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Schmidt Altitude
Whippet Entourage



Joined: 28 Mar 2007
Posts: 803 | TRs | Pics
Location: The Quah
Schmidt Altitude
Whippet Entourage
PostThu Oct 16, 2008 10:09 pm 
Dates: Saturday, October 11th through Sunday, October 12th, 2008

Crew: Yana, yukon222, dicey, Matt, wamtngal, Just Todd, Dani, Jasper, GeoTom, Schmidt Alti-Babe, Rowena, Kiefer, Schmidt Alti-Dude

Summits (in the order we climbed them): Mount Maude (9040’, #15 Bulger List, #18 400’ Prominence List), North Spectacle Butte (8080', #160t 400’ Prominence List)

Lakes (in the order we visited them): Upper Ice Lake – 7188’, Middle Ice Pond - ~7000’, Lower Ice Lake – 6822’

Total Elevation: 10,174’ gained

We knew we wanted to go larch hunting this weekend but the question was where?  Taking the recommendation of Sadie’s Driver and a few others we had decided on Wing Lake with a scramble up Black Peak on the itinerary.  Then it started snowing in the mountains.  We decided we didn’t want to travel all the way there and not bag the peak so a new location had to be decided on.  Golden Lakes? – too far a drive.   Enchantments? – too popular plus most of us had been there already this year.  Ice Lakes? – just right.

Day 1: Phelps Creek trail - Leroy Creek Trail - Leroy Basin - Ice Lakes Pass - Mount Maude - Upper Ice Lake

We gathered at the parking lot a little after 7:00AM about the same time as the Ice Box/N Spectacle Butte dayhike team.  The temperature was a balmy high 20’s so there wasn’t a ton of socializing before setting out.  We covered the 3.4 miles to the Leroy Creek trail at a brisk yet sociable pace and then started the uphill section.  We stopped for a break at a viewpoint about half way up to the Leroy Basin before continuing on.  The maintained trail ends at about 5800’ in the open Leroy Basin with in-your-face views of Seven Finger Jack looming above.  This is also where we started to encounter snow.

Rowena certifies the way is clear of evil critters
Rowena certifies the way is clear of evil critters
View of Seven Finger Jack during a break
View of Seven Finger Jack during a break
Just Todd holds court
Just Todd holds court
What we came here for
What we came here for
Dude and 7FJ
Dude and 7FJ
GeoTom and Dani in the Leroy Basin
GeoTom and Dani in the Leroy Basin

The Larch Hunters Handbook wrote:
Larches are native to much of the cooler temperate northern hemisphere, on lowlands in the far north, and high on mountains in Washington State.

From the basin we followed the boot path that swings back south under the west face of Mount Maude.  The way first traversed through a forest interspersed with green pines and golden larches.  Next, it crossed a small creek and opened into a boulder field.  In the boulders, a cairn route led us to the edge of the “Gully of Doom!!!” – a steep-sided gouge in the earth right in the middle of our path.  We crossed the gully with care but seemed to loose the route on the other side.  We eventually found it about 100-150’ higher up the hillside and then continued south on through more larches towards the obvious notch we could see in the distance.

Hiking up under Seven Finger Jack
Hiking up under Seven Finger Jack
Seven Finger Jack freshly frosted
Seven Finger Jack freshly frosted
One of these kids is doing his own thing . . .
1 label
One of these kids is doing his own thing . . .
Larch hunters
Larch hunters
A different view of 7FJ
A different view of 7FJ
Crossing the "Gully of Doom!"
Crossing the "Gully of Doom!"

Once we gained the “notch” we stopped for a lunch break.  From this point the Carne High Route continues on south.  Instead of following the path we turned east and climbed up towards the rocky cliff bands on the south ridge of Maude.  The way traversed under the cliffs on loose scree and then up to Ice Lakes Pass, about 7600’.

It's Electric!
It's Electric!
Lunch break at the notch
Lunch break at the notch
Yukon clicking away
Yukon clicking away
Yana heads up towards the cliffs
Yana heads up towards the cliffs
Glacier and Gold
Glacier and Gold
Yukon on the way to Ice Lakes Pass
Yukon on the way to Ice Lakes Pass

The Larch Hunters Handbook wrote:
The best time to hunt larch is during mating season, called the rut.  In Washington the rut typically lasts from late September through mid to late October.

