Forum Index > Trip Reports > Florence, Howard, & Sweet (MRNP) 4/4/09
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 4075 | TRs
Location: Shoreline
Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostTue Apr 07, 2009 12:41 am 
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Date: 4/4/09
Peaks: Florence, Howard, Sweet (MRNP)
Party: Matt, Martin S, Natala G, cartman, Iron, Bad Dog, Trailpair (2 plus Luis), Opus

Every winter, my fondest wish is to get out somewhere high on the first sunny day after a storm, when the trees and land are still frosted white and the air is bright and clear, so the whole scene is a brilliant winter composition of forests and peaks etched in snowy highlights.

But it’s a rare pleasure, because it takes a difficult combination of conditions: enough snow to cover the trees but not make travel too difficult, enough sun to light up the snow but not melt it off, a route that has high views but not too much danger, a group of friends that’s ready to go, and lucky timing to have all that come together on a day that I’m free.

Today we got it all: clear blue skies, bright white peaks, snow-plastered forest, high ridges, wide views, a safe route, decent snow underfoot, and a fine party of people.

Route

We parked at Mt. Rainier’s Carbon River entrance (1750 ft) and followed the Boundary Trail till it reached Alki Crest circa 4500 feet.  Then we followed the crest SE to Florence Peak at 5508.  Part of the group followed the crest further to Howard Peak at 5682.  On the way back, some of the group took a different branch of the ridge north from Florence to Sweet Peak at 4580, and then rejoined the Boundary Trail to exit.

Florence-Howard-Sweet Route Map
Florence-Howard-Sweet Route Map

Boundary Trail

The Boundary Trail began in shadowy deep forest.

Looking down at the Carbon River
Looking down at the Carbon River
Boundary Marker on a Big Tree
Boundary Marker on a Big Tree

Above 3000 feet, the forest became progressively more magical.

Light Amid the Darkness:

Light Amid the Darkness 1
Light Amid the Darkness 1
Light Amid the Darkness 2
Light Amid the Darkness 2
Light Amid the Darkness 3
Light Amid the Darkness 3

Snow Blown Understory:

Snow Blown Trunks 1
Snow Blown Trunks 1
Snow Blown Trunks 2
Snow Blown Trunks 2
Snow Loaded Sapling
Snow Loaded Sapling

Tallness of the Trees:

Many Shapes
Many Shapes
Tallness
Tallness

Above 3500 we lost the trail.  Circa 4000 we took a break by an open glade.

The Glade
The Glade
Iron kicking up a rooster tail (He kicked almost all the steps the whole way.)
Iron kicking up a rooster tail (He kicked almost all the steps the whole way.)
Skirting the edge of the glade
Skirting the edge of the glade
Back into the Woods
Back into the Woods

Snow periodically fell from the higher limbs, sometimes crashing down in blobs, sometimes drifting down in sparkles.

Tree Showers:

Snow Burst
Snow Burst
Diamond Shower (look close)
Diamond Shower (look close)
Tree Shower Sunbeams
Tree Shower Sunbeams

Nearing Alki Crest:

Snowshoers near the crest 1
Snowshoers near the crest 1
Snowshoers near the crest 2
Snowshoers near the crest 2
Snowshoers near the crest 3
Snowshoers near the crest 3

Alki Crest

Along Alki Crest, the forest was a hallway of frosted columns, with occasional openings to see the snowy boughs above.

Iron
Iron
Martin & Eric
Martin & Eric
Bob
Bob
Sun Sneaking In
Sun Sneaking In
Hiking Past an Opening
Hiking Past an Opening
Trees Swallowing Opus
Trees Swallowing Opus
Hiker in the Snowy Trees
Hiker in the Snowy Trees
More Tallness of Trees
More Tallness of Trees
Opus
Opus
Natala
Natala

Florence

Just below the false summit, the terrain opened up.

Path to the false summit
Path to the false summit
Arriving at the false summit
Arriving at the false summit
Rainier
Rainier

Lots of Rime:

Rimescape
Rimescape
Rime Eruptions
Rime Eruptions
Rimehenge
Rimehenge

A brief scramble led to the true summit.

Matt at summit
Matt at summit
Joanna & Natala coming to summit
Joanna & Natala coming to summit
Queen of the Summit
Queen of the Summit

We enjoyed a lunch break on the false summit.

