Forum Index > Trip Reports > Stabbed by color, Stiletto-Switchblade-Hock-Twisp 9/27-29/08
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 4070 | TRs
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostSun Oct 05, 2008 10:02 pm 
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Dates: September 27-29, 2008
Destination: Dagger Lake 5508, Hock Mtn 7750, Twisp Mtn 7161, Stiletto Lake 6795, Switchblade Peak 7740, Stiletto Peak 7660 (USGS McAlester Mtn)
Party: Matt, Dicey, Cartman

For combo fall colors – red, gold, & green all together -  the meadows high on the south side of Stiletto peak are the best I’ve ever seen.
And this was still a week before the larches had turned gold.

As we traversed along the top edge of the meadows, the colors were stop-you-in-your-tracks, jaw-dropping, tongue-hanging-out gorgeous.
The low autumn sun superbly highlighted the colors.  As it echoed our traverse in its arc across the southern sky, it lit up everything in luminescent vivid color.

Bright red blueberries were mixed with darker green heather and white rocks carpeting the ground below, dark peaks were silhouetted against the sky above, and luminescent ranks of larches were shining brilliant emerald in their transition to gold as they marched across the horizon between.

Bright ranks of larches
Bright ranks of larches
Hiking through the colors
Hiking through the colors
Stilletto Meadows pan looking toward Hock
Stilletto Meadows pan looking toward Hock
Stiletto Meadows pan looking toward Lincoln
Stiletto Meadows pan looking toward Lincoln

Itinerary:
Saturday:  Hike from Bridge Creek TH to Dagger Lake, via PCT & Twisp Pass trail.  Side trip to Twisp Pass.
Sunday: Scramble Hock & Twisp Peaks.  Move camp to Stiletto Lake.
Monday: Scramble Switchblade & Stiletto.  Exit via Stiletto Spur trail.

Stiletto Route Map
Stiletto Route Map
Stiletto Vicinity Map
Stiletto Vicinity Map

Saturday

We started from the Bridge Creek trailhead (4400 ft) at 2pm, 9.5 hours after departing from Mountlake Terrace.  (I'll explain the unhappy events at the Canadian border in a separate thread later.  For now, let’s just say that the Canadian national anthem is far too melodic.  It sticks in your head all weekend, provoking curses of frustration when it reminds you of the border rejection, and provoking your companions to demand that you quit whining about it.)

Anyway, we hiked the PCT and Twisp Pass trail to Dagger Lake.  The lake itself turned out to be a muck-bottomed basin surrounded by a grassy marsh.  Dicey and I briefly hiked a mile further up to Twisp Pass to check the view.  Cartman spent the whole time gathering sticks so that we could have a fire in the fire ring of the campsite’s cook area.

Enough signs?
Enough signs?
Big National Park sign
Big National Park sign
Dagger Lake (viewed later from Twisp)
Dagger Lake (viewed later from Twisp)
Some color at Twisp Pass
Some color at Twisp Pass
Sunset from Twisp Pass, with reflection in Dagger Lake
Sunset from Twisp Pass, with reflection in Dagger Lake
Toasty campfire on a chilly night
Toasty campfire on a chilly night

Saturday Statistics:
TH 4500, junction 3650, Dagger Lake 5508
In 7 miles, 1900 cumulative gain


Sunday

We ascended Hock (7750) by traveling southwest to the huge boulder-filled basin below the peak, ascending talus and meadows to the 6800-foot col on Hock’s northwest ridge, and following the ridge to the summit.  To our pleasant surprise, the basin and ridges were lined with bands of larches, mostly just beginning to change colors, but still a bright and pretty sight.

Crossing the bouldery basin below Hock
Crossing the bouldery basin below Hock
Twisp from Hock basin
Twisp from Hock basin
Soft shades of gold and green
Soft shades of gold and green
Ascending toward Hock NW col
Ascending toward Hock NW col

Hock Summit Views:

Summit group
Summit group
Dagger Creek Valley
Dagger Creek Valley
Hock Talus Basin, Dagger Lake & Twisp Mtn
Hock Talus Basin, Dagger Lake & Twisp Mtn
Kangaroo & Silverstar area
Kangaroo & Silverstar area
Twisp Lake
Twisp Lake
Hock summit pan looking west
Hock summit pan looking west

To reach Twisp Mtn (71610) , we descended back down Hock’s NW ridge, traversed east across the talus basin circa 6000 feet, and ascended the open red meadows on the righthand side of Twisp’s west face.