The views from the pass are breathtaking with Upper Ice Lake below, the Spectacle Buttes off to the east, Mount Maude looming above to the west, and Glacier, Buck and others to the west.  From the pass, one would be tempted to traverse straight towards the south ridge of Maude but the way is rough.  Instead we dropped 400-500’ into the Upper Ice Lake Basin, dropped our full packs, and rigged up our summit packs.  Then we climbed back up to the south ridge to avoid the exposed, rocky section between the pass and the ridge.  Once on the ridge it is an easy class 2 walk-up to the summit despite the snow being up to mid calf with drifts past our knees in places.

Upper Ice Lake from the pass
Upper Ice Lake from the pass
Wind shaped snow at Ice Lakes Pass
Wind shaped snow at Ice Lakes Pass
Which way to Maude?
Which way to Maude?
This stuff makes my toes cold
This stuff makes my toes cold
Almost to the ridge
Almost to the ridge
Dude on the south ridge of Maude
Dude on the south ridge of Maude

We joined a couple of climbers on the summit who had camped in the Leroy Basin on Friday night.  We asked them if they were camping another night and they said something like, “No way, it was 17 degrees last night!”  On the summit we noticed that everyone’s altimeters were reading 300-500 feet high.  Uh oh, the pressure was dropping.  Sure enough, when we looked west we could see a wall of clouds was heading for us!  We celebrated the dogs’ first 9000 footer, took our pics, and headed back.

Yukon heading to the summit
Yukon heading to the summit
Dicey's on top of Maude
Dicey's on top of Maude
Maude summit shot
Maude summit shot
Dude notices the clouds over Glacier are getting thicker
Dude notices the clouds over Glacier are getting thicker
Yana, GeoTom, Jasper, Kiefer, Dude, & Rowena heading back
Yana, GeoTom, Jasper, Kiefer, Dude, & Rowena heading back
Almost back to the Ice Lakes Basin
Almost back to the Ice Lakes Basin

The Larch Hunters Handbook wrote:
During the rut larches put on a color display in order to attract mates.  Brilliant gold, bronze, orange, and yellow can be seen.  If a larch is startled or senses danger it can quickly turn green to warn the rest of the herd.  This is why many people will see green larches around them while spotting more brightly colored specimens far in the distance.

We descended back down to our packs wondering what the night would bring.  At our packs we heard a loud whoop and turned to see Tom_Sjolseth and Justus S. coming over to say hi on their way back from North Spectacle Butte.  We chatted for a little bit before we parted ways, us down towards the Upper Lake, and them towards the pass.  Once at the lake, we found a relatively flat area above the lake to the south and started setting up camp.  The temperature was back in the mid 20’s as we ate dinner.  We called it a night at 8:30 and prepared for a cold nights sleep.

The Spectacle Buttes rise up in the distance
The Spectacle Buttes rise up in the distance
It keeps getting cloudier and cloudier
It keeps getting cloudier and cloudier
Commence camp setup!
Commence camp setup!
Larch at Upper Ice Lake
Larch at Upper Ice Lake

Day 1 Stats: 6568’ gain, 2618’ loss

To see all the pictures from Day 1 click here.

Day 2: Upper Ice Lake - Middle Ice Pond - Lower Ice Lake - North Spectacle Butte - Back to camp - Ice Lakes Pass - Back to trailhead

We awoke while it was still dark hearing the crunching of snow as someone from Yukon/Matt’s tent was walking around outside.  What time was it 5, 6?  Babe looked at the watch – 12:30!!!!  Crap we still had hours until sunrise, that’s what happens when you go to bed so early.  If felt warmer so I asked whoever was up what the temp was.  34 degrees answered wamtngal from the other tent over.  Seemed like everyone was up.  We tried to settle down again but sometime around 1-2AM things started to get real interesting.  The winds started blowing with some gusts hitting our tent so hard that the side would cave in and the fabric hit us in the face.  Luckily for us, we had buried the corners or our tent in the snow and covered them with rocks since the ground was too frozen for stakes.  Just Todd told us in the morning that he had to physically hold down the corners of his tent at times.

