We started at about 11:30 AM on Friday, May 10 but spent a good half hour trying to find the best place to cross the river. Last year there was a log near the drainpipe next to the parking lot that you could easily cross to get to the trail, but that log has since been washed out. On Friday morning the river was flowing gently enough that we decided to just take off our shoes and ford across a calm section. On the way back, however, the river was much deeper and flowing much more powerfully, and we were unable to cross in the same place. The best place we found to cross was further back down the road. There’s a small cairn on the side of the road marking where to cut over to the road to a log jam with a few large, criss-crossing logs. From there we crossed two or three more large logs over other smaller branches of the river to get to the trailhead.
The forested part of the trail is steep but easy to follow and in good shape. We moved very slowly through the boulder field. There was a thin layer of snow starting around 4500 feet, which meant we had to be careful where we stepped to keep from post-holing and rolling an ankle.
Once we got above treeline, the snow was deep and soft, and we followed the boot path to Hammered Ridge. We descended down a gully that seemed like the most obvious way down to other side of the ridge, but were met with a moat near the bottom. It was about three feet across and maybe 10 feet deep, but it will probably continue to widen as the snow melts. We threw our backpacks across the gap and then jumped down to meet them. On the return journey we found a spot a little further down the ridge where the snow met the rock and we were able to climb back up. Not sure how much longer that will be possible.
The final push to camp was a slog because the snow was so soft. We were jealous of the skiers and snowshoers. We did not come across any crevasses along our route. We camped at about 7500’ in the shadow of Eggplant. It took us about 8 hours to get to that point, but other groups moved faster. We took our time the next morning and summited around 8 AM. There was a defined bootpath to the top of of the knife edge but we chose to stop just shy of the tippy top where it was more exposed and a small cornice had formed. The views were unforgettable!
I did a portion of the hike in May last year and there was a larger log near the drain pipe that provided solid, almost direct access to the trailhead. I took two pictures (facing either direction) of this area to show it had been washed out. There is still a log here partially under water but it wasn't the one I used last year.
Either way, the log we found on our way back that's further down the road appears to be the best way. It was well above the water.
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