Twisp Mtn – we went up the righthand red meadow and down the lefthand red meadow
Twisp Mtn – we went up the righthand red meadow and down the lefthand red meadow
Larch’s on Hock’s NW ridge
Larch’s on Hock’s NW ridge
Meadows and talus descending.
Meadows and talus descending.
Larches at east end of Hock’s basin
Larches at east end of Hock’s basin
Larches & Hock’s summit crest
Larches & Hock’s summit crest
Bright green needles
Bright green needles
Ascending Twisp
Ascending Twisp
Bright blueberry leaves (but no berries)
Bright blueberry leaves (but no berries)

We enjoyed another summit break and then descended Twisp’s west ridge, down more red meadows and back into the forest.

Dagger Lake, Stiletto Lake, & Stiletto from Twisp summit
Dagger Lake, Stiletto Lake, & Stiletto from Twisp summit
Twisp descent meadows
Twisp descent meadows

We decided that  “Stiletto Lake” 6795. perched high in its rock bowl, looked to be a much more inspiring camp than Dagger Lake, down in its marshy valley.  We hiked partway to Twisp Pass, then just followed meadows upward to the lake.  (Later we realized there is a distinct way trail all the way from Twisp Pass to the lake, which we could have intersected and used.)  The lake was crystal clear water bounded mostly by the steep gray rocky cirque of Jacknife & Switchblade, but opening out to larches, meadows, and views on its south side.  East of the lake, we found comfortable camps hidden in the trees, thus avoiding damage to the meadows at the lake’s outet.

Stiletto Lake perched in its high bowl between Jackknife & Switchblade
Stiletto Lake perched in its high bowl between Jackknife & Switchblade
Ascending from Dagger Lake to Stiletto meadows
Ascending from Dagger Lake to Stiletto meadows
Hiking part of the Stiletto meadows way trail
Hiking part of the Stiletto meadows way trail
Larches below the basin of Stiletto Lake
Larches below the basin of Stiletto Lake

The lake had already fallen into shade, and I watched shadows climb the eastern hillsides as the sun finished its descent.

Shadows on Gilbert
Shadows on Gilbert
Shadows along the North Fork Twisp River
Shadows along the North Fork Twisp River
Last light on Lincoln  & Crescent
Last light on Lincoln  & Crescent

The night fell dark and moonless.  But the lake’s lambent surface still gleamed faintly with reflections of the rock walls above, rippled by the waves of a soft unfelt breeze.  Lying back on the rocks, we watched the stars above burn fiercely distant in the black depths of the clear sky.  A few shooting stars added quick streaks.  With the North Star over Switchblade, the Big Dipper rotated slowly downward to scoop into the col at the head of the lake.  A beautiful alpine night – sky and stars, rock and water.

Sunday Statistics:
Hock & Twisp from Dagger Lake, 8 hrs, 5.2 miles, 3500 gain.
Dagger Lake to Stiletto Lake, 1:30 hrs, 1.7 miles, 1300 gain


Monday

Morning brought golden alpenglow highlighting the western peaks and climbing down the rock walls to the lake and our camp.

Morning alpenglow (Hock, McAlester, McGregor, etc)
Morning alpenglow (Hock, McAlester, McGregor, etc)
Morning light on the lake
Morning light on the lake
Stiletto Lake Sunrise pan
Stiletto Lake Sunrise pan
Light & Shadow at the col
Light & Shadow at the col

Back at camp, the larches began to glow and the pikas came out to greet us.

Morning Tea
Morning Tea
Camp
Camp
Pika
Pika
Pika & larches
Pika & larches

To ascend Switchblade (7740), we followed the big talus field north, then turned upward as soon as we could get past the cliffs above, followed gullies till we could move right to the ridge crest circa 7400, and followed the crest to the summit.  The gullies were 3rd class with some loose rock.

Larches below Switchblade
Larches below Switchblade
Switchblade route
Switchblade route

As we ascended, the lake became a lake became a bowl of blue hues showing its rocky shallows and depths.