Are you sure it's only 12:30am?!?
Are you sure it's only 12:30am?!?

The Larch Hunters Handbook wrote:
It is quite common during larch season to encounter other larch hunters wearing bright orange vests and hats.  These hunters wear the larch's mating colors in order to blend in and hopefully get closer to their prey without startling them.

We finally got going around 7AM to find moody gray clouds hanging in a solid ceiling above our heads obscuring all the peaks around us.  As we ate breakfast we discussed our plan for the day.  Even though the weather was crap, most of us were game for a try of North Spectacle Butte while GeoTom, Dani, and Jasper opted to head back out (actually, Jasper voted to stay but since he wasn’t driving he had to go with his ride).

Can this water take any longer?
Can this water take any longer?
Stay away, I am skilled but cold ninja.
Stay away, I am skilled but cold ninja.

From camp we descended down a little south of the lake’s outlet stream to a small pond.  Here we took the opportunity to filter water and then headed NE towards the Lower Lake.  Along the way we stopped to take plenty of pictures of the larches around us.

Dark and menacing
Dark and menacing
Conspiring larches
Conspiring larches
Those sure are some purdy branches!
Those sure are some purdy branches!
So much orange and blue
So much orange and blue
Touch of frost
Touch of frost
To Lower Ice Lake
To Lower Ice Lake

The Larch Hunters Handbook wrote:
Male larches are called Tamaracks while the female are called Turmerics.  It is difficult to tell the sexes apart except for the fact that the tamaracks are typically larger.

At Lower Ice Lake, we crossed its outlet stream, traversed along the east shoreline and then headed east up the col west of North Spectacle Butte.  As we were taking a break at the col, Dude had Rowena in his lap since she was shivering in the wind.  Suddenly, she spotted a chipmunk and exploded out of his arms.  In the process, the back of her head connected with the orbital bone under his right eye.  Ungrateful beyotch, he’s been sporting a black eye all this week.

Sparse but vibrant
Sparse but vibrant
Whippets under cover
Whippets under cover
Perfect lighting
Perfect lighting
Boys, get out of my picture.  I was trying to shoot the larches! :P
Boys, get out of my picture.  I was trying to shoot the larches! :P
A look of desolation
A look of desolation
Panoraminator mighty action shot!
Panoraminator mighty action shot!

From the col we gained the west face of the butte.  The wind was blowing so hard that at times it necessitated crawling for forward movement.  Yana and dicey later stated that they were going to turn back just as the wind abated enough to continue.  Near the top we entered the clouds so our summit views were about 100 yards of snow covered rocks and then gray nothingness.

Hold tight, Alti-Babe!
Hold tight, Alti-Babe!
Don't worry, I won't blow away!
Don't worry, I won't blow away!
Specters on North Spectacle
Specters on North Spectacle
Summit group and headless Babe
Summit group and headless Babe

The Larch Hunters Handbook wrote:
During the rut a larch hunter will often see one dominant tamarack surround by a handful of smaller turmerics.  Often a single or a pair of younger tamaracks will hang around a little distance off from the group hoping to attract the less cautious or mischevious turmeric.

The combination of no views and biting wind meant we spent about 5 minutes at the summit before heading back down.  As we descended down out of the clouds, we could see blue sky over the Ice Lakes.  The lower we went, the nicer the day became and the clouds had completely burned off by the time we were back at the lower lake shore.

Braving the winds back down
Braving the winds back down
Rugged Dude and Row
Rugged Dude and Row
I know this is where I saw that darn chipmunk!
I know this is where I saw that darn chipmunk!
Hunting larches . . . furry critters are more our style
Hunting larches . . . furry critters are more our style
Islands in the snow and sun
Islands in the snow and sun
Dude makes his way around the lake
Dude makes his way around the lake

Matt decided he had to go for a swim in the lower lake while the rest of took blackmail pictures.  Then it was back up to the pond before the last climb up to camp.  We took many of the same pictures we took on the way in but the difference in lighting justified the shutter delay.

