Forum Index > Trip Reports > Sunshine & Larches on Bearjack Ridge, 10/28/12
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 4176 | TRs
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Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostTue Oct 30, 2012 10:24 pm 
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Date:  October 28, 2012
Destination:  Bearjack West 4600 & East 4800 (USGS Red Top)
Party:  Yana, Dicey (& Jack), GeoTom (& Jasper), Lindsay M, Gabriel D, Jeff H, Matt

I expected this hike to be a dud.  The destination didn't promise much scenery or challenge, since Bearjack Ridge is relatively low and forest-covered.  After all, its greatest distinction is that Bearjack West is the lowest peak on the Backcourt List.   Plus the forecast was rainy, and it seemed too late for fall color and too warm for winter snow.  Maybe it would at least be mostly dry in the Teanaway.

So I went mainly because it included several hiking friends that I haven't seen since last spring.  I figured I could enjoy some good company, even if we didn't see much and maybe got rained on.

My expectations of good company were fulfilled.  But my low expectations for weather and color were thoroughly confounded. 

The weather became warmer and sunnier as the day progressed. 

And I discovered western larches.  First there were a few, and then whole hillsides of them, all still in full color.  All my previous experiences have been with alpine larches, high up at the treeline and holding their color only briefly.  But this area had western larches mixed into the forests up and down every valley.  And they were big.  And they were bright.

Bearjack GPS Track
Bearjack GPS Track
Sunshine & Larches on Bearjack Ridge
Sunshine & Larches on Bearjack Ridge

West Bearjack 4600+ (400P)

We parked on the Jack Creek Road at 3100 feet, near the stream that's directly south of West Bearjack, and then hiked up the south ridge to its 4600-foot summit.  Travel was mostly open forest, with bits of trail most of the way.  The ridge was almost completely snow-free, with just shallow patches in a few sheltered areas.

When we got out of the car, there were a few trees with yellow foliage mixed in with the darker forest.  I assumed they were cottonwoods, until someone pointed out that they were larches.  Larches?  Still gold, and down at this low elevation?

At West Bearjack's summit, we found a register left by Fay Pullen.  Our group of seven matched the total number of other visitors in the register since 2004.

The summit with tree-covered, with only glimpse of views to some higher snowier hillsides farther north.  But what was this underfoot?  The ground was littered with wind-broken pieces of larch branches.  So I looked up higher up the surrounding trunks, and then even higher, and discovered that one of them was a larch with its golden crown standing way up high among the darker trees.  These western larches grow tall!

First larches down in the valley
First larches down in the valley
Bearjack West register
Bearjack West register
Fallen larch branches at Bearjack West
Fallen larch branches at Bearjack West

To East Bearjack

We followed the ridge eastward over small ups and downs and across Points 4464 and 4542.  Again the travel was generally easy, with a beaten track through many areas, though it seemed to be mostly game trail.  Near 4542 we found a rusted can of Borden Milkshake that looked like it had been there for decades.

More tall larches were scattered along the north side of the ridge, and then some on the crest as well, forcing me to pause frequently for photos.

Tall larch
Tall larch
More tall larches
More tall larches
Sky full of larch tops
Sky full of larch tops
Somewhere along the ridge
Somewhere along the ridge

Openings on the ridgetop revealed more clusters of larches going up Bear Creek to the north and on the opposite slopes of Jack Creek to the south, and lots more on further slopes.  This was also new to me, seeing stands of larches so thoroughly mixed into the other forest across a variety of terrain.

Larches up the North Fork Bear Creek
Larches up the North Fork Bear Creek
Larches on the opposite side of Jack Creek
Larches on the opposite side of Jack Creek

On the final slope up to East Bearjack, there was some brush thick enough to be annoying for the first tie of the day.  There were also a few more nice larch trees.

Another tall larch
Another tall larch
Larch & lichen combo
Larch & lichen combo

East Bearjack 4800+ (600P)

Along the way, I wondered if anyplace along this ridge give a good view of the thicker stands of larches we could see in the distance.  Then we hit the top of East Bearjack, and saw the view out the open southern side.  Wow!

Wow!
Wow!
Fields of Larches
Fields of Larches
More fields of larches
More fields of larches

We lingered a long time enjoying the warm sunshine.  In fact, as we lay around relaxing on the south side of the summit, snores were heard from at least one member of the group.

Group at Bearjack East summit
Group at Bearjack East summit
Summit Tea with Larches
Summit Tea with Larches
Looking back to 4542, 4464 & Bearjack West
1 label
Looking back to 4542, 4464 & Bearjack West

To Southeast Bearjack 4580

For out exit, we ran the ridge further over to Southeast Bearjack, whose east ridge held the prettiest larch slopes.  The first section was very brush again, and I shortly discovered that I had lost my GPS.  Yana used her SAR skills to organize a grid search, and found it for me.  Thank you.

Much of the larch slopes were hidden by closer trees, but the tall larches made a bright canopy far above our heads.

Tall & Skinny
Tall & Skinny
Larch canopy
Larch canopy
Larch tops catching the light
Larch tops catching the light
Group on Bearjack SE
Group on Bearjack SE

Exit

Leaving Southeast Bearjack, we followed the ridge crest down a few hundred feet, and found a sizable debris pile from what seemed to be an old camp or blind.  There were posts, bits of plywood, plastic, and an odd assortment of old food and beverage packages.  We packed up most of it and carried it out.

