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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
PostSat Jun 13, 2009 7:51 pm 
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(Note  trip title courtesy of Middle E  wink.gif )
30 - 40% chance of HEAVY RAIN, hail and thunder/lightening by the magic hour of (you guessed it) 11:00 a.m. predicted the National Weather Service for the Teanaway area.   eek.gif However, Jim K, the champion of advance trip planning, had suggested on Tuesday(!) a possible return to an old favorite Koppen Mountain via Medra Pass.  He hadn't been there since 2002.  On Tuesday, it looked like Saturday would be the best weather day of the weekend.  That would change by Friday!  But, fool-hardy souls such as Brewmaster (David), Snow Dog (Elle), Middle E (Barry), Gus and I decided to join Jim on this little folly.  Happy Marmot (Kelly) decided sanity would guide her - so she opted out!   lol.gif  So, the five of us and Gus packed into the ol' Highlander at the High Point exit at 7:30 a.m. (already several folks heading up Tiger) and off we headed to points east.  Wasn't looking too promising until we got to Easton - and it started to look encouraging.  We were struck by how little snow there was on Earl - we had been to Navaho just two weeks ago and there was A LOT more snow evident.  The roads are clear in the Teanaway - not a problem getting to most trailheads. And, there were lots and lots of people camped all along the road as we headed past Beverly Creek Campground.   We arrived at the Johnson Creek trailhead and there was one other car.  Jim mentioned that this was a little-used trail, but why was a mystery to us - it's a lovely trail!  So, as we prepared to head out, all of us but one were in summer attire (including Gus' new haircut) - but Elle wasn't taking any chances!   rolleyes.gif 
Elle making sure she gets those gaiters on!!!
Elle making sure she gets those gaiters on!!!

We were on the trail by 9:10 a.m. and the weather seemed perfect - almost a little warm.  We were set to cross the N. Fork of the Teanaway and head on our way toward Medra Pass and then on to Koppen.
Troops head to the trail - sun shining
Troops head to the trail - sun shining
Crossing the Teanaway
Crossing the Teanaway
On our way
On our way
Brown hikes are back!!!! Yaaaaaa!!!!
Brown hikes are back!!!! Yaaaaaa!!!!

It was humid as we moved up the Johnson Creek drainage - but the grade is gentle.  The flowers were spectacular!  Hopefully, Jim will add his pics - there was Vanilla Leaf, the first Queen's Cup of the season, Columbine, Lewisia, Balsam Root, Solomon Seal, etc. etc. etc. - they are absolutely stunning right now!   slobber.gif
Pretty
Pretty
Flowers and Butterfiles
Flowers and Butterfiles

Soon, we were rising above Johnson Creek and heading up a string of switchbacks that would take us up to Medra Pass.
Taking the route less traveled . . .
Taking the route less traveled . . .

But, the skies were changing.  By the time we reached Medra Pass, there were ominous clouds to the east.   
Storm clouds to the east
Storm clouds to the east

We had a team discussion and decided to press on to Koppen - because the "bad weather" seemed well off in the distance.  While at the Pass - we got a few "spits" of droplets, but nothing serious.   
At Medra Pass
At Medra Pass

Now, some of us learn from mistakes - others of us are destined to repeat them.  This would be our chance today to repeat an earlier error by Mr. Kuresman.  As the Fab Five plus Gus headed to what we thought was the Koppen route, we realized the error of our ways . . . To quote Jim from 2002:
"Even though I successfully found my way to Koppen and back in 1993 I still made a mistake this time. At one point there is a main trail straight ahead and a smaller one turning right. The turn is the correct  one. When I started descending and came to a cliff I smartly deduced that I had screwed up."  Friends, history DOES repeat itself!  doh.gif  However, a quick course correction - (Elle was questioning our directional dysfunction the entire time) - we were back on trail and headed to Koppen (note to the intrepid - after you leave Medra Pass and come upon a fork in the trail - take the high road - even though it initially looks less traveled.  Stick to the ridge - you can't go wrong!)  There are a few bumps to go up and down on your way to Koppen 
Ridge to Koppen
Ridge to Koppen

- but it is a delightful ridge run - and the weather still seemed to be cooperating.
Just another bump along the ridge
Just another bump along the ridge
A storm a' brewin'
A storm a' brewin'
Hot dog
Hot dog
Heading to the summit of Koppen
Heading to the summit of Koppen

