted to get a little higher and snowshoed up to the top for the first winter ascent of the Evergreen Mountain lookout roof!  Several others posed on the super-summit before heading down too.

We zoomed along and quickly found ourselves at the start of the steep ridge descent.  I fell behind again, slipping and falling several times.  I had to take my snowshoes off to get decent traction and by now the rest were far down the ridge.  Lucky for me though the clouds parted and I caught a glimpse of the whole ridge with the rest tiny dots on the way down.  Soon I caught up and we all looked back at the now visible ridge, marveling at how steep it looked.  After some gawking and very nice local views we entered the trees again for the forested descent to the cars.

After such nice fresh snow we were now treated to the now softened old goo and post-hole hell back down.  We went as far as possible in snowshoes but soon everyone decided random postholing was preferable to out of control sliding and removed our snowshoes.  Going was now slow and everyone had their shares of encounters with sunken logs.  But our descent was still much faster than expected and happily we emerged onto the solid road.

What a great trip, despite the lack of huge views!  This is a great route if the snow in the trees is solid enough.  The ridgewalk up, though quite steep, is a great ride.  And at our Vinnachio coffee stop we discovered that while we'd escaped sunburn we were all fairly red from the wind.   lol.gif

Full set of trip photos here!

GPS tracks
GPS tracks
Follow the ribbons
Follow the ribbons
Up the ridge
Up the ridge
Going up
Going up
Some blue!
Some blue!
Up the ridge
Up the ridge
What happened to the ground?
What happened to the ground?
Ridge walk
Ridge walk
Nikkolai
Nikkolai
Hoar frost
Hoar frost
Nearing the top
Nearing the top
See it?
See it?
Bob on top
Bob on top
Another ridge descent
Another ridge descent
Some views
Some views
The landmark tree
The landmark tree
One tree
One tree
Run rabbit, run
Run rabbit, run
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Elvis
Shuffl'n



Joined: 09 Jun 2004
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Location: del Boca Vista
Elvis
Shuffl'n
PostSun Mar 16, 2008 7:48 pm 
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Cool trip Opus - thanks for sharing.

I've been eyeing that lookout for a couple years - this is the first winter report on it I've seen

Great Hoar frost & roof photo!

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"Ill habits gather unseen degrees, as brooks make rivers, rivers run to seas."  ~John Dryden
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Middle E
no more moustache



Joined: 10 Feb 2008
Posts: 432 | TRs
Location: Seattle, WA
Middle E
no more moustache
PostSun Mar 16, 2008 8:22 pm 
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Wow, that's even more of a white-out than yesterday on Mt. Washington!  Congratulations on actually finding the lookout.  At least you had a few glimpses of blue at the end... up.gif

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naturealbeing
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Joined: 04 Dec 2004
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naturealbeing
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PostSun Mar 16, 2008 8:56 pm 
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Opus, I always wondered what that place looked like in the winter under a bunch of snow. I can stop wondering now thanks to your intrepid group of snowplowaholics! Great job on a fun trip, to bad about being cloaked in the clouds, there's always next time.

The first time I went up there was when the road was still gated at the bridge, it was close to 18 miles RT I think. Took my mountain bike on a 90+ degree day and baked all the way. When I got to the trail I set my bike down and hiked the rest of the way. About a 1/4 mile from the lookout I came across a black bear eating blue berries. I decided to take a lunch break myself and see if he/she would move on. No such luck, so after lunch I just pussy footed it up the ridge and onto the E facing slope to avoid said black bear. All clear on the way out. Stopped a number of times and took a dip in the drainages along the road. There's some really nice natural rock tubs to soak in up there.

