Forum Index > Trip Reports > Bedal Peak Summit Bivy - May 4-5 2019
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awilsondc
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PostFri May 10, 2019 10:11 pm 
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A week prior to this trip I made an attempt on Bedal Peak.  I've been wanting to see the north face of Sloan for some time and figured I'd do my usual sunrise summit.  I usually have a hard time deciding on which trip to do these days, but I had a very strong feeling about Bedal.  It just felt right... I needed to go.  I had an equally strong feeling about finding my way through the flagged trail in the dark, but more in the dark, gloomy, and foreboding sense.  I left my house after my family went to bed and arrived at the trailhead at 2am and started hiking.  No sleep.  The trail wasn't actually that hard to follow, plenty of flagging and easy enough to spot in the dark.  Things went great for about 30-45 minutes until I hit flag and couldn't find where the trail went.  It looked like it went one way so I'd investigate, only to backtrack when the trail petered out.  Maybe it goes that way?  I'd try again, only to backtrack once more when I couldn't find the trail.  I was getting tired.  The fog from my breath reflected in my headlamp distracting my gaze.  I'd look at my phone and my GPS showed I was down hill from the route.  My eyes would have to re-adjust to looking out into the dark forest for any sign of flagging.  I searched for the route for an hour, becoming more and more delirious from sleep deprivation.  At this point any hope of reaching the summit for sunrise was gone.  I really didn't feel like getting lost in the forest in the middle of the night so I bailed.  It was the right thing do to.  I figured I'd go back eventually.

Fast forward a week and I was looking for a trip to do.  Saturday night was supposed to be new moon and I wanted to find a cool place to go for some Milky Way photography.  I opened up my app to see where the Milky Way would be and my location was still on Bedal Peak.  What's that you say?  The Milky Way galactic core is supposed to pass right behind Sloan Peak from the summit of Bedal?!  Destination selected!  I asked my long time friend Trevin if he'd care to join on a summit bivy trip up Bedal and he was in!  We met up in Olympia and headed off to the trailhead.  The trip was almost derailed before it even began though.  On the road between Arlington and Darrington the car in front of me slammed on its brakes, waiting for traffic to pass before making a left turn.  I had to slam on my brakes to stop in time which I did.  The truck behind me towing a trailer wasn't having as much luck and I could see the trailer fish tailing as the driver attempted to stop in time.  Without hesitation I pulled over to the side of the road.  By the time the truck came to a stop the nose of the truck was at my driver side window.  Rear end collision avoided, we continued to the trailhead without incident.  Road 4096 is a little rough and I had to engage x-mode in my Outback (I love that feature).  By 2:47pm we were hiking.

The trail was a lot easier to follow in daylight.  Obviously.   shakehead.gif When we got to the traverse section I found out where I made my mistake a week prior.  The trail split, one going up hill and one going down hill.  The downhill trail clearly marked by a blue ribbon around a tree (and more flagging down that path later on) where the up hill trail was marked by a pink flag.  The trail goes up here folks.  We continued on, over several blow downs and a couple streams but the trail was never really that hard to follow.  Trevin and his eagle eyes kept us on track when I had any trouble spotting the next flag.  We reached snow shortly after 4000 ft.  The first boulder field was a half snow half melted out and we got a bit off route, but looking at GPS were able to bushwack back to the trail.  Snow was continuous shortly thereafter and soon we put on snowshoes.  The snow was wet.  Not super sloppy mushy wet, but glommy.  The snow would either glom on to the bottom of your snowshoes or pile up on top, but each step generally entailed an extra 1-5 pounds of snow on each snowshoe most of the time.  Good for training.   lol.gif

Trillium
Trillium
Climbing up
Climbing up
Trail
Trail
First views
First views
Working up the first gully
Working up the first gully
Hidden ramp
Hidden ramp

