Forum Index > Trip Reports > Florence Peak twice (almost) - A learning experience 2/10/11
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MountainMan
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Joined: 15 Jul 2008
Posts: 366 | TRs
Location: San Diego
MountainMan
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PostFri Feb 18, 2011 9:24 pm 
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I got a kind of late start from the Carbon River Ranger station, but I was hoping to be able to do Florence in an afternoon.  It was a nice sunny day, about 36 degrees at the TH, and the forecast was for clouds and rain/snow in the coming days, so this was my best opportunity for awhile.  The ranger said snowshoes weren't necessary, but that it might be icy, so I left them in the car and just brought my crampons and ice axe.  I wanted to be prepared for the worst, since Brian had turned around just before the summit a couple of weeks before due to a coating of ice on top.

I headed up the Boundary trail which starts in a very nice mossy forest, but quickly climbs above it.

Start of trail.
Start of trail.
Nature trail loop at the start.
Nature trail loop at the start.
Starting to head up.
Starting to head up.
Boundary trail.
Boundary trail.

A little ways up there's a view down to the Carbon River because the whole hillside slid away just below the trail (either somebody put the trail in exactly the right place or they had to reroute it after the slide).

Slide area from trail.
Slide area from trail.
Slide zoomed.
Slide zoomed.

The rest of this trail is forested nearly the entire way except for a view of Sweet Peak just before reaching the Alki Crest and a couple of minor views from the crest.  I started seeing snow at about 2800'.

Starting to see snow.
Starting to see snow.
Icicles
Icicles

After passing the waterfall there were no more tracks.  I only saw two other guys on my way up, nobody else all day.  The trail was still easy enough to follow since there was only a couple of inches of snow at most.

Waterfall
Waterfall
Waterfall
Waterfall
Waterfall
Waterfall

I was pushing myself some because I wanted to make the top and get as far back down as possible before dark.  I did stop for occasional pics though. 

Small critter tracks.
Small critter tracks.
Rabbit tracks, looks like.
Rabbit tracks, looks like.
Trail
Trail
Looking up
Looking up
Icicles
Icicles
More small critter tracks.
More small critter tracks.
Sweet Peak
Sweet Peak

I reached the lower end of the Alki Crest at around 4500' and started following it up.  There's definitely a trail all the way along the ridge plus occasional flagging.  The ridge line was in the sun and I was constantly being showered with tree rain and chunks of ice the rest of the way until I got out of the trees near the top.

Tree rain
Tree rain
Tree rain
Tree rain
Squirrel
Squirrel
Coyote track?
Coyote track?
Clearing
Clearing
Coming out of the trees.
Coming out of the trees.

At this point I put on crampons because the final bit was a very steep snow slope. 

Tree shadow
Tree shadow
Glimpse of the top.
Glimpse of the top.
Slope up to false summit.
Slope up to false summit.

The snow was deeper here, but nicely consolidated, so I had excellent traction with the crampons.  After a couple of adjustments to the crampons I quickly reached the top of the false summit.  The views finally started about 40-50 feet below the false summit and they were excellent! up.gif   I could see the true summit a short distance away, but I took several pictures here, since I wasn't sure if I could make it.

Looking toward Puget Sound.
Looking toward Puget Sound.
Summit of Florence.
Summit of Florence.

Pano from false summit of Florence Peak:
Rainier
Rainier

As it turns out, there was a very short steep snow slope to go down and then some snow covered rocks to climb up.  Fortunately I didn't encounter the ice Brian had described and I didn't have much trouble reaching the summit.  The crampons definitely helped.  It would've been a lot harder with out them.  I didn't feel I needed the ice axe though, I just used poles.  I got some more pics here, but didn't stay too long because it was late.

Me on top.
Me on top.
False summit of Florence.
False summit of Florence.

I headed back to the false summit.

False summit of Florence.
False summit of Florence.
Snow covered rocks below summit.
Snow covered rocks below summit.
False summit of Florence.
False summit of Florence.
St Helens
St Helens
Just below the summit.
Just below the summit.
Almost back to the False summit.
Almost back to the False summit.