Cheers!
Richard
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TrailPair
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Joined: 17 Apr 2005
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TrailPair
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PostMon Mar 17, 2008 7:16 am 
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This has to be one of the nicest ridges we have done in the winter. We are looking forward to trying it again when there are views!
Bob
Bob
Jim K
Jim K
Walking on clouds
Walking on clouds
Close to summit
Close to summit
Buried Lookout
Buried Lookout
Floating down
Floating down
Bob
Bob

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Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
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Location: Welcome Pass
Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver
PostMon Mar 17, 2008 7:35 am 
Cloud 9
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Thanks for the great report, Opus.  I'm always happy to let you be the first to the summit (or, over the edge!!!)  lol.gif   Great trip - and far better than taking the road - which would have added many, many miles!  Not too pleasant on top with the sleet or pellet snow hitting us - it was my motivation for getting down in half the time it took us to get up!  A few pics.
Fiber for the trip
Fiber for the trip
The start of our expedition
The start of our expedition
Trail maker for the vertically challenged
Trail maker for the vertically challenged
Trail markers for very short people
Trail markers for very short people
Bruce heading up the more of the ridge
Bruce heading up the more of the ridge

and no trip would be complete without the obligatory Jim K point
Jim thinks he sees the Lookout
Jim thinks he sees the Lookout
Heading to where?
Heading to where?
Opus headed toward Lookout - we think
Opus headed toward Lookout - we think
Opus on top of the Lookout
Opus on top of the Lookout
Snow mutt
Snow mutt
Bob showing Gusto the 2-legged roll
Bob showing Gusto the 2-legged roll
Coming down a steep section - sans snowshoes
Coming down a steep section - sans snowshoes
Back on the Beckler Road
Back on the Beckler Road
End of the road - or at least end of the trail
End of the road - or at least end of the trail

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Opus
Wannabe



Joined: 04 Mar 2006
Posts: 3549 | TRs
Location: The big rock candy mountain
Opus
Wannabe
PostMon Mar 17, 2008 8:23 am 
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Sadie's Driver wrote:
Thanks for the great report, Opus.  I'm always happy to let you be the first to the summit (or, over the edge!!!)  lol.gif

Hah!  I didn't  notice how far back everyone was staying while I crossed that invisible ridge to the lookout!  What confidence in my snowshoeing!  huh.gif  clown.gif
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lookout bob
WTA proponent.....



Joined: 12 Apr 2005
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Location: wta work while in between lookouts
lookout bob
WTA proponent.....
PostMon Mar 17, 2008 9:39 am 
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so Opus....how do I get you guys to snowshoe up to Kelly Butte and let me know if it's o.k??? suuure.gif

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"Altitude is its own reward"
John Jerome ( from "On Mountains")
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JimK
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JimK
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PostMon Mar 17, 2008 12:00 pm 
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More detailed captions for each photo are at the report on my site:  Evergreen Mountain Report


Originally we were planning on Jim Hill Mountain. Trail Pair were planning on Evergreen Mountain. More snow fell during the week than expected so we switched to Evergreen. Suzanne, David, and I met at the 65th Street Park and Ride at 6:30 AM. We planned to meet at the trailhead at 8:30 but we were way ahead of schedule. Joanna and Bruce were already there and Bob and Kolleen were right behind us as we arrived at about 8:00 AM. Nikolai and his friend were the only ones missing.

We waited until 8:35 then we chose to get moving. The usual route is via the old abandoned trail. It starts several miles up the Rapid River Road. Joanna and Bruce went up that way several weeks ago. They had deep unconsolidated snow and made it high on the ridge before heading down. On the way down they chose to leave the old route and headed straight down the ridge. They found a route marked with pink ribbons.

Parking Lot
Parking Lot
Rapid River Bridge
Rapid River Bridge

The plan this day was to ascend straight up the ridge. There is room for 5 or 6 cars at a small plowed lot where the Rapid River and Johnson Ridge Roads turn off the Beckler River Road. We followed the main road across the bridge over the Rapid River then put on snowshoes and headed up. Earlier in the week the forecast looked pretty good. Partly clear sky. By Saturday it started to look worse. It was completely cloudy and just above freezing when we started.

