Forum Index > Trip Reports > Summit camp on Benchmark 7/17-18/ 2010
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TrailPair
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TrailPair
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PostSun Jul 18, 2010 6:22 pm 
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What a pleasant hike! We had been wanting to do this trip for a couple of years, so when Bryan posted a TR a couple of weeks ago we know we better get up there before the snow melted.

Jim K joined up yesterday, and surely will add more details.  The trail is in great shape, with a few easy snow patches to cross.  It seemed to have been a  nwhikers meeting, because we ran into Tagman with a group of 8 from Bremerton, and Kathy and 2 friends (not sure of on-line names).

Anyway, the weather was warmer on Saturday than forecast. Mosquitos were fierce at the TH, but not a problem on the ridge.  We had a relaxing afternoon at our campsites, but clouds moved in before sunset, and the wind was howling all night. Fortunately, the wind died down and the clouds began to disperse in the morning, creating dramatic views.

Near beginning of hike, West Cady Ridge trail
Near beginning of hike, West Cady Ridge trail
Sloan and Glacier Lillies
Sloan and Glacier Lillies
Lower meadow
Lower meadow
Upper meadows
Upper meadows
Acres of Glacier Lillies
Acres of Glacier Lillies
Bob and Jim K in upper meadow
Bob and Jim K in upper meadow
Jim K on Benchmark summit
Jim K on Benchmark summit
Bob on the water source
Bob on the water source
Bob and Luis resting on Benchmark summit
Bob and Luis resting on Benchmark summit
Luis the lap dog
Luis the lap dog
Lupe snoozing.
Lupe snoozing.
K and Lupe relaxing at camp
K and Lupe relaxing at camp
Saturday afternoon
Saturday afternoon
Lupine in evening clouds.
Lupine in evening clouds.
Evening clouds blocking the sun
Evening clouds blocking the sun
Flowers and Glacier Peak
Flowers and Glacier Peak
Clouds stopping at the trail
Clouds stopping at the trail
Clouds lifting
Clouds lifting
Jim K and  Bob descending Benchmark
Jim K and  Bob descending Benchmark
Swirling clouds at the ridgeline
Swirling clouds at the ridgeline
Camp in the morning.
Camp in the morning.
Luis, Jim K , and Lupe in the heather
Luis, Jim K , and Lupe in the heather
Evening light
Evening light
Jim K and Bob with cloud drama
Jim K and Bob with cloud drama
Bob in morning light
Bob in morning light

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This thing called work is interfering with my play
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silly_traveler
~ roaming ~



Joined: 04 Jun 2006
Posts: 1525 | TRs
Location: kirkland
silly_traveler
~ roaming ~
PostSun Jul 18, 2010 6:28 pm 
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OK, I didn't read any of your report, but the pics are OMG fabulous  cool.gif  agree.gif  up.gif

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♫ You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  And you're the one who will decide where you'll go.  Oh the places you'll go. - Dr. Seuss
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Hikingqueen
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PostSun Jul 18, 2010 6:52 pm 
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I really hope I run into you guys on the trail someday! Another great TR! Wonderful pics!  biggrin.gif
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flatsqwerl
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flatsqwerl
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PostSun Jul 18, 2010 7:07 pm 
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what kind of tent is that?  Looks like it has nice headroom. Great pics...
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JimK
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Joined: 07 Feb 2002
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PostSun Jul 18, 2010 7:30 pm 
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That's Trail Pair's Tarptent Double Rainbow. Not to be confused with my Tarptent Rainbivy that also was on the summit.


I have posted all 55 photos on my site at:

Benchmark Mountain Report & Photos

Now onto my trip report.


I had not been out backpacking since February. Bob and Kolleen mentioned they planned a trip up West Cady Ridge to Benchmark Mountain. I had been up far enough to see some terrific views on West Cady Ridge on 11-16-08 but wanted to continue on to Benchmark. Camping on or near the summit would be even better. We drove up Highway 2 to Beckler River then over Jack's Pass and down to the Skykomish River. A right turn brought us to the road end trailhead. There was a big group getting ready to go and we headed out ahead of them at 10:12 am.

The route begins at a steady gentle grade gaining 1800' in 3 miles to the beginning of the ridge. Views begin here and never really let up.  Either out to peaks or around to the miles of meadows. The trail is in fine shape. We had one log to crawl under and one to step over on the way up and both were gone on the way down. Over cast skies in Seattle gave way to blue sky in the mountains. We stopped at 3 miles for a food break. It was getting a little hot.