Then I headed down.  I was trying to hurry, so I could get as far as possible before dark and needing to use the light.

Slope down from false summit.  Somehow, I don't think BC would like this.
Slope down from false summit.  Somehow, I don't think BC would like this.
My tracks
My tracks

A little ways down from the top I noticed something fall out of my pack.  I stopped, checked the pack and sure enough I had left a pocket unzipped.  I put things back in and looked around for anything else.  I tried to remember what else was in there.  I had transferred stuff from my usual day pack to my overnight pack so I could more easily carry the ice axe and snowshoes.  So, that meant my pack wasn't arranged the way I'm used to.  At that point I was so focused on getting down, that I couldn't really remember what all I had put in there or whether there was anything else important in that pocket. 

I continued down keeping the crampons on for the extra traction until the snow thinned out.  I made good time coming down.  Had to use my light for maybe the last half hour or so.  When I reached the car I started thinking about where I had put my keys.  That's when I finally remembered I put them in that pocket that had been open!  I felt like such an idiot!  Fortunately I like to be prepared and I do carry a backup key (it was in a safer spot), so I was able to get in and drive.  However I wasn't legal because I had put the keys in the ziplock bag that holds my car registration, but what was I going to do?  Plus I later realized my wallet had been in there too!  Then I felt even dumber.  Why hadn't I remembered or at least gone back to look for things?  I considered going back up in the dark, but I was already tired and wet.  That would've just been too hard.  I knew I would just have to go home, repack, rest and come back in the morning.

Next day 2-11-11

I started earlier this time.  There was nobody else at the trail head when I got there around 7:45am.  The forecast was right.  It was all gray and overcast this day.  It had actually warmed up overnight into the low 40's, so there was less snow than the day before.  It was kind of weird seeing my tracks from the previous day because when I made them I had never expected to see them again.

Track from day before.
Track from day before.
Crampon track
Crampon track

Otherwise, the trip up was uneventful.  I put on yaktrax at around 3000' since the melting snow was pretty slippery.  Interestingly, without sun there was no tree rain on the crest, but it was windier, so pretty cold.  Once I got about half way up the crest to Florence I started keeping an eye out for anything I might have lost the day before.  Sure enough about a third to a quarter mile from the top I came across a hat and sunglasses case.

Hat and case
Hat and case

I looked around carefully and went back a little to make sure I hadn't missed anything.  Then continued and just a little further on I found both the keys and wallet!  I was very relieved! biggrin.gif   They were about where I had hoped to find them, although I was prepared to go all the way back to the summit if I had to.  I continued on and soon found my old sunglasses too!  I went on to just before the false summit, didn't find anything else and decided that was it and headed back. 

Wallet and keys
Wallet and keys
old sunglasses
old sunglasses

I took a few more pics of the waterfall on the way down.

Waterfall
Waterfall
Waterfall
Waterfall
Waterfall
Waterfall
Waterfall
Waterfall
Waterfall
Waterfall

Got back to the car just after 1pm.


Lessons learned:

1. When taking something out of a pocket in my backpack, always close the pocket again right away.
2. When returning something to my pack (such as a tripod for a self pic), always put it back in the same place in case I forgot lesson 1.
3. Put the most important things in the safest place in the pack (this is something I usually do, but neglected to do this time).
3. Starting late should be avoided.
4. When doing a hike that I know I'll be coming out in the dark, accept it and don't hurry to the point of forgetting something important.

--------------
Slow down, take notice, savor the moment, appreciate the world around you and everything that you have.
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EastKing
Summit Addict



Joined: 28 Mar 2007
Posts: 2048 | TRs
Location: 40 hours week work; 40 hours summit
EastKing
Summit Addict
PostFri Feb 18, 2011 9:35 pm 
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Good TR!  up.gif  up.gif Glad you got to Florence. I will be there fairly soon. Nice TR and photos!!!! Hopefully we will combine on a climb once again soon!

