Forum Index > Trip Reports > Hell Fog and Tarnation on Sourdough, NCNP, 8/12-14/2013
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hermes
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hermes
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PostSat Aug 17, 2013 10:13 pm 
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The plan was to do an overnighter on Sourdough Ridge followed by another at Monogram Lake but the permit situation wasn't good at Marblemount due to both North Cascades Highway and (though I didn't know it at the time) Cascade River road being closed. Monogram was booked out until Wednesday night so I took that and two nights on Sourdough. Didn't get to trail head until 2pm and then found I didn't have my backpacking sandals so this became my first backpack in barefoots. The hike up was pleasant as it wasn't terribly warm and the trail was still damp from the recent rains. There is a lot of blowdown on the lower stretches but nothing blocking.

Fire?
Fire?
Crossing to the bright side
Crossing to the bright side
Flowers before Sourdough camp
Flowers before Sourdough camp
Camp/Lookout fork
Camp/Lookout fork
First meadow
First meadow
Diablo
Diablo

And was at lookout in short order.

Part of lightening conductor blasted off lookout
Part of lightening conductor blasted off lookout
Available gift wrapped, qualifies for Amazon Prime
Available gift wrapped, qualifies for Amazon Prime
Looking out Sourdough Ridge from Lookout
Looking out Sourdough Ridge from Lookout
Looking down to Diablo
Looking down to Diablo
Ross from Lookout
Ross from Lookout
Pierce Mountain trail
Pierce Mountain trail
Sourdough Lake
Sourdough Lake
Sourdough Ridge
Sourdough Ridge
Seam of Quartz
Seam of Quartz

Headed out ridge on good boot path but it was very hard to make progress with such stupendous views both near and far

miniature Lupin
miniature Lupin
Looking back to Lookout from Sourdough Ridge
Looking back to Lookout from Sourdough Ridge
Jack and Ross from ridge
Jack and Ross from ridge
Good runoff from this snow bank
Good runoff from this snow bank
Big Jack!
Big Jack!
Snowfield etc
Snowfield etc
Lots of old bear poop on ridge
Lots of old bear poop on ridge
Tarn 1
Tarn 1
Tarn 1 again
Tarn 1 again
North West
North West
Evening sun on Lookout
Evening sun on Lookout
I really should get going
I really should get going

It was getting late and I still had not set up for the night but...

Ok, quit looking around
Ok, quit looking around
NOW!
NOW!
Oh-oh
Oh-oh
Last one
Last one
Doomed
Doomed

The clouds settled it and I continued out the ridge as fast as I could - the boot path not so clear in the dwindling light and sometimes just not there at all. I had seen a large tarn from a knoll a bit beyond Tarn 1 and hoped to get there for the night but darkness came first so I just set up near some trees and went to sleep. Woke to distant lightening during the night - valleys were fogged in but sky was completely clear - Perseids in great form - many, many shooting stars. Back to sleep for another few hours and woke to dense fog - not the swirling, atmospheric type but the dense scary type with visibility down to 16 steps (that's how many steps I could take from my shelter before it disappeared). This made it unwise to continue out the ridge and made me regret rushing the night before and not taking care to note my route so I could make my way back. After breakfast, with no sign of the fog clearing, I decided that I would pack up and at least move back to where there was a clear boot path between me and the main trail. The fog was somewhat lighter in the gullies and very dense on the high points.

Flower gully
Flower gully
Well, How did I get here?
Well, How did I get here?
I think I remember this
I think I remember this

Once I got back to recognizable boot path I reset up my shelter in case the weather worsened and set out to see what a lookout looks like when you can't look out.

Phew - what a relief
Phew - what a relief
Saved!
Saved!

Wandered down the trail towards Pierce Camp and soon magnificent gardens came into view and I came out below the fog.

Clearing to reveal beautiful gardens towards Pierce
Clearing to reveal beautiful gardens towards Pierce

Of course when I looked back up it was clearing above too so I headed back up to the lookout to admire the views there again.