Many Shades Of Green
Many Shades Of Green

Bugs were annoying at the trailhead but much less of a problem up higher. Snow is melting fast. We saw the first patches at about 4500'. Most were short. There is still some longer patches farther along the ridge but none caused any problems. The first views were back wet towards Baring, Gunn, etc. Kyes soon came into view and then Glacier Peak. Not a lot of flowers out yet. We saw many bunchberry along the trail. Just a few bleeding hearts, columbine, and queens cup in the forest.


Meadows
Meadows

We passed one day hiker. The big group did not catch us. There are several ups and downs along the ridge. Not too bad overall. The trailhead is at 2500' and the summit is 5816'. We kept moving at a steady pace though photos did slow us down. Dropping down from the last bump we found more snow and the beginning or fields of glacier lilies. They were as thick as I have ever seen. We saw a camp at the low point but chose to continue on.

Buttercups
Buttercups
Summit Of Benchmark Mt.
Summit Of Benchmark Mt.
Poets Ridge
Poets Ridge
Thick With Glacier Lilies
Thick With Glacier Lilies

Climbing up with all the glacier lilies slowed us considerably. At a trail junction we went left a short way to find a large campsite. This was only a few hundred feet below the summit and has trees for shelter and very nice views. We decided not to stop here. Instead we climbed to the summit hopeful of finding space for two tents. Although there is snow on parts of the trail up it is easy to follow the ridge to the top. It was almost 2:30 when we reached the summit. There was maybe one tent spot. I dropped my pack and headed down the ridge. Benchmark Mountain is a ridge with a slightly higher spot in the center. The path continues past the top staying right on the crest. Just west of the crest there is still snow. No problem finding water.

Benchmark Summit
Benchmark Summit
White Meets Green
White Meets Green

I found a square cut out spot on the crest. Another spot on rocky dirt was not totally flat but would work for one more tent. I went back to the summit and we all went to the sites. Bob and Kolleen took the larger spot for their Tarptent Double Rainbow. I brought me Tarptent Rainbow. We had camp set up quickly. With nearly 7 hours of daylight left we sat down to relax. Fantastic views from the summit. The Pacific Crest Trail is just a ridge over to the east. Skykomish Peak was close by. Kyes is to the northwest then Sloan, Bedal, Pugh, Baker, Glacier, and so many more. Even Mt. Rainier was out to the south along with Stuart, Daniel, and Hinman.

I found a big tree below the ridge to hang food. Bob was busy melting snow for dinner and drinking water. The high was forecast to be in the low 60s at that elevation but it was much warmer. With no shade the snow was the only way to keep cool. This problem was not indefinite. After dinner clouds began to come in. We heard voices and saw three hikers below to the east. Turns out they were nwhikers. We hollered and they came up to visit. They took the first big campsite and were out for a little more hiking. After that we saw a hiker on the summit. He came to visit. Tag Man is also an nwhiker. He was in the 8 person group from Bremerton that we had seen at the trailhead. They took the campsite a few hundred feet below the summit.

Fly By
Fly By
Summit Camp
Summit Camp
Summit Heather
Summit Heather
Clouds Around Glacier
Clouds Around Glacier
Bundled Up
Bundled Up
Evening Clouds
Evening Clouds

After they left we were along on top. The wind began to pick up and made it less comfortable to stay out of the tents. Not a great sunset though the clouds were turned a little orange as the sun set. By 9:00 we headed indoors. The wind was much stronger than forecast. It was a steady 10 mph with gust to maybe 20+ mph. The ground was very soft where my tent sat. I placed big rocks over the stakes as they did not stick well. I figured I would be fine.

At about 11:30 two stakes gave way. The tent was flapping and woke me up before the collapse. My Rainbow turned into a Rainbivy. The pole still give me a foot of headroom. I could get dressed and head out to try to set it back up and have the flapping or I could do nothing. Nothing won. It worked pretty well. At 5:30 am I did get up and saw a 10 lb. rock had been moved by the wind to allow the collapse. I placed an even bigger rock and went back to bed.

Cloudy Sunrise
Cloudy Sunrise

It was mid winter when we climbed out of our tents with puffy layers, and raincoats on. Felt like February not mid July. We broke camp at 8:45 and the wind wind died down a little earlier. Total cloud cover at 5:30 slowly broke and we had nice views before heading down. Sun on top of some clouds was great to photograph. As we dropped off the summit and went over the next high point we dropped back into some clouds. We met one group of dayhikers on the ridge and a few others on the lower trail. Not very many folks on the route all weekend.