Garbage on the ridge
Garbage on the ridge
Cleanup of the garbage
Cleanup of the garbage

Below that, there was a very clear trail dropping most of the way back to the road.  Across the valley, the slopes were dropping into shadow, with just the upper foliage of the trees standing out bright against the darkness.

Larches falling into shadow
Larches falling into shadow
Larches falling into shadow
Larches falling into shadow

Lower down were also some nice stands of big ponderosa pines.  Lindsay pointed out the subtle butterscotch & vanilla smell of their bark.  Then it was about a two-mile hike back down the road to the cars.

It smells like butterscotch & vanilla
It smells like butterscotch & vanilla
Walking the road
Walking the road

The drive home also provided some nice color from cottonwoods in the river valleys.  The light was too low for photos, but the big bright yellow lines of cottonwoods neatly outlined the rivers both down the Teanaway River and up the Yakima River to the pass.  I was again surprised to notice the western larches scattered through the hillside forests almost all the way up to Snoqualmie Pass.  Somehow, I never went through here when they were colored enough to notice them before.

Stats:  7 miles, 2900 gain, 7:30 hours

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“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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Hulksmash
Cleaning up.



Joined: 20 Apr 2008
Posts: 7119 | TRs
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Hulksmash
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Cleaning up.
PostTue Oct 30, 2012 11:54 pm 
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Matt wrote:
Cleanup of the garbage
Cleanup of the garbage



up.gif  up.gif  10X agree.gif

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"Bears couldn't care less about us....we smell bad and don't taste too good. Bugs on the other hand see us as vending machines." - WetDog

Albuterol! it's the 11th essential
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Chief Joseph
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PostWed Oct 31, 2012 12:06 am 
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Awesome trip report. Another hike on the TD list. up.gif

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Go placidly amid the noise and waste, and remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
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lookout bob
WTA proponent.....



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WTA proponent.....
PostWed Oct 31, 2012 8:07 am 
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thanks for taking out the trash...you guys rock up.gif  up.gif  up.gif  cool.gif

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"Altitude is its own reward"
John Jerome ( from "On Mountains")
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Hikingqueen
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PostWed Oct 31, 2012 8:26 am 
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Nice report! up.gif
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Magellan
Brutally Handsome



Joined: 26 Jul 2006
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Brutally Handsome
PostWed Oct 31, 2012 8:41 am 
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Hulksmash wrote:
Matt wrote:
Cleanup of the garbage
Cleanup of the garbage



up.gif  up.gif  10X agree.gif


agree.gif  up.gif
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LadyĆsa
Surefooted Spitfire



Joined: 16 Oct 2012
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Surefooted Spitfire
PostWed Oct 31, 2012 8:50 am 
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Larches and tea!!  dance.gif  cheers.gif

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"We have one chance, one chance, to get everything right. We have one chance, one chance, and if we're lucky we might." One Chance, Modest Mouse
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 4176 | TRs
Location: Shoreline
Matt
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Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostWed Oct 31, 2012 9:42 am 
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Hulksmash wrote:
Matt wrote:
Cleanup of the garbage
Cleanup of the garbage

up.gif  up.gif  10X agree.gif

Actually, we thought of you when we found the garbage.  Our first repsonse was: "Oh, we should send Hulksmash here so this would get cleaned up."  Then we decided maybe we oughta take care of it ourselves.  Consider yourself a role model.

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“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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Blowdown
Clearing Trails



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Clearing Trails
PostWed Oct 31, 2012 11:04 am 
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Hear! Hear!
Hulksmash is MY role model!   agree.gif

Thanks and a tip-o-the-hat to Matt and crew, to the inimtable Hulksmash, and to everyone else who takes a little time and effort to make the trails a bit better for the next hiker.
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GeoTom
Custom Title



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Custom Title
PostWed Oct 31, 2012 1:47 pm 
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It was a better day than expected, even with Jasper and his person hanging around.

Thanks to dicey for forgetting a camera and sunglasses, otherwise the weather may not have been as nice.

A few photos:

No rain
No rain
Jack and Gabriel lead the way
Jack and Gabriel lead the way
Lindsay and her milk shake in a can
Lindsay and her milk shake in a can
Jack resting
Jack resting
More larches
More larches
Jasper begs from Yana
Jasper begs from Yana
Summit nap
Summit nap
Descent
Descent
Foraging
Foraging
Wild dogs
Wild dogs

Full flickr set

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alpendave
Cat Herder



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Cat Herder
PostWed Oct 31, 2012 7:26 pm 
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Very nice larches. Looks like my front yard. But bragging aside, thanks for tidying up out there. I need to remember to bring some trash hauling stuff with me from now on when I'm hiking. BTW, your larches are better than mine by virtue of the fact that yours have mountains on them wink.gif

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Like a ray of sunshine in a drought stricken land.

What we do does far more than what we think others ought to do. Inspiration is a far greater power for good than coercion. In your own life, show others the good that you wish to see in the world.
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Hiker Mama
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PostSun Nov 04, 2012 12:31 pm 
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Wonderful writeup, Matt.  Glad you got sunshine and time with friends.  And after all these years, I think it's cool that you still are learning new things.   up.gif

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My hiking w/ kids site: www.thehikermama.com
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