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geyer
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PostTue May 30, 2017 8:18 pm 
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Back already with my second NWHikers post! Am I welcome here yet  biggrin.gif ?

Last Saturday I set out to tackle the Tank Lakes for the second time this year (I tried a midnight crusade on the area during a spectacular weather window in late January, but the 3 mile road walk threw off my mojo and I ran out of time after only 14.5 miles RT). This time I was not to be denied!

You may have seen my Grassy Point TR from yesterday where I said I packed 50 lbs on my back and questioned my sanity -- well this time around it was more like 60 lbs! I packed for everything. I had aspirations of climbing Hinman, so I brought the ice axe and crampons. I knew there was a good chance I would get tired, so I packed my food in a bear vault in case I had to camp low. And I packed for comfort with my tent, because I really didn't want to deal with a bivy if I was going to do astrophotography. Snowshoes were also involved. Why go through all this trouble? Well, I hope the pictures can do the talking...

I left the trailhead at about 7:30AM and was at the Foss River crossing in about two hours. Not too long after, at about 3150 ft elevation, the snow began to appear. And it wasn't like the firm stuff you can easily walk on. Nooooo. It was all mini snow bridges with shin-crushing 2 foot drops to the trail below. This went away for a while, but then returned full force at about 3700 ft elevation. It was here that I lost the trail because I was blindly following someone's tracks that were heading toward Al Lake instead of Jade Lake. I backtracked and made a sketchy at best snow bridge crossing (a common theme on this trip) over the Jade stream to make it back to the east side of Jade Lake. Once at Jade Lake, the views started opening up and I met my first twosome of the day. They had caught up to me due to my not-so-savvy routefinding. Their goal was to traverse the entire Foss Loop over the three day weekend. We all decided that the snow was too mushy at this point and put our snowshoes on.

First Views
First Views

Once past Jade Lake, there were approximately +/- 1000 more snow bridges to cross before the true beauty of this hike really started showing through.

That valley below La Bohn Peak is just incredible
That valley below La Bohn Peak is just incredible
GP looking nice
GP looking nice
The snowfields really open up. Humans for scale
The snowfields really open up. Humans for scale
This ridge was pretty fun
This ridge was pretty fun

I did say that I had aspirations of climbing Hinman, so I'll briefly cover that - on the way up, I came across two guys who were also climbing Hinman, but turned around when they "ran into a cliff." I'm not really sure where that would have happened, but their advice was to stay to the left around La Bohn Lakes. Whether they meant going up the waterfall gully to the lakes, or going up to the glacier once past the lakes, I'm not sure. Either way, I decided against the climb because I was feeling more exhausted than anticipated and there were avalanches covering the entire bowl. What I have here are pictures with the traditional route in red and a possible route in purple. The purple looked to be much less steep and avy-strewn, but I didn't investigate thoroughly.
Hinman Routes
Hinman Routes
Hinman Routes - Red = traditional, purple = alternate winter route?
Hinman Routes - Red = traditional, purple = alternate winter route?
Hinman Routes
Hinman Routes

The rest of the way up to Tank Lakes was almost soothing with how smooth the treeless, snow-capped hills were. Would've been a blast to do some low-incline laps on skis with.

The sunset just NW of Otter Lake was spectacular:
enjoying dinner and a view
enjoying dinner and a view

And the pre-sunrise action wasn't so bad either:
Summit Chief & Chimney Rock Pre-sunrise
Summit Chief & Chimney Rock Pre-sunrise
Pre-sunrise wide angle of otter lake
Pre-sunrise wide angle of otter lake

But what was really, truly the highlight of the trip awaited me after waking up at 1:38 AM to take shots of the milky way over Summit Chief. I hadn't slept much all night and found it strangely suspicious that even the inside of my tent was glowing on a moonless night. When I stepped out of my tent, I took a look to the north and thought "how can there possibly be that much light pollution from Stevens Pass?" I didn't really think twice about it and started taking a few milky way shots. Then my brain flipped a switch and I was like OH MY GOD THAT'S THE AURORA!
I could not believe what I was seeing
I could not believe what I was seeing
Maybe the shot(s) of a lifetime?
Maybe the shot(s) of a lifetime?
Summit chief + milky way
Summit chief + milky way

It lasted about an hour longer before dying down - which is also when I took that panorama shot. I can only imagine how much more amazing it would have been had I shot it a few minutes earlier when the pillars were still shooting across the sky!!

