Even though they are supposed to be a classic winter destination, somehow I have never been to Union peak and Jove peak, so today was the day to check them out. I was a bit worried that with low snow year there will not be enough snow yet, but it turned out to be pretty good snowshoe anyway.
It was snowing most of the day and driving through Stevens pass in the morning was a little bit challenging, since roadway was not cleared yet. I parked in a bit of a deep snow near to Smithbrook road pullout and while I was lazily getting out of the car a very nice WSDOT snowplow came by, plowed the pullout behind me quickly and asked me to move back so that he can finish plowing the road. Wow! Never had personal plowing service before.
Smithbrook road was snowy and tedious. Even though I was the first car in the morning, soon after me a few trucks with snowmobiles came and soon snowmobilers started overtaking us on the road. They are so loud and make it really hard to breathe ☹ Somehow all the exhaust seems to get trapped around the road.
Finally starting on Smithbrook trail it became instantly evident how little snow there is. At 4000ft the trail between the trees is not only visible, but occasionally bare or just ice covered.
Lots of fun fresh frozen mushrooms. Yummy.
The slope to Union peak is very steep in places and between the trees the snow conditions are kind of annoying – just a few inches of fresh powder on top of very solid ice. However higher up, once it opens a bit more, snow becomes just perfect – a paradise of deep fresh powder.
Not good weather for the views, but I think I got to see snowy lake Janus and a bit of nearby peaks. Out of two summits, Union peak is just a forested hill, but Jove offers more of the real mountain feel with large open snowy slopes on one side.
It got really cold and we hurried back.
P.S. Around 5pm (already dark) right near the start of the Smithbrook road we met two large older trucks trying to drive over the snow up Smithbrook road. It looked like a really weird idea to me and I hope people in these trucks know what they are doing and why.
Glad to find out who broke trail for us today, thank you! Was going to write up a report, but figured I would just add to this post. Anyways, Neil & myself started up Smithbrook Road at 8:00 today hoping for good conditions. The road is easily bootable at this point in time. Saw several sleds enjoying their upcoming season.
Reached the trailhead in 1 hour figuring we would need to break trail going forward, but was happily surprised to find tracks leading from the big road switchback. We assumed they headed for the popular Lake Valhalla, but again found some luck as they split from the main trail at 4,500' and seemed to head for Union. Decided we would follow the tracks until they lead us astray (they didn't).
Neil heading up
Henry Jackson Wilderness
Made good time to the ridge and gained the last few hundred feet up Union. Not much for views, but at least the wind wasn't howling. Glad to see the tracks headed for Jove so we happily followed them. Dropping 400' off Union is a bummer, but the ridge walk is pleasant otherwise. Got to Jove 4 hours after leaving the car.
Slogging up Jove
Jove summit views
The weather cleared a bit on the way out, but we had a good time. Thanks again for breaking trail, we owe you a beer or 2. Good trench on route now if anyone wants to take advantage before the next snowfall.
Looking back at Union
Best view of the day
Dashing through the snow
10.5 miles, 7.25 hours. Another great day in the mountains!!!
-------------- When asked "Why do you climb"? Simply respond "Why don't you"?
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