Luis is all ears
Luis is all ears
(False) Summit Party
(False) Summit Party
(False) Summit Tea
(False) Summit Tea

Howard

Iron, Matt, Cartman, and Bad Dog made a side trip to Howard.  (Iron kicked all the steps.)

We basically followed the ridge crest from Florence to Howard.
We dropped about a hundred feet back down our ascent route, then followed the SE nose of Florence down to the col at 5150, went over Point 5255, and up to Howard at 5683.

The ridge had a decent crest for travel the whole way: cornices on the left, trees on the right, a bit of rock on 5255, a broader slope on Howard.

Descending from Florence to the col:

Half-frosted trees on the south side of Florence
Half-frosted trees on the south side of Florence
The ridge to Howard (Howard, Floward, Tolmie, Rainier)
4 labels
The ridge to Howard (Howard, Floward, Tolmie, Rainier)
Hooked Cornice
Hooked Cornice

Looking back to Florence:

The Ridge back to Florence
The Ridge back to Florence
Eric & Joanna coming up the ridge after the col
Eric & Joanna coming up the ridge after the col

We went almost over the top of Point 5255.
I dubbed it “Floward,” since it’s between Florence & Howard:

Ascending toward Floward
2 labels
Ascending toward Floward
Looking ahead to FloWard
Looking ahead to FloWard
FloWard summit
FloWard summit
Looking back at FloWard
Looking back at FloWard
Beyond FloWard
Beyond FloWard

Then we continued across a minor col and up toward Howard:

The ridge ahead to Howard
The ridge ahead to Howard
View Along the Way
View Along the Way
Bowing to the Master
Bowing to the Master

Howard had a broad flat summit:

Broad summit slope of Howard
Broad summit slope of Howard
Howard Summit Group
Howard Summit Group
Wishing we had time for Tolmie as well (See the lookout?)
Wishing we had time for Tolmie as well (See the lookout?)

Along the way back to Florence:

FloWard & Florence
FloWard & Florence
Florence & Olympics
Florence & Olympics
Iron & Eric
Iron & Eric
Joanna
Joanna

Treecicles near Florence:

Treecicles 1
Treecicles 1
Treecicles 2
Treecicles 2
Treecicles 3
Treecicles 3
Treecicles 4
Treecicles 4

Last View from Florence:

Last View of Howard & Rainier
Last View of Howard & Rainier

Sweet

Martin & Natala wanted to summit Sweet Peak on the way back.
It was a thousand feet lower and covered with trees, but it had a name, and it wasn’t far out of the way.
As we departed Florence, we stayed right and took the branch ridge northward circa 5200, dropped to the Florence-Sweet col at 4300, and went back up to Sweet at 4580.

Descending to Sweet
Descending to Sweet
View back to north side of Florence
View back to north side of Florence
Sweet Summit Party
Sweet Summit Party

Then we returned to the col and angled down and west to hit the snowshoe tracks about 3800.

Down to about 3000 feet, the melting snow on the limbs above made a constant rain shower on us.
The trailhead actually is a short nature trail loop.  What a surprise - it’s a rain forest!

Soaked by Tree Rain
Soaked by Tree Rain
Temperate Rain Forest
Temperate Rain Forest

Statistics:
Carbon River Entrance 1760, Alki Crest 4500, Florence 5508
Florence-Howard Col 5150, Howard 5683
Florence-Sweet Col 4300, Sweet 4580

Gain:  Florence 3700, Florence to Howard 600, Howard to Florence 400, Sweet 300.  Total 5000 feet.

Mileage:  Florence 4.0, Howard 1.4 each way, Sweet 1.0, exit 3.3.  Total 11.1 miles.

Time:  Up to Florence 4:10, Florence summit break 0:40, Howard round trip 2:55, to Sweet 0:55, descent 1:35.  Total 10:15 hours.


--------------
“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



Joined: 13 Feb 2007
Posts: 6161 | TRs
Location: Stuck in the middle
puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks
PostTue Apr 07, 2009 1:05 am 
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Every winter, my deepest regret is not joining Matt on the first sunny day after a storm when he nails the perfect spot on a perfect day.  mad.gif

Fantastic report, and there's always next year  biggrin.gif
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Scrooge
Famous Grouse



Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 6965 | TRs
Location: wishful thinking
Scrooge
Famous Grouse
PostTue Apr 07, 2009 4:59 am 
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Looking toward April 2009?         wink.gif