Stiletto Lake, camp area at far left
Stiletto Lake, camp area at far left
Stiletto Lake outlet
Stiletto Lake outlet
Stiletto lake & Hock Mtn
Stiletto lake & Hock Mtn
Depths of Stiletto Lake
Depths of Stiletto Lake

Switchblade Summit Views:

Dagger & Stiletto Lakes from Switchblade summit
Dagger & Stiletto Lakes from Switchblade summit
Pointiest Crest in the Cascades – Silverstar, Kangaroo Ridge, Snagooth Ridge
17 labels
Pointiest Crest in the Cascades – Silverstar, Kangaroo Ridge, Snagooth Ridge
Golden Horn, Holliway, Ballard, Azurite, Tower
Golden Horn, Holliway, Ballard, Azurite, Tower
Copper Pass
Copper Pass

Back at camp, I seized my chance to finally have a sunny day for an alpine swim.  The water was cold, but felt it wonderfully refreshing to swim in such a beautiful place, floating in a bowl of crystal clear liquid suspended between rock and sky.

Swimming
Swimming
Refreshed
Refreshed
Companions & shoreline amid the larches
Companions & shoreline amid the larches
Shadow on rocks under the water in a lake reflecting a mountain
Shadow on rocks under the water in a lake reflecting a mountain

Then we traversed a mile westward to reach the col west of Stiletto’s named summit.  The meadows were so gorgeous I felt they were pulling the eyes right out of my head.  I could only stumble forward and stare in admiration.  The photos really don't do it justice.  Around every corner, a new composition of colors would catch my eye and stop me.  Just taking a few steps would cause the sun to backlight a new slope of blueberries in raging red or a stand of larches in viridescent green.  (I just made up that word - it's a combination of verdant and irridescent, for the the needles glowing with living emerald light.)

Larches looking toward Twisp Pass
Larches looking toward Twisp Pass
Trail along the meadows
Trail along the meadows
Hiking along the trail
Hiking along the trail
Meadows, Twisp & Hock
Meadows, Twisp & Hock
Red & white
Red & white
Green & gold
Green & gold
Looking back toward Lincoln & Twisp Pass
Looking back toward Lincoln & Twisp Pass
More meadows
More meadows

To ascend Stiletto (7660), we left our packs circa 6500 feet below Stiletto’s east col.  We hiked up meadows and bouders to about 100 feet below the col, then traversed left and took the first long gully slanting upward toward the summit.  The gully was mostly 3rd class, with a a few brief harder moves, but not exposed.  On the summit, we found an old Mountaineers register can, originally placed in 1933 by REI member #1 Lloyd Anderson, with a note from Don Goodman explaining its history.

Our route takes the first left-slanting gully left of the col
Our route takes the first left-slanting gully left of the col
The only fully yellow larches in the area
The only fully yellow larches in the area
Mountaineers Register can #144 and note
Mountaineers Register can #144 and note

Stiletto Summit Views:

Copper Creek valley
Copper Creek valley
Another view of the pointy peaks
Another view of the pointy peaks
Black Peak & Ragged Ridge
Black Peak & Ragged Ridge
Cartman & Dicey on Stiletto summit
Cartman & Dicey on Stiletto summit
Matt on Stiletto summit
Matt on Stiletto summit

To exit, we traversed further west to reach the col between the Stiletto Lookout spur and Point 6420. Directly below our Stiletto were some large grassy meadows with water still running.

Descending below Stiletto east col
Descending below Stiletto east col
More red on the way down
More red on the way down
Watered meadows below Stiletto
Watered meadows below Stiletto
Pumping water
Pumping water

Further west, we had to sidehill around a bowl of trees to get to the last col.

Traversing the last bowl of trees
Traversing the last bowl of trees
The final col
The final col
Meadow Garden arrangement 1
Meadow Garden arrangement 1
Meadow Garden arrangement 2
Meadow Garden arrangement 2
Meadow Garden arrangement 3
Meadow Garden arrangement 3
Fir trees replacing the larches
Fir trees replacing the larches

At the col, we found no trail.  We descended along drainage stream to 5800, then found the trail by traversing far to our right.  The trail was making long switchbacks further to the right, north of where the maps seemed to show it.  I think perhaps it comes up higher on the flank of the lookout spur.  Once on the trail, we made easy progress back to Bridge Creek, and gained the 500 feet back uphill to the trailhead, arriving at 7pm

Stiletto Spur Trail junction
Stiletto Spur Trail junction

Back at the car, this trip’s mouse had left the trunk alone, but shredded some crackers I accidentally left in the back seat.

Monday Statistics:
Swtichblade 1000 gain from lake.  Stiletto 1200 gain from meadow.  Lake to TH  6.5 miles, 800 cumulative gain.