We were on the last bump and soon on the summit of Koppen where there is a lovely new summit register (circa 2008) with THREE pencils! (and a sharpener!)  We reached the summit in about 2:45 and spent a "leisurely" half hour on the summit wondering if we would be struck by lightning!
Cool clouds all around - Elle on the summit
Cool clouds all around - Elle on the summit
Team Koppen enjoying the views
Team Koppen enjoying the views
Brewmaster thinking about being struck by lightening
Brewmaster thinking about being struck by lightening
Jim K studying the summit register - Elle contemplating ????
Jim K studying the summit register - Elle contemplating ????
Map student and faithful companion
Map student and faithful companion
Cool clouds looking towards Hawkins and Esmerelda
Cool clouds looking towards Hawkins and Esmerelda

We noted that the last entry in the summit register was May 31 of this year and before that it was Nov. 1 of 2008!  With the DeRoux route melting out, it won't be long before others will be visiting the summit of this great perch!  Beautiful views all around.  We didn't dawdle on the summit, however, not wanting to tempt fate and the weather gods  huh.gif  so down we started - the weather was still pleasantly mild - around 70 degrees and a slight breeze. 
Man and the sky
Man and the sky

This one's for you Ragman . . .   
Flowers and Stuart
Flowers and Stuart

As we approached Medra Pass on our way down, there were two hikers headed toward Koppen - we exchanged pleasantries and warned them about the up-coming fork in the trail - and went on our way.  There was some debate among our group of whether or not to include Malcolm in an extended loop (as we were making very good time) - but the vote seemed to be 4 to 1 (Gus was siding with the lone vote) not to add another 6 miles to today's trip  tongue.gif  down.gif  We won't mention any names here . . . .  hmmm.gif  The humidity seemed a little less intense on our way down the switchbacks, but as soon as we got close to Johnson Creek again, someone took advantage . . . 
Chillin' - He is so good at that. 06-13-09
Chillin' - He is so good at that. 06-13-09

We also noted that not only is this a good year for wildflowers (2008 was pretty dismal), it's also a good year for huckleberries!   
The bears will be happy this year!
The bears will be happy this year!

On our way out - less than a mile from the trailhead - we came upon two women who were mushroom hunting.  They seemed to know what they were looking for and had some in their basket.  We continued on and soon we were back to the car - about 5 1/2 hours car-to-car.  Maybe 3400' gain and about 11 miles (Brewmaster will confirm this.)  But today was sun  cool.gif  fun  agree.gif  a BROWN HIKE  up.gif  and great company!   winksmile.gif

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Four-paw buddy lets me tag along!
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GeoTom
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Joined: 19 May 2005
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GeoTom
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PostSat Jun 13, 2009 9:52 pm 
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I thought I saw you guys from our vantage point above Longs Pass.  hockeygrin.gif

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Brewmaster
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Joined: 19 Feb 2008
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Brewmaster
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PostSun Jun 14, 2009 4:28 am 
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Another great trip suggested by Jim.  Not so sure about the weather and I do admit that I was keeping an eye on the weather.  The loud thunder at about 10 am with few clouds in the sky was interesting to say the least.  (At least Jim is 2 inches taller than I am...)

Here are the stats- including our little side trip down the ridge to nowhere about 11.5 miles and 3500 feet elevation gain.  Some ups and downs over the false summits.  Overall a very nice ridge walk, one I will repeat!

Lots of birds singing in the first part of the trip, and for the adventuresome quite a few mushrooms.

And yes, the cold brew (latest batch of American Pale Ale) tasted great.

Koppen elevation
Koppen elevation
Koppen track
Koppen track
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Joey
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Joined: 05 Jun 2005
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Joey
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PostSun Jun 14, 2009 6:18 am 
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Hey Jim - Did you recognize that car at the TH?  I heard voices just before arriving in the Medra Pass area (coming from the south).  Maybe that was the Malcolm Mtn debate.  I took a break at the pass and never even saw the dust you trail runners must have been raising.
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Snowdog
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PostSun Jun 14, 2009 1:48 pm 
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So glad I had my gaiters on! The stream crossings alone called for them, not to mention the inches & inches of snow.
Laugh if you will, but here is my inaugural attempt at adding pics. 

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'we don't have time for a shortcut'
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TrailPair
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TrailPair
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PostSun Jun 14, 2009 2:57 pm 
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Looks like you had an excellent trip....better weather than expected....less nsow than expected....and no trailpair summit curse.  hockeygrin.gif

Jim K was pointing out the peaks and Elle was contemplating  cool.gif

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This thing called work is interfering with my play
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Middle E
no more moustache



Joined: 10 Feb 2008
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Location: Seattle, WA
Middle E
no more moustache
PostSun Jun 14, 2009 5:45 pm 
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Snowdog wrote:
Laugh if you will, but here is my inaugural attempt at adding pics.