Right after leaving the road we found a pink ribbon. They continued all the way up. The snow was continuous but not deep. With snowshoes we did not posthole much at all. The route started gentle then steepened. It became pretty steep but never too steep. We climbed steadily. Slow but very direct. We started at 1387' and the summit is 5587'. A nice round 4200' of net gain. TOPO software showed our route to be a little less than 3 1/2 miles. There were even a few ups and downs on the ridge. That is steep.

Joanna
Joanna
Open Forest
Open Forest
Snowy Bump
Snowy Bump

The slope became a more defined ridge and after some 1600' of gain the grade eased a little. We reached an old road here. We crossed that one or other roads several times. At about 3300" we took a food break on a section of road. I wanted to keep moving so I went out ahead. I gained about 300' to another road when the group caught up. In the trees the fresh snow was minimal but out in the open it was deeper.

Road Crossing
Road Crossing
A Little View
A Little View

Above this last road we were more in the open. A trench began to form and I was glad we had as many folks as we had to trade off the lead. Bruce did much of the trail breaking along this stretch.. We had some peek a boo views over to Johnson Ridge but mostly it was just clouds. After the steep first 2000' it was a nice break to have gentler terrain. We continued up then had a short drop to a saddle near 4250'. We could see that it was time for more steep climbing from here.

Lone Snowshoer
Lone Snowshoer
Flat Then Steepr
Flat Then Steepr
Johnson Ridge
Johnson Ridge
Gentler Grade
Gentler Grade
Kolleen
Kolleen
Better View
Better View

Joanna and Bruce had made it up another 500' on this section before they had to turn around on their previous trip. Above that we had no information. The ridge started broad and began to narrow. Visibility dropped as we were now in the clouds. I could barely see the steep edge of the ridge to our right. Even the narrowest section of ridge was wide enough for comfort. Steep slope on the left and a small bit of cornice on the right.

Folks had hear the barking of dogs for some time so we figured Nikolai was catching up with us. Not too far above the saddle Nikolai and his dogs came into view. The entire group was finally together.

I took another lead on the steepest section. Sinking in 6 - 10 inches with each step was hard work but provided reasonably secure steps. At about 4850' the grade eased. Now we had a more gentle ridge with some trees again. There were also a a number of old silvered snags as well. We hit a high point at about 5500' only to descend to another saddle. Visibility dropped again and it became hard to see the right side of the ridge though it was only a few feet away. A step off there would lead to a long unplanned glissade.

Tuning Fork Tree
Tuning Fork Tree
Very Narrow Ridge
Very Narrow Ridge
Ridge Flattens
Ridge Flattens
Forest Resumes
Forest Resumes
Hoar Frost
Hoar Frost
More Frost
More Frost
Short Break
Short Break
Getting Close
Getting Close

The ridge steepened again. We knew we were getting close but could not see much of anything. David was out ahead as we worked our way up the last bit. The GPS and altimeters said we were there but we saw nothing but white ground and white sky merging together. The ridge dropped and David could not tell if it was a long drop off or just a short one. He poked the snow and air before moving slowly ahead. Ironically, we were within 100' of the lookout building.

Eagle eyed members of the group spied the building though with glasses and sunglasses on my visibility was very limited. We approached the summit to find the lookout was 90% buried. Only a little bit of one corner was above the snow. I really want to come back in the summer to see just what it looks like without snow. We broke out clothing and food for a quick summit stay.

That's It?
That's It?
Final Ridge
Final Ridge
Evergreen Lookout
Evergreen Lookout
Minimal Visibility
Minimal Visibility

It began to snow or drop ice pellets. The wind picked up and it was pretty darn cold to be standing around. Suzanne and I headed down first as our hands were very cold. We saw David walk to the top of the lookout roof. It was more across than up and onto. After we left most of the others did the same. It took us 4:30 to ascend a scant 3 1/2 miles. We only took a few breaks and kept up a steady pace. I was surprised it took as long as it did.