...       up.gif  up.gif


But only if we have a little more flexibility next year, so we can shift pics between months. I know I've got a great pic that I took in February that would be good for April or May, but makes no sense for Winter.        irked.gif

I have just one question, Matt: when do you find time to hike?         hmmm.gif

--------------
Something lost behind the ranges. Lost and waiting for you....... Go and find it. Go!
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Opus
Wannabe



Joined: 04 Mar 2006
Posts: 3549 | TRs
Location: The big rock candy mountain
Opus
Wannabe
PostTue Apr 07, 2009 7:04 am 
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Wow, I wish I'd joined for Horward and Sweet too!  That ridge walk looks amazing.  I'm glad I conserved my energy for Welcome pass the next day though.  Snow conditions were so much better at Florence saturday.

Click here for all photos.

Frosted trees
4 labels
Frosted trees
Snow dunes
4 labels
Snow dunes
Clearing
Clearing
Joanna & Luis
Joanna & Luis
Essential gear: ice axe and a chihuahua
Essential gear: ice axe and a chihuahua
Breaking trail
Breaking trail
Blowing snow
Blowing snow
Eric
Eric
Someone on top
1 label
Someone on top
Bright sun
Bright sun
True summit
True summit
Luis
Luis
Cornice
Cornice
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Bloated Chipmunk
Farblondjet



Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 2617 | TRs
Location: Margaritaville
Bloated Chipmunk
Farblondjet
PostTue Apr 07, 2009 7:11 am 
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Cool, I like to see more TRs around MRNP.  up.gif  up.gif  Looks like a good summit bag.

Why does it always look like Luis is 1/2 asleep?   zzz.gif  wink.gif

--------------
Home is where the hiking is. 

"Peaks that have come and gone four times should halt a man in his steps." -- William O. Douglas

A balanced diet is a margarita in each hand.
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jd_hiker
Member
Member


Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 573 | TRs
Location: Bonney Lake
jd_hiker
Member
PostTue Apr 07, 2009 7:30 am 
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Some great calendar shots. Like the feeling of your "Breaking Trail" shot Opus. Gives a feeling of effort against the mass of the trees in the background.  up.gif

--------------
I have 11 essentials, the 10 plus an extra camera battery.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jd_hiker/
http://jdhascup.wordpress.com
http://jdhascup.500px.com
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wildernessed
viewbagger



Joined: 31 Oct 2004
Posts: 8919 | TRs
Location: Wenatchee
wildernessed
viewbagger
PostTue Apr 07, 2009 7:36 am 
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up.gif Rimehenge is awesome !

--------------
Living in the Anthropocene
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Scrooge
Famous Grouse



Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 6965 | TRs
Location: wishful thinking
Scrooge
Famous Grouse
PostTue Apr 07, 2009 7:43 am 
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Matt, I just noticed something.


That looks an awful lot like COFFEE!           eek.gif

--------------
Something lost behind the ranges. Lost and waiting for you....... Go and find it. Go!
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Gabigabs
Trail Breaker



Joined: 07 Nov 2007
Posts: 844 | TRs
Location: Seattle
Gabigabs
Trail Breaker
PostTue Apr 07, 2009 8:25 am 
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Beautiful photos and even better descriptions. Always enjoy reading your reports.

--------------
Life is simple... Eat, Sleep, Hike!
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GaliWalker
Have camera will use



Joined: 10 Dec 2007
Posts: 3803 | TRs
Location: Pittsburgh
GaliWalker
Have camera will use
PostTue Apr 07, 2009 8:33 am 
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Beautiful trip and report. The section from Florence to Howard has the best photos; Tolmie must have even better views.

--------------
'Gali'Walker => 'Mountain-pass' walker
bobbi: "...don't you ever forget your camera!"
Photography site: http://galiwalker.zenfolio.com/
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iron
getting old



Joined: 10 Aug 2008
Posts: 5917 | TRs
Location: kenmore
iron
getting old
PostTue Apr 07, 2009 9:22 am 
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well told story matt. your tale captures my feelings exactly. once we hit that ridge heading towards howard, i was in a pure euphoric state. not only was it warm and sunny with untouched powder and blue skies, but the wind - the wind was non-existant. the stillness in the air was mimicing the stillness of the snow and ice. everything just seemed to be perfectly frozen in time. i think i found myself whistling and laughing to myself while walking that ridge (which might just be a sign of a loose screw...). this doesn't happen much.

