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timberghost
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PostMon Feb 22, 2021 5:38 am 
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Unique plastered trees
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cascadeclimber
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PostMon Feb 22, 2021 8:50 am 
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Mailbox Sunday. Started up around 11:00 after waiting a few minutes for a parking spot (the upper lot gate is closed). I was surprised to find so much snow at the trailhead.

The temp when I left Issaquah was about 48. Trailhead temp was 40. That's an unusual difference.

The trail was slushy and slippery in places, but not icy- temps seemed isothermal until I got to treeline. Just one pair of other folks there and I added a layer and put on goggles before going out into the wind and driving rain and freezing rain.

The switchback trail in the boulders is obliterated. I follow a set of track starting directly up the boulders, but that one person turned around shortly after leaving the trail. From there to the top I was mostly breaking trail. The wind, as usual, was strongest on the boulder field. Gusts stopped me in my tracks multiple times.

Above the boulders and around the corner, there were deep drifts- knee to mid-thigh. Never seen them that big there. It was arduous getting to the top- trying to see the  trail where the old snow was packed down under the new snow for less postholing. I erred to the right on the first, longer pitch to stay off the broader open area. The snowpack there is deep and water-soaked to the ground. Areas I punched through I could see plain slush down deep. Most of it has a medium surface crust.

Vis was poor. Up higher I was careful to stay climber's right as I suspect that cornices have now formed to the left. I didn't stop at the top- pirouetting and immediately starting down, with cold, cold rain being driven through my softshell pants and running down my jacket into my gloves.

Goggles. I don't remember when I started tossing a pair of clear ski goggles in my pack for Mailbox in winter, but they are invaluable. The wind tends to be out of the south/southwest and so blows right into your face on the descent.

In the deep drifts just before turning the corner to the boulders I noticed the Snowline walking crampon had come off my left foot. I was not about to turn around to look for it. It was kind of an interesting experience getting back down with just one, but the softer snow meant it wasn't awful. I cratered once, at the very last switchback before the flats, right after thinking, "this corner could be slippery and is the last place I could fall today." Hah.

Back at the car, the full lot had winnowed to three cars. I put on dry clothes and snuck in a Cable Line before heading home.

Excellent day of Type 2 fun on Mailbox. Nice to have some solitude up there.

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If not now, when?
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zephyr
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PostWed Mar 03, 2021 7:17 pm 
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Dutch Miller Gap trail as far as Goldmyer.  Wednesday, March 3, 2021.  (No photos.)

Well, I made it to the Middle Fork.  It was a beautiful day.  The river was resplendent and the surrounding peaks were stunning against that blue sky.  The main paved road was in fine condition all the way to the Taylor River bridge where one had to navigate around big piles of slush and icy potholes.  The the drive along FR 5620 was a real adventure.  Snow, compact and frozen in the morning, then deep and slushy in the afternoon covered the last four or so miles.

The various washouts were their usual selves and weren't too difficult if you go slow and choose your angle of entry and exit.  One of the worst washouts was in the beginning near that area where they store cut logs, piles of gravel, and rock.  It's small in width, but very deep.  I just don't remember that one from last year.

The parking lot at Dingford Creek was covered in snow--fairly deep in the middle.  I hiked along the Dutch Miller Gap trail as far as the turn-off for Goldmyer Hot Springs.  I didn't see any tracks going further up that trail.  But the snow was fairly deep all the way from Dingford along that road/trail.  I would say at least 1-1.5 feet.  The hiking was  fairly easy in the morning, but the return was more challenging as it became a post-hole fest.  Trekking poles were very useful.  I only saw a few other people on the Forest road--three hikers, then a few vehicles, two cyclists, and one motorcyclist.

This time of year all the alders, maples, and other deciduous trees are bare and lots of sun illuminates that trail and the river.  The river itself was beautiful, clear, and colorful in places.
~z
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timberghost
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PostWed Mar 03, 2021 7:46 pm 
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Pictures?
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zephyr
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PostWed Mar 03, 2021 10:02 pm 
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timberghost wrote:
Pictures?

Sorry.  They're in my head.  wink.gif     This is more of conditions report.  ~z
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puzzlr
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PostThu Mar 04, 2021 3:42 pm 
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I was out there the same day -- it was perfect weather. You describe the road well. Here are some photos from Wednesday. Was that your car at the Dingford trailhead?

Brilliant snow on Garfield today
Brilliant snow on Garfield today
The avalanche debris 1/4 mile before Dingford trailhead is looking really dirty now and was easy to drive over. No ruts are forming. A work party from Goldmyer partially dug this out last Saturday. It came down on 02/22.
The avalanche debris 1/4 mile before Dingford trailhead is looking really dirty now and was easy to drive over. No ruts are forming. A work party from Goldmyer partially dug this out last Saturday. It came down on 02/22.
There was a lot of snow at the Dingford trailhead. The left side under the trees was partially melted out
There was a lot of snow at the Dingford trailhead. The left side under the trees was partially melted out
Dingford trailhead gate
Dingford trailhead gate

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Mid Fork Rocks flickr
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zephyr
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PostThu Mar 04, 2021 6:27 pm 
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puzzlr wrote:
I was out there the same day -- it was perfect weather. You describe the road well. Here are some photos from Wednesday. Was that your car at the Dingford trailhead?

Haha...  Yes, that was me.  It was such a beautiful day.  Your photos capture that bluebird sky we had and those striking, snow-covered peaks.

When I arrived, I initially got stuck in the deeper snow a little.  Luckily I had brought a shovel and it came in very handy.  I always have an old Army surplus foxhole shovel, but this  time I brought the standard garden variety.  Good call.  ~z
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