Clearing to reveal beautiful gardens towards Pierce
Clearing to reveal beautiful gardens towards Pierce
Running back up to blue sky
Running back up to blue sky
Tease
Tease
Diablo puff
Diablo puff
The Jack layer
The Jack layer
Davis Direct!
Davis Direct!
Looks even better
Looks even better
Almost clear
Almost clear
American Border
American Border
Still some scrubbing to do
Still some scrubbing to do
Ah
Ah
Azure Lake Cloud
Azure Lake Cloud
Davis completely clear
Davis completely clear
Sourdough Lake is back
Sourdough Lake is back

Just as the last of the clouds cleared, a day hiker arrived with impeccable timing - from the North Cascades Institute. She was full of info on the area and we had a pleasant chat. She pointed out Azure Lake and I promised to get some photos of it from further out the ridge (see below - hope you get to see this!)
Headed off, stopping at my shelter and went out the ridge again under completely clear skies. After the torrential rain on Sunday all the tarns were full!

Tarn 2 - near old home
Tarn 2 - near old home
Missed Tarn 3 on way out ridge
Missed Tarn 3 on way out ridge
Tarn 4
Tarn 4
Tarn 6
Tarn 6

I was surprised to come upon a stretch of constructed trail leading from a cairned route up what I think was Sourdough Creek

Constructed Trail!!!!
Constructed Trail!!!!
Azure Lake
Azure Lake
Azure zoom
Azure zoom
Davis cliff
Davis cliff
Tarn 7
Tarn 7
Tarn 8 (this one actually seems to be a little lake at the head of Sourdough Creek)
Tarn 8 (this one actually seems to be a little lake at the head of Sourdough Creek)

Had to turn back at this point but I didn't mind - the ridge walk was one of the best ever!
Tarn 9 (Azure in background)
Tarn 9 (Azure in background)
Lookout back in view
Lookout back in view
Tarn 4
Tarn 4
Tarn 3 (missed on way out ridge)
Tarn 3 (missed on way out ridge)
Tarn 2
Tarn 2
Not scared anymore!
Not scared anymore!
Snowbank from hell
Snowbank from hell
Love this place
Love this place
Happy Hiker back at Tarn 1
Happy Hiker back at Tarn 1

Had a leisurely dinner with the intention of enjoying the sunset from around my shelter but the wind dropped before sunset and the bugs got very bad - didn't want to put more deet on so retired to my shelter and passed out.
The next morning started out promising

Just before dawn from Tarn 1
Just before dawn from Tarn 1
Almost Dawn
Almost Dawn
Alpenglow
Alpenglow
Alpenglow
Alpenglow
Morning views
Morning views
Morning views
Morning views

but clouds moved in so I packed up and headed down.

Heading down
Heading down
Tortured rock on Sourdough Ridge
Tortured rock on Sourdough Ridge
Almost down
Almost down

and was back at the car in a couple of hours - big mistake - should have taken it much slower and saved my knees for Monogram! Many parties heading up when I was coming down. Headed into Marblemount for breakfast and then out to the Lookout Mountain/Monogram Lake trailhead. It was spitting rain as I started up and my knees were not feeling any better so I turned around, went to the ranger station, cancelled my Monogram permit and headed for home. The skies lightened up a bit as I went through Rockport so I headed up Sauk Mountain - had one light shower on the way up but otherwise dry. Just above the split for Sauk Lake, below the trail a marmot was trying to get something out of a pop can. Shame on whoever threw it down there - I couldn't get to it so it's still there.

Didn't smell as good as it looks
Didn't smell as good as it looks
Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!
Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!
Now that's a meadow
Now that's a meadow
Now that's a meadow
Now that's a meadow
Zig-Zag
Zig-Zag
Rather large tag for a butterfly!
Rather large tag for a butterfly!
Baker (not Sourdough)
Baker (not Sourdough)
Sauk Lake
Sauk Lake
Drinking Marmot
Drinking Marmot

Nice little consolation prize to end a great outing! Thanks to all who posted info here - used all of it!
Lessons learned: Give fog time to clear - it will. Descend steep trail slowly!
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olderthanIusedtobe
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Joined: 05 Sep 2011
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PostSun Aug 18, 2013 9:52 am 
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hermes wrote:
Lessons learned: Give fog time to clear - it will.

Except when it doesn't.  Or when it turns from fog to low clouds with rain.

up.gif  Nice TR, looks like you had a good trip.
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puzzlr
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Joined: 13 Feb 2007
Posts: 6534 | TRs
Location: Stuck in the middle
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PostSun Aug 18, 2013 10:39 am 
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Quite the adventure, and remembering to take pictures in the fog even though it doesn't seem to make sense.

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Mid Fork Rocks flickr
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Hell Fog and Tarnation on Sourdough, NCNP, 8/12-14/2013
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