Good try, but the pictures of someone pointing MUST involve JimK.  You'll get the hang of it soon enough.

Here are a couple more that I took....
Suzanne and Elle almost to the pass
Suzanne and Elle almost to the pass
Stuart from Koppen
Stuart from Koppen
Hawkins and Esmerelda from Koppen
Hawkins and Esmerelda from Koppen
Mt. Stuart behind balsamroot
Mt. Stuart behind balsamroot

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JimK
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JimK
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PostSun Jun 14, 2009 7:04 pm 
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Joey, we saw a couple near Medra Pass heading towards Koppen. That was it until a couple mushroom pickers near the bottom. That must have been us you heard. Just missed a surprise meeting at the pass.

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Hiking Northwest
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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 Jun 15, 2009 9:04 pm 
No Dog Day
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GeoTom wrote:
I thought I saw you guys from our vantage point above Longs Pass.  hockeygrin.gif

P.S. Jasper, what excuse did he give you for not taking you on this trip?  huh.gif  rant.gif He could have stopped a few miles earlier and you could have hung out with me for the day!!!   agree.gif  Bummer  down.gif
Your friend, Gus

TrailPair wrote:
Looks like you had an excellent trip....better weather than expected....less nsow than expected....and no trailpair summit curse.  hockeygrin.gif Jim K was pointing out the peaks and Elle was contemplating  cool.gif

Funny thing about the weather - the views were spectacular - hmmm  hmmm.gif wonder why?   lol.gif
Did you come back with 3 or 4 more Chihuahuas from the Chihuahua Swap Meet?  Gus can hardly wait!   embarassedlaugh.gif
P.S.  Ahhh, that wouldn't be Jim K and Elle.  shakehead.gif  doh.gif

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Four-paw buddy lets me tag along!
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Jasper
Cascade Snow Pig



Joined: 13 Apr 2008
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Jasper
Cascade Snow Pig
PostMon Jun 15, 2009 9:08 pm 
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Gus-

It's ok. I was at the cabin with my mom. It's better without him anyway as he kicks me off the bed.

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Stout
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JimK
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JimK
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PostMon Jun 15, 2009 9:26 pm 
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I'm often mistaken for Middle E.  smile.gif

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Hiking Northwest
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JimK
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JimK
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PostTue Jun 16, 2009 10:47 am 
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My turn to add a report and photos.


I had hiked up Koppen Mountain twice before via Medra Pass. The old sheep highway has not been maintained in many decades but some tread remains all the way to Koppen and beyond. Suzanne, Barry, Brewmaster, and Elle completed the group. All of us and Suzanne's dog Gus squeezed into one vehicle for the drive over. This weekend provided an unusual forecast as unsettled weather presented the chance of thundershowers in the mountains. The best weather was in Seattle. Still, flowers are great now on the east side of the crest and rapidly melting snow provides the chance to hike on dirt once again.

We arrived at the Johnson Creek Trailhead, just beyond Beverly Creek Campgrounds on the NF Teanaway River, at about 9:00 am. There was one other car there. The trail crosses the Teanaway River on a bridge and begins a gentle climb up the valley. In less than a mile the junction with the Jungle Creek Trail is reached. The valley is really green right now. A few trillium remain though far past their prime. Vanilla leaf lines much of the trail. We also saw columbine, violets, and numerous other flowers. Ell noticed a small snake in the trail. It was brownish in color and yellow on its belly. It was not moving but not dead either. We moved it out of the way. I don't know what type of snake it was.

Lots Of Vanilla Leaf
Lots Of Vanilla Leaf
Small Snake
Small Snake
Into The Jungle
Into The Jungle

The trail crosses the creek four times. At peak snow melt in the spring these can be very difficult. Today the crossings were not too bad at all. The crossings were at about half of the maximum creek width. Soon after the final crossing the grade begins to steepen. The trail is open to horses, hikers, motorcycles, etc. It gets steeper but remains pretty smooth. When switchbacks begin the creek is left behind and the real climbing begins.

Soon deep forest gives way to trees and open rock gardens mixed together. Lupine, paintbrush, waterleaf, penstemon, larkspur, arnica, and more dotted the hillside. The flower show looked to be right near its peak. We drove over with clouds overhead most all the way. It began to clear past Easton and the sky was blue when we began. A few clouds began to drift in. We were still a mile or so from Medra Pass when the first "boom" of thunder caught our attention. Maybe we wouldn't be going to the summit after all. We decided to continue to the pass and make a decision then.