A dominant Tamerack taller than the rest
A dominant Tamerack taller than the rest
At the shores of Lower Ice Lake...scene of nekkid hiker island
At the shores of Lower Ice Lake...scene of nekkid hiker island
Reaching towards the sun
Reaching towards the sun
I am the mighty mountain whippet!
I am the mighty mountain whippet!
Just like glass
Just like glass
Frozen reflections
Frozen reflections
Wamtngal....or return of shovel humper?!
Wamtngal....or return of shovel humper?!
Last views of Lower Ice Lakes basin
Last views of Lower Ice Lakes basin

The Larch Hunters Handbook wrote:
After the rut is over the larches lose their golden coats and prepare for winter.  They will enter a tupor in which their body heat lowers to match that of their surroundings and metabolic processes basically come to a stand still.  They will remain in this state until the ground thaws in the spring.

By the time we made it to camp the sun was started to warm things up considerably, melting the snow. This meant we had to pack Johnny Gan style - wet and sloppy.  Once packed it was time for the long, full pack climb back up to the pass.  Instead of retracing our steps back to the notch we dropped straight down into the larch covered bowl directly below the pass intersecting the Carne High Route path.  After an intense discussion we decided we didn’t have enough lee-way time to try and complete the high route in case something happened.

More larches at Upper Ice Lake
More larches at Upper Ice Lake
Sweeping clouds, golden larches...it doesn't get much better
Sweeping clouds, golden larches...it doesn't get much better
Yes, I finally have long legs!
Yes, I finally have long legs!
Should we be running too?
Should we be running too?
Alti-Babe's Larch and Glacier shot
Alti-Babe's Larch and Glacier shot
Kiefer and Dad enjoy the views
Kiefer and Dad enjoy the views

We headed up to the notch and north back towards the Leroy Basin.  We re-crossed the Gully of Doom without incidence and entered the forest.  The amount of snow that had melted was quite noticeable and we wished we had more time for an attempt of 7FJ.  The Leroy Creek trail seemed much steeper on the way down and all our knees were aching by the time we reached the Phelps Creek trail.  Finally, it was 3.5 miles of pounding trail back to the car.

Electric Leroy Basin
Electric Leroy Basin
Wait up Uncle Yukon, our legs are even shorter than mom's!
Wait up Uncle Yukon, our legs are even shorter than mom's!
Gathered by the gully of doom
Gathered by the gully of doom
Don't worry, sis', I'll keep watch for furry creatures
Don't worry, sis', I'll keep watch for furry creatures
Amber is the color of your energy
Amber is the color of your energy
Tree trifecta
Tree trifecta

Day 2 Stats: 3606’ gain, 7496’ loss (2851’ gain/loss from Upper Ice Lake to N.S.B and back)

To see all the pictures from Day 2 click here.

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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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yukon222
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Joined: 12 Mar 2007
Posts: 1884 | TRs | Pics
yukon222
Member
PostThu Oct 16, 2008 10:10 pm 
Crystal clear early morning skies made the long climb up to Leroy Basin enjoyable because the scenery "forced" many momentary photo breaks.   smile.gif The snow didn't cause any problems other than requiring careful footing in a few places where it covered loose talus.

Wish the skies had stayed mostly clear for a sunrise or sunset at the lake but one can't always hit the perfect combination of company, weather and scenery.  I'll keep trying.   winksmile.gif
OK trailhead view, I guess...
OK trailhead view, I guess...
pano1 - looking west from Leroy Basin
pano1 - looking west from Leroy Basin
DSC_7098 - l to r: Kiefer, Rowena, Dani, Jasper & GeoTom
DSC_7098 - l to r: Kiefer, Rowena, Dani, Jasper & GeoTom
pano9 - ice creek ridge
pano9 - ice creek ridge
pano12 - Lower Ice Lake & Mt Maude
pano12 - Lower Ice Lake & Mt Maude
pano15 - ice creek ridge
pano15 - ice creek ridge
pano18 - S Spectacle Butte and Lower Ice Lake outlet
pano18 - S Spectacle Butte and Lower Ice Lake outlet
pano19 - lazy outflow from Upper Ice Lake
pano19 - lazy outflow from Upper Ice Lake
pano20 - Base camp at Upper Ice Lake
pano20 - Base camp at Upper Ice Lake
pano21 - heading home
pano21 - heading home
pano22 - heading back down into Leroy Basin
pano22 - heading back down into Leroy Basin

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the Zachster
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Joined: 17 Jan 2007
Posts: 4771 | TRs | Pics
Location: dog training
the Zachster
Member
PostThu Oct 16, 2008 10:22 pm 
That is such a gorgeous area, especially with the snow. We went in from the Entiat one year and saw no-one for 4 days. Just blue water and golden larches. I remember it being very windy at night as we camped at the Lower Ice lake. The Upper was so desolate...I can imagine the wind could get pretty exciting up there! Sounds like a fun and memorable trip. Awesome photos!