As we neared the key ramp in the first gully I made a slight decision making error.  I could tell the route was steep, but the run out was good.  I thought about getting my axe out but the snow was so soft it seemed pointless.  I continued on in snowshoes.  Edging side hill in steep terrain with snowshoes in sloppy snow is not easy.  Snow glommed onto the bottom of my snowshoe.  I started to slip and down I went.  Facing uphill with both snowshoes acting like skis I slid down the slope 10-15 feet before I was able to stop by digging in my knees and dragging my poles.  I was probably ~3 feet from a moat (climbers left, skiers right) with plenty of safe run out below but I felt like an idiot and Trevin said it got his heart pumping.  We took our snowshoes off and kicked steps / post holed up through the key ramp to reach the slopes on the other side. 

After putting on snowshoes we continued up, but weather was starting to move in.  It wasn't long and we were in a white out with 50 ft visibility.  We stayed close together and continued the slog up to the summit, adding layers to stay warm.  There were snowshoe tracks a couple days old that aided in navigation along with GPS track checks to keep us on route.  We passed under the summit and gained the east ridge.  Soon after we found ourselves on the summit.  We still had 45 minutes or so of daylight, plenty of time to set up out bivies.  The summit was mostly snowed in, so we each dug out a little flat spot to bivy.  The clouds tried to clear a couple times, and we could tell that if we were 500 feet higher sunset would have been awesome, but we got no views and hit the sack shortly after sunset.  My vision, my main goal for this entire trip was to get Milky Way views of Sloan Peak.  The forecast was honestly all over the place with some sites (skippy sky) calling for 100% high cloud cover, but the one I've come to trust most in terms of cloud cover (Clear Outside) projected clearing skies around 11pm.  I set an alarm and went to sleep.

Sloggin'
Sloggin'
Weather moving in
Weather moving in
Visibility diminishing
Visibility diminishing
Arriving at the summit
Arriving at the summit
Setting up camp
Setting up camp
Sunset woulda been awesome
Sunset woulda been awesome

It.  Was.  Cold.  The forecast said overnight low of 38.  Yeah, no.  I had a 20 degree bag and Trevin a 15 degree bag, but we were both barely warm enough.  It easily could have been down into the teens, hard to say.  My alarm sounded in middle of the night.  I peered out of my bivy to... clear skies!!!  YES!!!  I crawled out of my sleeping bag and marveled at the stars as I got my camera ready.  I spent the next 60-90 minutes shooting Milky Way shots and freezing my *** off.  I loved every second of it.

Milky way over Sloan
Milky way over Sloan
Milky Way panorama
Milky Way panorama

I had to coax Trevin to leave the comforts of his bivy to pose for a shot.  I took a few shots of myself too using the timer on my camera, but his shot turned out the best.  It was the gem of the trip and one of my favorite photos I've ever taken.  It was so cool to have my vision turn out the way it did.  I'm incredibly grateful.  I don't think there are very many Milky Way shots of the north face of Sloan from Bedal Peak in existence either, so that's pretty cool too.

My vision
My vision

Dawn broke and this time it was Trevin that had to coax me out of my bivy.  "uhhhh, dude.  It's pretty rad out here, you might want to get up"  or something to that effect.  It was.  Pretty rad.  I spent another hour taking sunrise photos and having some breakfast.  Soon we packed up and were heading down by 7am on the dot.

Rise and shine!
Rise and shine!
My accomodations
My accomodations
Dawn over Glacier
Dawn over Glacier
Dawn panorama
Dawn panorama
Morning sky over Sloan
Morning sky over Sloan
Sunrise
Sunrise
Monte Cristo group
Monte Cristo group
Summit
Summit
Those textures!!!
Those textures!!!
Breakfast with a view
Breakfast with a view
Appropriate name
Appropriate name
Packing up
Packing up

The snow was very icy and we were glad to have crampons and axes.  Our steps from the previous day were completely frozen and we followed those for awhile before discovering that the virgin snow was a delightful degree of frozen that made for great plunge stepping without post holing.  We plunge stepped all the way back to the key ramp leading back to the first gully.  Once below that, but snow was a lot softer and was post hole central but we stayed in crampons until the snow ran out.  We were surprised to encounter a solo hiker and his dog, and later a couple of skiers making their way up.  They were just as surprised to see us.

