Well, even cougs can climb and keep up! (more on that later) So, Iron (Mike) was tempted by the predicted sunny, blue-sky day for today. So - he put out "the call" to several to join him on a trip up to the North Fork of the Sauk and an ascent of Red (Painted) Mountain. After this rather intense week at work (albeit shortened with Monday as a holiday) - I immediately jumped on the chance to join Mike on a trip which appeared to be a wonderful leg burner! Mike was inspired by a trip taken recently by some U of W students who frequently hike/climb. He also was tempted by B00's summer trip B00 on Red and Skalabats However, there was one condition - Mike needed to be back in town for a Hot Pantz date - so the requirement was we had to meet up at the 65th P&R @ 5:15 a.m.!!! Fortunately, my local Starbucks opens at 5:00 a.m.! So, meet up we did - me and the boys! There was Iron (Mike), Cartman (Erik), Kevin (an NW Hikers lurker), Two Dog Dad (Niko) and hiking legend, Don Duncan! What a fun group. I was a little nervous about the testosterone challenge I was facing! Off we went. I kept reminding Mike that it was very dark. Even when we got to Darrington, it still was dark! We arrived at the Trailhead (FS 49) having passed a car parked on the road - but no evidence of humans (was still there on our way out!) - the only other humanity we would see, until on our way out. It was about 7:20 a.m. and still not really light.
We geared up and were ready to roll about 7:45 a.m.
It was 32 degrees when we started, but it felt quite mild.
This trail wastes no time in getting started. It's UP the whole way. We were on dirt and managed to knock off the first 1000' (just above where the old lookout was) in less than an hour - so, that meant one mile down & only about 2 more to go to gain another 4000' Our group soon established itself. It was Mike and Kevin sprinting up the trail (but frequently stopping for the rest of us), there was me in hot pursuit (the coug factor!) pretty much hiking by myself (and occasionally with Gus, when he came back to check on me!), then Erik, Niko and Don. We stopped at the first "challenge" location. There had been a description of a rocky, cliffy area. Bad Dog had heard that it wouldn't be safe for dogs and warned me and Niko. However, it really turned out to be pretty minimal. We were still on dirt, so it wasn't slippery - and, if you go to the right on the trail (rather than the trail to the left) you really avoid any scary stuff. Gus had no problem.
Here are some shots of us coming down this area (sorry to skip around).
We reached the start of the real UP just above the cliff area at about 3100'.
Here, we agreed that it basically was simply a ridge climb the rest of the way up to the summit of Red. Don wasn't so sure he would venture so far today - and we all agreed that we were comfortable if we split up some, since the route was fairly straight forwad. Kevin and Mike started up - "snow" that begins at about 3600'
But it didn't take long to realize that this was going to require some fancy footwear to make any real progress.
Much better. From here, I followed pretty closely behind Mike and Kevin. We remained in the trees for quite some time. When we finally emerged, the snow then got "sugary" and deeper (this is where the U of W group put on snowshoes apparently) - fortunately, this slowed Mike and Kevin a little (thank you for kicking those steps!) - but it wouldn't be long before we would hit the wind scour snow once we were out in the open. We had kept our crampons on and that's where Mike and Kevin gained distance on me - plus I got a little off-course - but fortunately, not too far, because Gus came back and showed me the right route!!! The views were beginning to appear!
I caught my first glimpse of our destination.
Before long, I was on the last slope to the summit and could spy Mike and Gus above.
The wind had been blowing a bit (and the sun wasn't as evident as we had hoped), so Mike was getting a little cold (that's what he gets for wearing shorts!)
I hurried to the summit so I could con Kevin into taking a summit shot for me.
and I returned the favor.
The two of them (Mike and Kevin) were considering the possibility of doing Skalabats
- meanwhile, I wanted to take some pics from the summit (a GREAT summit! Lots and lots of views!) I was content with just doing Red.
I joined Mike and Kevin at Red's false summit - about 250' or so below the real summit - this would be the turning off point if they were going to do Skalabats. Well, who should appear? Erik. So, I told him I would go to the summit with him to take his picture. By then, the winds had died and it was quite pleasant. Gus thought I was nuts! Why would we go back UP to the summit??? Well, Kevin decided his knee might not be up to the extra mile each way (and another 1000') so he rested and had some tea. Mike couldn't let us go to the summit unescorted, so up he came, too. (Gus is very confused by now!). It was quite pleasant on the summit, so we spent a fair amount of time here - the boys busied themselves.