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I am addicted to summits! I can't eat, drink or breath without them. Life without mountains would really suck.

http://www.myspace.com/climbandsurfmackg | http://www.summitpost.org/user_page.php?user_id=894
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Type E
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Joined: 19 Aug 2006
Posts: 1314 | TRs

Type E
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PostFri Feb 18, 2011 10:06 pm 
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Sounds like something I would do. It's a good thing it didn't snow or you would have to wait until Spring.

E

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Please follow me at: http://alpinelakesaficionado.blogspot.com/
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Bernardo
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Bernardo
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PostFri Feb 18, 2011 10:27 pm 
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It must have felt great to find that wallet and keys!
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MountainMan
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Joined: 15 Jul 2008
Posts: 366 | TRs
Location: San Diego
MountainMan
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PostFri Feb 18, 2011 11:31 pm 
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Yes, I was very happy it didn't snow and very relieved when I found both right on the trail and not off down a hill somewhere, which BC had mentioned was a possibility when I talked to her.

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Slow down, take notice, savor the moment, appreciate the world around you and everything that you have.
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Magellan
Brutally Handsome



Joined: 26 Jul 2006
Posts: 13108 | TRs
Location: Inexorable descent
Magellan
Brutally Handsome
PostSat Feb 19, 2011 12:29 am 
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Glad to see you still getting out there Jason.  up.gif  Even happier you found your wallet.

I ran down a trail seven miles only to realize at the TH that I had left the zipper open.  Keys, wallet, and phone all still tucked in.  With all the bouncing it was a minor miracle that they gear stayed put.
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Bryan K
Shameless Peakbagger



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 5063 | TRs
Location: Headed west soon
Bryan K
Shameless Peakbagger
PostSat Feb 19, 2011 1:04 am 
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Nice job of getting up there. I'm certainly envious that you were able to reach the summit.
Glad you were able to rescue your stuff, way cool up.gif

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www.youtube.com/bkraai | www.flickr.com/photos/bkraai/sets/
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



Joined: 13 Feb 2007
Posts: 6099 | TRs
Location: Stuck in the middle
puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks
PostSat Feb 19, 2011 1:18 am 
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Great story. I'm glad you got all your stuff back. I wasn't aware of Florence, but I like that area and may try to get down there. It looks like a great winter outing.

I had a similar thing happen on my way up the gully to Quartz Peak. I got to a big rock to take a rest and the zipper on my pack had pulled open and the main compartment was empty! I wasn't too upset since this was not a trail and no-one else would be there, and I knew pretty much exactly how I had come up and where my last rest spot was where I had all the stuff. The biggest pain was that I couldn't continue to the summit on a beautiful sunny day -- I had to turn around and go down to find my stuff. Sure enough, about 500' lower:
Wallet and keys!, water filter, rope, food, clothes. Still no tripod or old TZ5 camera, but they were 100' farther down in the dry stream bed.
Wallet and keys!, water filter, rope, food, clothes. Still no tripod or old TZ5 camera, but they were 100' farther down in the dry stream bed.

Whenever something like this happens I always figure out how to modify my routine to prevent a re-occurance. Like you, I made a new rule: On day packs with two zippers that can meet anywhere, always pull one zipper all the day over to the other side. Don't pull them both up to the top even though that's the most convenient for getting stuff out.

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Mid Fork Rocks flickr
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Bloated Chipmunk
Farblondjet



Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 2601 | TRs
Location: Margaritaville
Bloated Chipmunk
Farblondjet
PostSat Feb 19, 2011 7:12 am 
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Good job MM!  smile.gif  up.gif  I'm so glad everything worked out in the end, though I'm sure it kinda sucked to have to go almost all the way back up the pk. the very next day.  dizzy.gif  Nice view from the top!  cool.gif

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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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Snowdog
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Joined: 21 Jul 2006
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Location: on (& off) the beaten path
Snowdog
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PostMon Feb 21, 2011 10:32 am 
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Learned the hard way:
whenever you can- try to connect your keys (most awful thing to arrive at the car without) to your pack. Many packs have leashes sewn in for this, but on older packs, a mini-biner can work- attach to something sewn down,or a zipper leash, or something, then tuck them inside a pocket.

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'we don't have time for a shortcut'
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