The trip down was much faster and for the most part much easier. I was a little nervous about descending the steepest section of ridge with unconsolidated snow over a harder crust but it proved to be no problem. Of course, after we dropped 1000' there were some small sun breaks. They did not last long. We did get a few partial views across to the other side of the Beckler River.

Stay Right
Stay Right
Kolleen & Bob
Kolleen & Bob
Shades Of Gray
Shades Of Gray
Clearer
Clearer
Valley Far Below
Valley Far Below
Wild Sky Peaks
Wild Sky Peaks
More Of Ridge
More Of Ridge
Easy Walking
Easy Walking
Open Ridge Walking
Open Ridge Walking

We zoomed down to the last road crossing where the grade steepened sharply. The snow was thinner here and it was much warmer than on our ascent. Some folks took off their snowshoes and the rest of us did a little lower. The thin but mostly firm morning snow was now soft slop. Worse still we had numerous post holes that were at times thigh deep. I had to go slow as any step could leave me with one leg buried deep.

This was in some ways harder than the steep ascent. It was faster but very much hard work. At long last we popped out onto the Beckler Road and were quickly back at our cars. It took us only 2:30 to descend from the summit. For the day it was 7 miles in 7 hours with about 4500' of  total elevation gain.. It left us all anxious to see what the views are like from the long ridge walk on a sunny day.

Rapid River
Rapid River

This was the second week in a row we took a very short summer hike to a lookout and make it into a very long and steep climb in the winter. Red Top Lookout was all blue sky and Evergreen was just about the opposite. Visibility was really minimal near the summit. It was a fun group and a steep but very reasonable route. At no time did anyone ever take out their ice axe. At least we did not get rained on, snow fall was short and only at the summit, and the wind was light most of the day. All in all a fun adventure to a place I had never visited.

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Hiking Northwest
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Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 1716 | TRs
Location: Welcome Pass
Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver
PostMon Mar 17, 2008 12:07 pm 
Lookout Opus
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lookout bob wrote:
so Opus....how do I get you guys to snowshoe up to Kelly Butte and let me know if it's o.k??? suuure.gif

Tell him there's a new pair of MSR Lightening Ascents waiting for him!!!   winksmile.gif

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wildernessed
viewbagger



Joined: 31 Oct 2004
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wildernessed
viewbagger
PostMon Mar 17, 2008 12:23 pm 
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up.gif Some of those pics look like our pics. Great views ! hockeygrin.gif
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Magellan
Brutally Handsome



Joined: 26 Jul 2006
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Magellan
Brutally Handsome
PostMon Mar 17, 2008 9:16 pm 
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Way to grind it out.  4500' in deep snow!?!  What a haul.
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TrailPair
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TrailPair
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PostTue Mar 18, 2008 8:44 am 
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Magellan wrote:
Way to grind it out.  4500' in deep snow!?!  What a haul.

We let K and Suzanne, break trail going up the steep stuff in the forest.  They did a fine job.  On the Ridge Bruce did his impression of a snowplow.  then the rest of us had turns breaking trail.  On a trip like this it was good to share the trail breaking duties. lol.gif

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Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 1716 | TRs
Location: Welcome Pass
Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver
PostTue Mar 18, 2008 10:30 am 
Woman's work
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TrailPair wrote:
Magellan wrote:
Way to grind it out.  4500' in deep snow!?!  What a haul.

We let K and Suzanne, break trail going up the steep stuff in the forest.  They did a fine job.  On the Ridge Bruce did his impression of a snowplow.  then the rest of us had turns breaking trail.  On a trip like this it was good to share the trail breaking duties. lol.gif

Well, although Bob is always willing to let us do "women's work," I was more than happy to let Opus be the Lemming on the summit push!!   eek.gif  embarassedlaugh.gif   s.d.

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JimK
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JimK
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PostTue Mar 18, 2008 2:26 pm 
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I have added photos to my report located half a dozen posts above this one.

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Hiking Northwest
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