I took a few more pictures! (What's a girl to do?)
But, finally it was time to descend.
As we got back down to Kevin - who should appear? Niko!!! Of course, he wanted to tag the summit too - but I said, "no" I'm not going back up to take YOUR picture too! So, this will have to do.
He did do the summit - but without any escorts. Meanwhile, the rest of us started down, reaching the spot where Niko and Erik had dumped their snowshoes (why didn't I think of that?)
and we grabbed a bite to eat.
About a 1/2 hour later, our wandering Bulgarian re-joined us.
Now, we pretty much stayed together.
However, I think Erik was still disagreeing with Mike about some peak or the other. Well, things got a little heated. So, as Mike was on slight overhang checking out the views to the north, Erik crept up behind him
and before any of us could say anything - - - boof - - -
This wasn't the only set-up shot . . .
From here, it was pretty much a straight shot down - and the sun was shining . I couldn't help but turn around to see where we had been.
But, we were on a mission to get Mike back to Seattle for his hot date.
The trip down was pretty fast. When we got to the old lookout site, we were surprised to run into three guys who were hiking up to the site (no further). And, just below them, we ran into Don - he had gotten to about 5000' before turning back. We reassembled at the cars - let Boon and Doxie out (Niko worried that they wouldn't have been able to make the ascent - but they would have been fine - Gus had an absolute blast on the trip - he is sacked out now!) Back to the cars about 3:00 p.m.
Mike & Suzanne - about 5350'
Kevin, Erik and Niko - 5000'
Don - 3000'
It took Kevin and Mike about 3.0 hours to get to the summit and the driver about 3.15.
Equipment: Crampons and treking poles. Carried snowshoes - never used them. Carried ice ax - didn't need it. Had micro-spikes - they wouldn't have done much good.
It was 37 degrees when we got back - but it sure felt warmer. Got back to the P&R by 5:30 p.m. Whew!
What a fun group. Mike is likely doing Davis tomorrow with Tom S. The driver is heading toward Sasse. Hope the weather holds.
sounds so fun!- sorry to have missed it. As a consolation prize, after I helped out at my son's Art day at school, Izzy & I tagged Mt. Washington.
The trail is in great shape (esp. for 'winter'), looks like the dnr or wta has been hard at work up there. I used trail runners, not much snow until pretty high, but easy travel. Microspikes may have speeded progress, but weren't mandatory. No pics, all I carried was a water bottle & some dog biscuits.
-------------- 'we don't have time for a shortcut'
All that elevation gain looks like so much fun. I don't think I've ever done 5000' in one day (got 9,000' in a 24 hour period though). Heading up Norse peak (6900') tomorrow if weather looks good, 2500' gain from Crystal Mt. Ski Area so not too much of a work out, but it'll be the highest I've been since August.
I was a little nervous about the testosterone challenge I was facing!
With due respect to Iron, only one person's T-level is higher than yours: Gus's. And to think that last year I thought I'd finally caught up with your speed
Excellent outing: thanks Mike, for suggesting and organizing it, and everybody for being a good sport.
FWIW: I toyed with the idea of skiing Red, and the top 1000 ft would have been nice, but the 3000+ ft treed ridge is absolute frozen crap right now, and the bottom 1000 ft are brown. Next year, maybe. N
Terrific views and impressive elevation gain!
Good for Gus to keep up with with the human animals
Poor ol' Gus, I "forced" him up Sasse Ridge today for another 3700' of gain He was in absolute heaven - but is passed out now! (Snow was much deeper/powdery at 5300' than on Red. Opus will post a trip report.) s.d.
it was an enjoyable ridge walk. crampons were useful most of the way, though there was some deepish snow we encountered as well. i thought to don the snowshoes, but it didn't seem worth it as i knew we'd hit the wind-scoured ridge soon enough.
it was a pretty leisurely 2.5 hrs to summit, but a nice consistent, challenging grade to negotiate.
sadly, no davis peak for me the next day - wedding commitment at 6pm in seattle. so, i set a PR on old si: 58 min up, 58 min down. one of these days, when i can run again, i'm really gonna have to go after a sub 50 time...
thanks for the trip everyone and accomodating my tight schedule this fine "winter" day.
-------------- 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?
Not tough enough anymore but had a great time with a mostly new gang of 'hot shots'. I am surprised at how nice the photos by Sadie's Driver came out on a day with not much blue sky (especially the telephotos).
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