I keep waiting for someone else to write up the trip report... but since no one is and we never really talked about it here goes!
I saw the forecast on Tuesday, blue sky and clear! So I decided to take the day off and get out somewhere. I put out a call to Dawn Patrol, but there was no response, other than Ingunn forwarding me Matt's post about getting out. So I PM'd Matt and we agreed to meet at the 164th I-5 park and ride where I-5 and 405 meet at 7 am on Tuesday. Talk about a late start for Dawn Patrol.
Matt mentioned there were other's joining us from Seattle, but no names. Shortly after Matt and I found each other in the parking lot up drives a Subaru with Jon (who's NWHiker moniker I never did catch) and Dicey/Carla.
We loaded up and headed for Granite Falls. I've spent very little time in the North Cascades, just because of my early morning tendencies, the family and convenience of I-90. I liked riding along the tree tunnel of the mountain loop highway. We arrived at the Dickerman trail head around 9 am and changed into gear. (Carla kept bragging all day long about her super plastic boots that made her invincible). The temps were "cold", maybe 20s but not too chilly.
There was just a couple of inches of snow in the trees as we started up the trail. Patches of sunlight through the trees let us know there was a beautiful day out there above the tree line. We stopped to take off layers as the exertion warmed the soul. Around 2.5 miles just where the trail starts to break out of the trees into the upper meadows we stopped and put on our snowshoes.
Things were easy going until we broke out of the trees and made deep steps breaking trail through the meadows. Jon (and his Protestant work ethic) broke the most trail, I had to tromp past him once in the meadow to get the lead. As we came to the last 700 feet and made our way through an upper meadow the snow was almost like styrofoam, hard enough we walked on top. The blue sky abounded above us, with some very thin high clouds.
Up and up and up we went till there was nothing but 360 degrees of the uniterrupted peaks as far as the eye could see, all dusted with snow glowing in the sun. It took us 3hr 51 minutes to get to the top. We plopped down in the snow and took a break, admiring the views. Jon fired up his pop can stove and boiled some water for tea while Carla enjoyed her thermos and Matt ran around taking photos. Jon offered me some hot water and as I stood to grab it I tripped on my snowshoes and went hurtling over Matt who was getting out his food and had this concerned look of "uh oh he's gonna squash me" on his face. I landed safely in the snow without hurting anyone, though my camera was underneath me covered in snow. I was able to get most all of the snow and water off though I had some fog issues on the way down.
We sat around for around 50 minutes enjoying the awesome views (is there a better location for views in WA that is as easy to get to?), taking photos and doing peak identification. We stopped for a summit photo in front of Glacier Peak and then started the descent. I love tromping down on fresh snow, though the 2 inch slabby layer on top at times made getting your foot free hard.
The descent was without note other than a few frozen creeks and the fact that it felt like a long slog through the trees. We made it back to the car in just under 2 hours. True to Carla's prediction Matt wore his snowshoes longer than anyone else and was the last to the car, but only by 5 minutes.
The drive home was nice except for that bus and Carla's desire to keep honking Jon's horn at people.
What a fantastic blue sky day in the mountains, thanks for taking me along Matt.
I have some video I'll cut together later.
(edit added the video )
Good for you for getting up there while you still can! It's definitely my favorite for views. Any issues in the waterfall chute or is it too early?
Not sure what the problems are typically in winter as it was my first time up there. But I can guess it could be a problem with ice build up making it hard to cross or lots of ice above making it dangerous from falling ice. Either way there was not a lot of ice there either on the creek or above. Though Jon did stop and take a lot of photos of the ice.
The waterfall tends to get a big snowbridge across it after a few snow falls. It's pretty high angle so there's a falling risk, then later on when the bridge thins there's a chance of falling through into the creek and over the edge.
Awesome photos! Might be the last trip up Dickerman until the spring.
Once again (for the third time ever), I was hiking with nwhikers.net rock stars. And once again, it was so much fun that Bill Bennett now has a new career warning the youth of America about the dangers of snowshoeing on Tuesdays. I am going to have to change my loner status and join more trips. If only I can get on Dicey’s call list…
As the guy who left his camera at home, I’ve been waiting for Mark or Matt to post some pictures. Here are some other images from the hike:
• Flying snowshoes and spraying powder as Mark literally flew over a boiling pot of water and twisted mid-air to dodge Matt and his tea, after tripping at the top of Dickerman. This is the first 10.0 in the history of Snowshoe Gymnastics.
• Carla communicating via car horn. Horns can say so much! And all my life I thought that other drivers were just pissed off at me.
• Matt yelling, “Hey, what are those things on your backs?” (As the powder got deeper, we were a little slow putting on the snowshoes. )
Bring a down coat or three. Oh, and goggles. And a balaclava or two. Definitely tea.
Most of us brought the tea, but we didn’t get to use most of the other stuff. I was actually sort of disappointed that I didn’t get to try out my new face mask and boast about how cold it was. Instead we had to settle for a sunny summit with pretty views.
The Mountain Loop Highway was still open, but Dickerman’s trailhead parking lot was barricaded. It was odd to see the huge lot empty. There was half a foot of powder snow right down to the 1900-foot trailhead.
Progress went smoothly up the forested trail. Big Four and others played peek-a-boo through the trees.
Knee-deep powder slowed our pace when we hit more open terrain. On the highest meadows, a wind crust was sometimes strong enough to support our snowshoes, sometimes not.
Dickerman’s summit hadn’t begun to form its winter cornice yet. The summit views showed the unusual condition of the snowpack so far this year - a frosting of snow way down low into the valleys, but very little snow up high, with a lot of bare rock still showing on the summits.
Views were wide and pretty.
I wandered past the summit to check out some wind-carved snowbanks farther west.
Then I joined the others for lunch.
We had come prepared for making a hot lunch. Jon boiled water in a little stove. Carla had a thermos of tea. I had a thermos of water for soup and tea.
Mark entertained us by performing snow acrobatics. He tripped and fell downhill, leaped over Jon’s stove, took out my poles as he twisted past me, and made a full-body landing in the snow.
On the way down, the sun had lit up some unusual icicles in a small open bit of stream. They appeared to have formed just like stalactites and stalagmites grown together to create a column in caves. From the bottom they built up like a pile of stacked discs, from the top they stretched downward like smooth icicles, and then merged together. Behind the translucent ice in the background you could still see and hear a flickering pattern of water trickling and gurgling downward.
Round trip stats: 8 miles, 3900 gain, 6:30 hours
-------------- “As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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