Open Slopes
Open Slopes
Fortune & Ingalls
Fortune & Ingalls

Up at the pass we could see one big and very black cloud to the east near Table Mountain. It was raining heavily there. Lighter clouds were all around though we still had some sunshine above us. We decided to head on towards the summit keeping an eye on the direction of the thunderclouds. The ridge has some ups and downs on the way to Koppen. There are two high bumps near the peak. On my previous visit I made a mistake. There is a spot where the trail goes straight ahead and a smaller trail turns off right. The correct route is to the right. Just like last time we headed straight and began to descend. This side ridge drops then gets really steep. It is obviously not the correct route. It just feels like it at first.

Mt. Stuart
Mt. Stuart

We trudged back uphill to the junction and turned onto the correct route. For the most part the trail is just to the left of the ridge. A lot of the ridge still has some snow on the very top but the route avoided most of it. We heard a few more thunderclaps but the weather seemed to be staying the same. The heavy rain to the east looked to be dumping on the same place for hours. As usual, Barry, Suzanne, and Elle flew ahead and David and I hiked together. Balsamroot and douglasia joined the flower parade on the ridge top. Where the old trail traverses a rocky slope the route is hard to see. David and I went too high at first before finding the old tread, such as it is. This part is not an easy trail walk though its not a difficult scramble either.

Balsamroot & Stuart
Balsamroot & Stuart
Summit In Sight
Summit In Sight

We crested Point 5806, dropped to the saddle, and began the final climb to the summit. The views were outstanding. Clouds were high but all the summits were in the clear. Iron, Teanaway, Stuart, Ingalls, Fortune, Esmeralda, Hawkins, Daniel, DeRoux, Jolly, and more were all around us. Koppen makes an excellent viewpoint of all the Teanaway area peaks. We were the second party to sign the summit register this year. Soon the usual route up the DeRoux Trail will be snow free and many more folks will visit.

Summit Above
Summit Above
Almost There
Almost There
Tall White Clouds
Tall White Clouds
Looking Back Along Ridge
Looking Back Along Ridge
Raining Hard
Raining Hard
Mt. Daniel
Mt. Daniel
Jolly Mountain
Jolly Mountain
Hawkins Mountain
Hawkins Mountain

Weather was still a concern so we did not stay on top as long as we would have wished. All too soon it was time to head down. I wasn't excited about the uphill on the way back to Medra Pass but it wasn't too bad. One positive of the clouds was that it kept the temperature down to a reasonable level. Still warm but not too hot. As we neared the pass we met the only two hikers we were to see all day. They were heading in the direction of Koppen.

Heading Down
Heading Down
Ridge Back To Pass
Ridge Back To Pass
Balsamroot On Ridge
Balsamroot On Ridge
Rocky Slope
Rocky Slope
Biggest Snow Patch
Biggest Snow Patch
Drop Off On Left Side
Drop Off On Left Side
Hikers & Balsamroot
Hikers & Balsamroot
Penstemon?
Penstemon?

The group sprinted down from the pass. I chose to take more photos of all the wildflowers and fell behind quickly. I hike alone on the way down but very much enjoyed the flower show. It was warming up and I was glad to reach the more heavily forested valley below. Within the last half mile I met two mushroom pickers. They were the only other people on the trail. Another day in a popular hiking area where I see very few people. I'm amazed that most of the hikers in the Teanaway Valley are all on the same two or three trails. So much the better for me I guess.

Paintbrush & Lupine
Paintbrush & Lupine
Orange Panitbrush
Orange Panitbrush
Yellow & Orange
Yellow & Orange
Columbine
Columbine
Violet
Violet
Lush Green Valley
Lush Green Valley

We came all the way down from the summit in about two hours. Not bad at all. For the day David's GPS recorded 11 1/2 miles with 3500' of gain. That includes about 100' on our accidental detour. We braved the thunder and lightning and came out just fine. It never did rain on us. It did rain all around us and the sky was dark for most of the drive home. Just before Seattle the sky turned blue and 65 degrees turned to 80 degrees. For once, Seattle turned out to be the warm sunny corner of Washington state. We had a nice climb, some scrambling, great views, and the usual near total solitude. Throw in more than thirty varieties of wildflowers in bloom and you have a very nice day in the mountains.

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