However, all good things must come to an end and the next morning I was on my way out back to the car.
That valley below La Bohn Peak is just incredible
That valley below La Bohn Peak is just incredible

[Footwear follow-up] Equipped with a new pair of boots, insoles, and socks, I did not get a single new blister, which is kind of amazing considering new boots are basically just asking to rub you the wrong way. The socks I wore were Injinji ultra-thin running toe socks under a traditional wool sock. I think this did the trick for the blisters between my toes. There was one issue, which has been nagging over the last few years - the heel was rubbing on my achilles bone spur to the point where it was somewhat painful. I'm getting the boots heat molded at REI as I type this. Hopefully that fixes my only issue I had. And in response to mbravenboer, these new boots stayed completely dry through all the spring snow, so big ups to the Asolo  Fugitive GTX.
One more thing - I'd never used trekking poles over the course of an entire hike before this trip, and I'd also never felt my knees be so fresh the next day after a hike before. Methinks these two facts are correlated.


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fourteen410
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PostTue May 30, 2017 8:25 pm 
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up.gif  up.gif
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SKS
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PostTue May 30, 2017 8:37 pm 
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Beautiful! Thanks!
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awilsondc
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PostTue May 30, 2017 8:47 pm 
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Love this!  So awesome.  That milky way, aurora panorama... stun.gif  Jackpot!  Pretty incredible, and I'm sure it was even better in person!  I've been meaning to make it up there for a few years now.  Maybe this will be the year.  Thanks for adding to my stoke and thanks for sharing!  up.gif  up.gif  up.gif  up.gif
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Brockton
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PostTue May 30, 2017 9:07 pm 
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Those were beautiful pictures.  I've always wanted to see an aurora like that.  Thanks!
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olderthanIusedtobe
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PostTue May 30, 2017 9:31 pm 
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Wow, the aurora and milky way shots are great!  up.gif   Everything up there looks beautiful snow covered.  It's beautiful when the lakes melt out, too.

Your volcano shot is Glacier Pk. I'm pretty sure not Baker.
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mbravenboer
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PostTue May 30, 2017 9:41 pm 
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Very nice! I'm glad you new shoes are working out well.

My Tank Lakes trip a couple of years was also original a plan to go to Hinman wink.gif. Still haven't reached Hinman, amusingly. There was some route discussion for Hinman in my report from last summer also: http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8018734 . Maybe it helps. The normal winter route you described is the route that Eve used, but I think most people go over the ridge.
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geyer
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PostTue May 30, 2017 10:01 pm 
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Quote:
Your volcano shot is Glacier Pk. I'm pretty sure not Baker.

Wow you're absolutely right. Not sure how I even thought otherwise, considering I was right next to old GP the week before
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rubywrangler
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PostTue May 30, 2017 10:04 pm 
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Wow, stunning night shots!   up.gif  up.gif   
And  up.gif on the injinjis too. I started wearing them (alone) a few years back and haven't had a single blister since. Love em.

Your typical route is not the one I took to get up Hinman last year either.  I went around the south side of the biggest La Bohn lake and then up.  Was mid-summer though.
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geyer
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PostTue May 30, 2017 10:05 pm 
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Quote:
http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8018734

That looks.... Completely unrecognizable
I did walk past the necklace valley cabin and only barely noticed it. There was a 12" melt gap between the door and a 5' wall of snow that could've allowed me to get in, but the inside just looked absolutely wrecked.
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zephyr
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PostTue May 30, 2017 10:06 pm 
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geyer wrote:
Summit chief + milky way
Summit chief + milky way

Spectacular photos, geyer.  My question is to you regarding this photo and the others.  Are you actually viewing what we see here as you stand there in person, or does the photography allow you to see more of what's there--after the fact?  Particularly those cloud like formations of the galaxy. (Not sure if I am phrasing this right.) Thanks, ~z
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geyer
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PostTue May 30, 2017 10:09 pm 
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Quote:
  I went around the south side of the biggest La Bohn lake and then up.  Was mid-summer though. 

From what I'm gathering, there isn't really a "typical route" once you're up there. It's kind of up to your discretion
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geyer
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PostTue May 30, 2017 10:23 pm 
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zephyr wrote:
Are you actually viewing what we see here as you stand there in person, or does the photography allow you to see more of what's there--after the fact?

On a clear, moonless, low humidity night away from all light sources (like the northeast shores of lake chelan), you can see it with the naked eye, but it is definitely mostly brought out due to the long exposure and physical sensor size. The cloudy regions are the galactic core of the milky way which is a higher concentration of stars and gas. The gas and space dust emit light forming a nebula...at least that's how I understand it 🤷
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joker
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PostTue May 30, 2017 11:33 pm 
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Nice job of capturing the milky way plus aurora with a pleasing foreground to boot!

If you haven't been when the water is  open at the  lakes, do go then. It's fun to shoot those glacier-draped middle fork peaks reflecting in the upper lake.
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Backpacker Joe
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PostWed May 31, 2017 4:38 am 
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Yes a fantastic trip and pics G.  What I get most out of this trip is the beta that shows Otter thawed already!  Awesome.   up.gif

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"If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide."

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