anyway, it was wonderful to meet everyone that was new (matt, martin, opus, and natala). it's just another reinforcement of just how amazing so many people are that frequent the nwhikers website. thanks everyone. let me know when you need some more steps  up.gif  winksmile.gif
martin leading the way towards 'lunch valley'
martin leading the way towards 'lunch valley'
departing 'lunch valley'
departing 'lunch valley'
moss and snow coated tall trees
moss and snow coated tall trees
early morning shadows
early morning shadows
the kind of skies we just love to see
the kind of skies we just love to see
just perfect
just perfect
working through the trees up the ridge towards florence
working through the trees up the ridge towards florence
approaching florence's false summit
approaching florence's false summit
approaching the false summit of florence
approaching the false summit of florence
little summit scramble to florence's true summit
little summit scramble to florence's true summit
looking back towards false summit
looking back towards false summit
lopsided snow-caked tree
lopsided snow-caked tree
working over one of many bumps on the ridge towards howard
working over one of many bumps on the ridge towards howard
martin on florence summit
martin on florence summit
florence summit shot - tea included
florence summit shot - tea included
after dropping down from florence and heading to howard
after dropping down from florence and heading to howard
wonderful ridge walk to howard
wonderful ridge walk to howard
untouched fun near howard
untouched fun near howard
blue framed by green
blue framed by green
big cornices along initial section of howard ridge
big cornices along initial section of howard ridge
heading up towards pt. 5255 and looking back at ridge from florence (not visible here)
heading up towards pt. 5255 and looking back at ridge from florence (not visible here)
tiny prints on otherwise untouched powder
tiny prints on otherwise untouched powder
the biggest cornice i've ever seen after dropping down from pt. 5255
the biggest cornice i've ever seen after dropping down from pt. 5255
point 5255
point 5255
big cornice!
big cornice!
matt on pt 5255
matt on pt 5255
nearing howard summt with pt 5255 in the wake
nearing howard summt with pt 5255 in the wake
summit of howard and some unnamed peak in the background
summit of howard and some unnamed peak in the background
straight lines are overrated anyway
straight lines are overrated anyway
exploring a bump on the east side of howard
exploring a bump on the east side of howard
howard summit shot
howard summit shot
looking back at ridge heading towards florence
looking back at ridge heading towards florence
textured snowdrifts
textured snowdrifts



--------------
man, you go through life, you try to be nice to people, you struggle to resist the urge to punch 'em in the face, and for what?

--- moe sizlack
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TrailPair
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Joined: 17 Apr 2005
Posts: 1700 | TRs

TrailPair
Member
PostTue Apr 07, 2009 11:27 am 
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Thanks again Matt for organizing this trip!  It was a fun group, and beautiful summit.  We regret not going on to Howard, too, since that ridge walk looks fantastic.
Leaving the lunch meadow
Leaving the lunch meadow
Mother Joanna
Mother Joanna
Sculpture in lunch meadow
Sculpture in lunch meadow
Opus and Matt
Opus and Matt
Little critter tracks
Little critter tracks
Natala and David enjoying the sun and views.
Natala and David enjoying the sun and views.
Natala and David on Florence
Natala and David on Florence
Bob on false summit
Bob on false summit
Bob on  Florence (false summit)
Bob on  Florence (false summit)
Matt with matching hat and sun glasses
Matt with matching hat and sun glasses
Whole group on Florence
6 labels
Whole group on Florence
The "pose"
The "pose"
Iron on Florence
Iron on Florence

--------------
This thing called work is interfering with my play
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Tom_Sjolseth
Born Yesterday



Joined: 30 May 2007
Posts: 2656 | TRs
Location: Right here.
Tom_Sjolseth
Born Yesterday
PostTue Apr 07, 2009 12:16 pm 
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Sounds like a fun trip and a great group.   up.gif
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 4075 | TRs
Location: Shoreline
Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostTue Apr 07, 2009 1:02 pm 
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Trailpair,

Glad to see someone got a shot of the "sculpture" in the lunch meadow.  I've never seen a cornice form someplace like that, in the middle of a meadow rather than up on a ridge.

Nice job getting a whole bunch of people on the rocks of Florence's summit, also.  I labeled who I thought they were.

--------------
“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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peltoms
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peltoms
Member
PostTue Apr 07, 2009 2:08 pm 
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snowburst rimehenge classic- Matt your wish delivered our pleasure.
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Florence, Howard, & Sweet (MRNP) 4/4/09
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