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"May I always be the kind of person my dog thinks I am"
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GeoTom
Custom Title



Joined: 19 May 2005
Posts: 3205 | TRs | Pics
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GeoTom
Custom Title
PostThu Oct 16, 2008 10:24 pm 
Nice looking trip guys  up.gif

Oh, wait, I was there for most of it  doh.gif

Excellent photos as usual. All of mine on Flickr are viewable here, if anyone is so inclined.

A few I liked:
Buck Mountain (2009?)
Buck Mountain (2009?)
Maude and larches
Maude and larches
Ascent
Ascent
Summit wisps
Summit wisps
Yana and Glacier Peak
Yana and Glacier Peak
Alti-Dude and his girls
Alti-Dude and his girls
Upper Ice Lake and Spectacle Buttes
Upper Ice Lake and Spectacle Buttes
Camp
Camp
I iz warm now
I iz warm now
Waiting for breakfast
Waiting for breakfast
Needles
Needles
Waiting for the one with the car keys
Waiting for the one with the car keys

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Schmidt Alti-Dude
4th class poster



Joined: 06 Jul 2007
Posts: 1362 | TRs | Pics
Location: Looking for Adventure 201!
Schmidt Alti-Dude
4th class poster
PostThu Oct 16, 2008 10:46 pm 
Hey, my 1,000th post.  Couldn't think of a more appropriate time.

Here are some photos for those of who are more of a panoramic persuation.  Yes, I went way overboard.  It took way to long to stitch them all (and this is not all of them)!

Day 1:
Leroy Basin
Leroy Basin
Hiking through the Leroy Basin
Hiking through the Leroy Basin
Underneath Maude
Underneath Maude
Looking over to Ice Lake Pass
Looking over to Ice Lake Pass
So much scenery to photograph
So much scenery to photograph
At Ice Lake Pass
At Ice Lake Pass
Descending into the Upper Ice Lake Basin
Descending into the Upper Ice Lake Basin
View east from the south ridge of Maude
View east from the south ridge of Maude
View west from the Maude summit
View west from the Maude summit
Heading to Upper Ice Lake
Heading to Upper Ice Lake
Mount Maude above Upper Ice
Mount Maude above Upper Ice

Day 2:

Down at the middle pond
Down at the middle pond
Looking down the valley from the Ice Lakes
Looking down the valley from the Ice Lakes
Almost to Lower Ice Lake
Almost to Lower Ice Lake
At the col below North Spectacle Butte
At the col below North Spectacle Butte
Back down from the summit of NSB
Back down from the summit of NSB
Views from the col on the way back
Views from the col on the way back
Mount Maude above Lower Ice Lake
Mount Maude above Lower Ice Lake
Babe leads the way back to camp
Babe leads the way back to camp
North and South Spectacle Buttes
North and South Spectacle Buttes
Back at the middle pond
Back at the middle pond
The background for our camp
The background for our camp
Looking west form Ice Lake Pass
Looking west form Ice Lake Pass
Upper Ice Lake and Spectacle Buttes from the pass
Upper Ice Lake and Spectacle Buttes from the pass
Glacier Peak pano
Glacier Peak pano
The larchy bowl below Ice Lake Pass
The larchy bowl below Ice Lake Pass
On the trail out
On the trail out

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Anything stated by me in no way reflects the attitudes or opinions of my wife
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Ingunn
Hiking Viking



Joined: 01 Feb 2008
Posts: 1751 | TRs | Pics
Location: Redmond
Ingunn
Hiking Viking
PostThu Oct 16, 2008 11:21 pm 
Aaah, I've been waiting for this one. Excellent, excellent trip, report, and photos - I love the panos in this one; the ones with people in them really stand out.