Bob At Work
Bob At Work
Glacier Above Clouds
Glacier Above Clouds
Mt. Baker
Mt. Baker
Morning Light On Sloan
Morning Light On Sloan
Wall Of Angry Clouds
Wall Of Angry Clouds
Kyes Over Clouds
Kyes Over Clouds
One Last Glacier Peak View
One Last Glacier Peak View
Sun And Clouds
Sun And Clouds
Glacier Lilies Everywhere
Glacier Lilies Everywhere
Glacier Lily Close Up
Glacier Lily Close Up

It was a great weekend. Sun and heat followed by clouds and cool. Miles of great meadows. Whole slopes of glacier lilies in full bloom. It was great to camp on the summit and see what we had of a sunset and sunrise. It was a relaxing weekend as we had a long stay on the summit. Nice to get out with Bob and Kolleen again and nice to get in a backpacking trip. West Cady Ridge is a great meadow walk and the summit of Benchmark has some amazing views. I will be back.

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Hiking Northwest
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Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
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Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver
PostSun Jul 18, 2010 8:00 pm 
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TP -

Gorgeous pictures!  Love the evening shots.  Nice, nice, nice!!!   agree.gif  winksmile.gif

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Four-paw buddy lets me tag along!
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Tag Man
side hiller



Joined: 20 May 2008
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Tag Man
side hiller
PostSun Jul 18, 2010 9:03 pm 
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What A beautiful weekend! It was real nice to get to meet you all. My group from the Peninsula Wilderness Club and I left shortly after we saw you guys this morning. We ended up doing a big loop and came down Pass Creek trail. We had to ford Pass Creek and another bigger one ( NF Skykomish River?), but the trip was otherwise uneventful. Oh yeah, lot of snow on the Pass Creek side but we were able to find the trail OK. That whole Pass Creek side needs some serious work or its going to disappear. Lot of down trees and brushy, to the point where you couldn't hardly see the trail in front of you. Oh, and the obvious issue of washed out bridges. Otherwise this part of the hike was wonderful and offered a lot of variety. I really enjoyed it. After I have had a few nights to process some of the pictures, I will post them here as well as my own trip report.

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My personal blog

Peninsula Wilderness Club
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kathyb/oldgrrrl
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kathyb/oldgrrrl
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PostSun Jul 18, 2010 9:24 pm 
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m .
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vbv
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This was an OMG Amazing Hike! And nice to meet four NWhikers including two super cute Chi's.
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too tired to fix the captions
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TrailPair
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TrailPair
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PostMon Jul 19, 2010 6:47 am 
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JimK wrote:
That's Trail Pair's Tarptent Double Rainbow. Not to be confused with my Tarptent Rainbivy that also was on the summit.

Jim K's tarp tent rain bivy also acts as a tarp tent lean to with the right wind conditions!  lol.gif   doh.gif

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This thing called work is interfering with my play
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Foist
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Joined: 08 May 2006
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Foist
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PostMon Jul 19, 2010 6:58 am 
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Sweet. beautiful photos. Great idea, that's the way to do it.   up.gif  up.gif
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BadDog
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BadDog
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PostMon Jul 19, 2010 1:40 pm 
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I got home to find a picture of K and Lupe as the background on my computer!   biggrin.gif  My basement guy had read your report and surprised me with the photo.   smile.gif   Anyhow, really nice pics, especially the glacier lillies.
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Highwalker's Daughter
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Highwalker's Daughter
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PostMon Jul 19, 2010 4:19 pm 
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Yeah, I wish I could have gone on this one, but it was not to be - mom duties took priority.  I would have love to have seen those chiwawas in person!  At least my friends got to enjoy it.
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TrailPair
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TrailPair
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PostMon Jul 19, 2010 4:37 pm 
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BadDog wrote:
I got home to find a picture of K and Lupe as the background on my computer!   biggrin.gif  My basement guy had read your report and surprised me with the photo.   smile.gif   Anyhow, really nice pics, especially the glacier lillies.

What could be better than lying in the sun with a chihuahua on your tummy! smile.gif

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This thing called work is interfering with my play
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Bryan K
Shameless Peakbagger



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
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Bryan K
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PostMon Jul 19, 2010 5:51 pm 
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Damn that snow melted out fast! That looks so much more beautiful now than it did just a few weeks ago. Amazing photos  up.gif  What a great summit to spend the night, glad you guys had a great trip.

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www.youtube.com/bkraai | www.flickr.com/photos/bkraai/sets/
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JimK
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PostTue Jul 20, 2010 12:56 pm 
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My report and photos are now posted above in the 5th post on this thread.

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Hiking Northwest
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