Last view of Sloan
Last view of Sloan
Downward
Downward
Descending from the summit
Descending from the summit
Traversing
Traversing
Sunburst - Tree - Glacier
Sunburst - Tree - Glacier
More from the descending traverse
More from the descending traverse

The way back was pretty uneventful.  We stopped at the Burger Barn in Darrington on the way back to cap off a killer weekend.  I normally don't like to turn day trips into overnighters, but this one was worth.
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neek
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PostFri May 10, 2019 10:43 pm 
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Cool story and amazing night shots.  I still need to get out that way sometime...during the day.
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MtnManic
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PostFri May 10, 2019 10:56 pm 
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Great photos!

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Backpacking: limited to one pack at a time.  Cameras: limited to as many as I can carry.
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Jeff
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PostSat May 11, 2019 5:49 am 
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Pugh is a pretty sweet summit camp too.
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RichP
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PostSat May 11, 2019 6:25 am 
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Amazing Milky Way pics. With Sloan it looks even better.

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Without obsession, life is nothing. John Waters
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RandyHiker
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PostSat May 11, 2019 8:34 am 
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Sweet!
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Fletcher
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PostSat May 11, 2019 8:37 am 
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Very cool! I really enjoyed Bedal for that view of Sloan when I did it some years back.
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Trevzyn
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PostSat May 11, 2019 8:41 am 
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Awesome trip report and pictures as always buddy! And awesome trip! Thanks
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olderthanIusedtobe
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PostSat May 11, 2019 10:10 am 
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up.gif  Wow, excellent pictures!  While Sloan is the star, that's a cool perspective of Pugh and White Chuck from there.  Thanks for sharing.
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Nancyann
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PostSat May 11, 2019 1:26 pm 
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Wow, your hard work and dedication really paid off, Aaron. Wonderful pictures!
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JasonK806
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PostSat May 11, 2019 1:38 pm 
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Very cool! Milky way pictures look impressive! Keep it up.  up.gif
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Anne Elk
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PostSat May 11, 2019 1:44 pm 
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Super night photos.  You said, "Milky Way galactic core is supposed to pass right behind Sloan Peak" ... how do you track that (website)?

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fourteen410
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PostSat May 11, 2019 3:13 pm 
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Amazing shots!

awilsondc wrote:
I had to engage x-mode in my Outback (I love that feature)

I also have that feature and have never noticed a difference when engaging it. Always thought it was just a gimmick, but it sounds like it might be useful in some situations?
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Snidely Whiplash
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PostSat May 11, 2019 3:31 pm 
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These are just some of the most spectacular photos I've ever seen. Those Milky Way photos are literally and figuratively out of this world.
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awilsondc
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PostSat May 11, 2019 6:17 pm 
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Thank you for the kind words everyone, I appreciate it! Snidley, good hearing from you again. Thanks for stopping by!  wink.gif

For tracking the path of the Milky Way I use PhotoPills which is a paid app.  The Milky Way tracker isn't totally intuitive, but there a good 30 minute tutorial they put out which explains everything.

X-mode on newer Subaru's is awesome!  My understanding is that it disengages the axels so each wheel has it's own suspension. You need to be on a truly rugged road and going slow to use it.  If you go above a certain speed, around 18 mph it turns off and goes on stand by and if you drive above 20 for too long it turns off completely.  When it's on and you're going down hill you can literally coast and the car will gently roll down any gnarly terrain you area on. Again it has to be a very rugged road to truly use it. Road 4096 here was a good example as are parts of the road to Thornton Lakes and the final bit to the Phelps creek trailhead.
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Bedal Peak Summit Bivy - May 4-5 2019
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