It looks coooold. And the mountaineering whippets are looking almost as buff as that creepy steroid whippet someone posted a photo of a while ago biggrin.gif

Did you catch a turmeric to mount on your wall?

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Go Jo
of the lykkens



Joined: 08 Jun 2003
Posts: 2248 | TRs | Pics
Location: Around The Bend
Go Jo
of the lykkens
PostThu Oct 16, 2008 11:21 pm 
Schmidt Altitude wrote:
Hiking up under Seven Finger Jack
Hiking up under Seven Finger Jack

Looks like the best of all worlds, great report & fantastic photos.

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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 30 Jan 2007
Posts: 4272 | TRs | Pics
Location: Shoreline
Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostThu Oct 16, 2008 11:23 pm 
Nice job everyone.  That was a great trip.

I'm still sorting my photos.  Working on culling it down from 798.  Changing weather, changing locations, and beautiful scenery makes for lots of great views.

Looking at some of the photos from the SLR shooters, I'm becoming more convinced that I've gotta move up to a camera that can shoot RAW, so I can get my colors better balanced like yours.

By the time all participants have posted, I'll bet this TR will set the record for most photos.

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“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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Dani
Kimtah's Mom



Joined: 01 Jul 2008
Posts: 136 | TRs | Pics
Dani
Kimtah's Mom
PostFri Oct 17, 2008 7:44 am 
Wow love the pics!

It was great meeting people I have been hearing so much about.  I had a great time but it was a bit too cold for me.  Maybe go back next summer!? campfire.gif

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Keeping GeoTom in line since 1998
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Opus
Wannabe



Joined: 04 Mar 2006
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Location: The big rock candy mountain
Opus
Wannabe
PostFri Oct 17, 2008 8:11 am 
Dani wrote:
Wow love the pics!

It was great meeting people I have been hearing so much about.  I had a great time but it was a bit too cold for me.  Maybe go back next summer!? campfire.gif

I think there's a reason they call them "Ice" lakes.  We froze even in mid August up there!

Great pics all.

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wildernessed
viewbagger



Joined: 31 Oct 2004
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wildernessed
viewbagger
PostFri Oct 17, 2008 8:19 am 
up.gif Spectacular scenery as we transition into the "snowy season".

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Living in the Anthropocene
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GeoTom
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GeoTom
Custom Title
PostFri Oct 17, 2008 8:22 am 
Quote:
We crossed the gully with care but seemed to loose the route on the other side.  We eventually found it about 100-150’ higher up the hillside

Ahem. dicey, Yana, wamtngal, Jasper and I found the high route right away. The rest of you losers* stayed low for a while.


Quote:
We tried to settle down again but sometime around 1-2AM things started to get real interesting.  The winds started blowing with some gusts hitting our tent so hard that the side would cave in and the fabric hit us in the face.

That wind woke me up from a nice dream about a pizza.  rant.gif



*I mean losers in the nicest possible wayhockeygrin.gif

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wamtngal
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wamtngal
Member
PostFri Oct 17, 2008 8:45 am 
Yay for a great trip! I have finally culled through my photos and will hopefully have them posted tonight...this trip was definitely a photographer's dream - at times moody skies, sun, snow, peaks, larches, lakes and photogenic friends.  up.gif  up.gif

This trip again refreshed my memory on why I need to get some down booties and waterproof boots though...especially before the winter trips begin.  biggrin.gif

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Opinions expressed here are my own.
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Backpacker Joe
NWH Joe-Bob



Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 23858 | TRs | Pics
Location: Cle Elum
Backpacker Joe
NWH Joe-Bob
PostFri Oct 17, 2008 9:52 am 
Fantastic pics and another great trip from everyone.   up.gif

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"If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide."

— Abraham Lincoln
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Jasper
Cascade Snow Pig



Joined: 13 Apr 2008
Posts: 350 | TRs | Pics
Location: Burrowing in the snow
Jasper
Cascade Snow Pig
PostFri Oct 17, 2008 10:04 am 
4 paws up for this trip and to dad for carrying an extra sleeping bag for me  up.gif  up.gif  up.gif  up.gif

And Rowena didn't even snap at me this time.  hockeygrin.gif

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Stout
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