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“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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Dayhike Mike
Bad MFKer



Joined: 02 Mar 2003
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Dayhike Mike
Bad MFKer
PostMon Oct 06, 2008 12:01 am 
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Nice pics, Matt! up.gif up.gif Looks like you guys had prime conditions!

BTW - I've never met a person who's had more problems with mice than you. What is your car made out of anyway? Swiss cheese? eek.gif

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"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
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wildernessed
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Joined: 31 Oct 2004
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wildernessed
viewbagger
PostMon Oct 06, 2008 7:07 am 
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Awesome Matt, I've been looking at that area, great fall colors and pics. I am waiting for the "indian summer", but remember last year the 2-3' of snow at Larck Lakes towards the end of October, so we will see.  hockeygrin.gif

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Living in the Anthropocene
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Go Jo
of the lykkens



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Go Jo
of the lykkens
PostMon Oct 06, 2008 8:16 am 
Re: Hock, Twisp, Switchblade, Stiletto, 9/27 – 9/29/08
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Matt wrote:
Back at camp, I seized my chance to finally have a sunny day for an alpine swim.  The water was cold, but felt it wonderfully refreshing to swim in such a beautiful place, floating in a bowl of crystal clear liquid suspended between rock and sky.
Swimming
Swimming

Totally crazy but apparently clean! Well done trip and TR recap, thanks for the picture show ~Jo
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RichP
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Joined: 13 Jul 2006
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RichP
sin rumbo
PostMon Oct 06, 2008 8:29 am 
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Great backup plan. Whenever I head out, I usually have an alternate plan, just in case. So far, I've never had to use the alternate, but I'm sure I will at some point.
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Hiker Mama
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PostMon Oct 06, 2008 8:58 am 
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Poetic and scenic.  What more could a reader ask for?  Thanks, Matt.
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Jason Hummel
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PostMon Oct 06, 2008 1:51 pm 
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Love the shadows. Thx.  up.gif  up.gif I really need to get up and hike up there!
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kyle d
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PostTue Oct 07, 2008 5:24 pm 
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Gorgeous pictures of Fall colors.
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bobbi
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bobbi
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PostTue Oct 07, 2008 5:37 pm 
Re: Stabbed by colors on Stiletto-Switchblade-Hock-Twisp 9/2
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The night fell dark and moonless.  But the lake’s lambent surface still gleamed faintly with reflections of the rock walls above, rippled by the waves of a soft unfelt breeze.  Lying back on the rocks, we watched the stars above burn fiercely distant in the black depths of the clear sky.  A few shooting stars added quick streaks.  With the North Star over Switchblade, the Big Dipper rotated slowly downward to scoop into the col at the head of the lake.  A beautiful alpine night – sky and stars, rock and water.


how poetic! up.gif  up.gif

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bobbi ૐ

"Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting.  So…get on your way!" - Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss
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GeoTom
Custom Title



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PostTue Oct 07, 2008 5:56 pm 
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Very nice! I always enjoy looking at your photos and reading your words.


This caught my eye though (highlights are mine):

Quote:
To reach Twisp Mtn (71610)

Good lord Matt! You just discovered the world's highest mountain!  clown.gif

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Eric
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PostTue Oct 07, 2008 6:10 pm 
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Nice TR. But I am still curious, what happened at the border?
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Schmidt Altitude
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Schmidt Altitude
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PostTue Oct 07, 2008 7:02 pm 
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Wow, what great trip report.  Not bad for a backup plan.

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"Forest 101: These big wood stick things are called trees.  The big rocks are called mountains, and the little rocks are their babies."  Elliott from Open Season
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Yana
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Yana
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PostTue Oct 07, 2008 8:58 pm 
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Blame Canada! Blame Canada!

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PLAY SAFE! SKI ONLY IN CLOCKWISE DIRECTION! LET'S ALL HAVE FUN TOGETHER!
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Magellan
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PostTue Oct 07, 2008 9:53 pm 
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Way to go!  You guys got the most out of the weekend.  I have to admit that when I see the lineup of Matt, Dicey, Cartman I get pretty whooped up for the report.  Satisfying as usual.  up.gif
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BirdDog
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PostWed Oct 08, 2008 7:20 am 
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Fall hiking is fantastic, so are your pics.

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"There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country."
Teddy Roosevelt August 6, 1912
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Stabbed by color, Stiletto-Switchblade-Hock-Twisp 9/27-29/08
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