Forum Index > Trip Reports > Sourdough-ish Ridge - NCNP - 12/23-24/19
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geyer
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PostMon Dec 30, 2019 9:29 pm 
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Date: December 23-24, 2019
Distance:  12ish miles
Accum. Elevation Gain: 5000ish ft
Total Humans Seen: 0, but I had a strange dream that Lebron James caught up to me in Nordic skis and got buried in an avalanche...

I had a light week coming up at work and was desperately itching for an adventure. I saw the weather window coming up, so I decided to take Monday and Tuesday off. My efforts to recruit a partner were thwarted by all the people going home for Christmas or wanting to spend time with family or actually working (yeah right) or not wanting to freeze their butt off.... basically if you had time off at this time of year, you weren't trying to do an overnight trip and I understand that. (BUT YOU'RE ALL LAME!)

Another caveat was that the North Cascades had just been absolutely rocked with the precipitation that caused flooding in the Seattle area - reports were saying that Baker ski resort got over 3ft while all the other ski resorts mostly got rain or very wet snow. NWAC's forecast was still up at considerable, so I settled on the mellow winter route of Sourdough Ridge in the North Cascades National Park.

A casual 9:30 start had me going up the trail with a few boot tracks ahead of me. The boot tracks stopped quickly and I put on my touring skis. After a while, I noticed that another creature was breaking trail for me and I quickly caught up to this inquisitive young fella.

Young buck in his winter coat
Young buck in his winter coat

Between 1500-3000' there was mostly a punchy but thin rain crust on the trail that made for smooth skinning, but eventually, the snow started to build up and trail breaking became tedious. The snow was wet and heavy and even in skis, I was sinking to my knees. Going up was harder work than I expected and my overnight pack wasn't helping me go any faster. When I got to ~4400', I broke away from the trail and went up the ridge west of Sourdough Creek. Trail breaking got even slower - I really could have used a partner to alternate with - and I eventually resigned to the fact that I wasn't going to make it above treeline on the ridge, so I broke camp at about 5320' and warmed up in my cozy sleeping bag, made dinner and tea, and went to bed.

Colonial through the trees
Colonial through the trees
Clouds over diablo
Clouds over diablo

I woke up at 5am to a text (yay 4G on ridges?) saying "GO GO GO I WANT SUNRISE PICS!!"  lol.gif I guess if I can't get my friends to come out with me, the next best thing is motivation in the form of a text message.

I skipped breakfast (was out of fuel anyway) and jetted up the ridge to about 5600' where I had a decision to make - either wallow up a small knife ridge or hang around this area and find good photography viewpoints. I chose the latter, not that it really mattered since my hands were too cold to think about trying anything creative.

Snowfield group
Snowfield group
Deep ski tracks
Deep ski tracks
Stopped here to get back for Christmas Eve & take pictures
Stopped here to get back for Christmas Eve & take pictures
Southern Pickets
Southern Pickets
McMillan +
McMillan +
Southern Pickets
Southern Pickets
Davis
Davis
First light hitting Fury
First light hitting Fury
Davis
Davis
Fury  > Elephant Butte > Luna
Fury  > Elephant Butte > Luna
Davis
Davis
shadows
shadows
I liked the yellow glow in the trees
I liked the yellow glow in the trees
Oh Christmas Tree
Oh Christmas Tree
Low Clouds
Low Clouds
walking in a winter wonderland
walking in a winter wonderland

I returned to my tent, packed up and headed down. The first bit was mostly downhill skinning, since it was too low-angle and deep for me to ski. Once I hit the crust, I transitioned to skiing, where I survival skied all the way down to where the snow became inconsistent. It burned so good. I may or may not be a better survival skiier than powder skiier... such is life in the northwest
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MtnManic
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PostMon Dec 30, 2019 9:34 pm 
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Those are some mighty nice 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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Gwen
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PostMon Dec 30, 2019 10:06 pm 
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Davis for the cover of next year's calendar! I live tge contrast in the b/w version, but the soft color of such a fine winter sunrise makes me like that version best of all. What a great gift, to have that special time in the mtns.

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Tomorrow's not promised to anyone, so be bold, scare yourself, attempt something with no guarantee of success. You'll be amazed at what you can achieve. -Olive McGloin
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Brushwork
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PostMon Dec 30, 2019 10:14 pm 
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Those are some beautiful pictures!   Nice results for your endeavor!

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When I grow up I wanna play.
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RichP
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here and there
PostMon Dec 30, 2019 10:37 pm 
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Lovely! Lucky you.  up.gif
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Matt
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PostMon Dec 30, 2019 10:38 pm 
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Beautiful trip.  The pink light hitting the clouds below Davis is especially fine.  That's the kind of effect that makes the partly cloudy days better than totally clear ones, as long as one can get some clear light shining through.

But what was the actual date of your trip?  At the top of the report, you have October 5-9.

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ďAs beacons mountains burned at evening.Ē J.R.R. Tolkien
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geyer
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PostTue Dec 31, 2019 8:43 am 
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Matt wrote:
But what was the actual date of your trip?† At the top of the report, you have October 5-9.

Good catch. I always copy and paste the formatting from old trip reports, so I forgot to change that to match the title. Dec. 23-24 were the dates
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kitya
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PostTue Dec 31, 2019 10:10 am 
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geyer wrote:
A casual 9:30 start had me going up the trail with a few boot tracks ahead of me. The boot tracks stopped quickly and I put on my touring skis. After a while, I noticed that another creature was breaking trail for me and I quickly caught up to this inquisitive young fella.

Young buck in his winter coat
Young buck in his winter coat

Wow! I had no idea deer change their winter coats color, the other deer I see in winter around here are not such color. Are you sure it is winter color and no piebald?
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Brushwork
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PostTue Dec 31, 2019 4:15 pm 
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I donít know, but it doesnít look like a deer to me.   Looks more like a reindeer!, yea, like that could be right...?

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When I grow up I wanna play.
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geyer
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PostTue Dec 31, 2019 5:23 pm 
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kitya wrote:
Wow! I had no idea deer change their winter coats color, the other deer I see in winter around here are not such color. Are you sure it is winter color and no piebald?

I didn't think so either, but I didn't do any research into it... From what I've read, deer actually get darker in winter, so it looks like maybe it's an albino which would be a rare sight! Looks kind of like this deer! But the color definitely helps it stay camouflaged in winter
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fourteen410
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PostTue Dec 31, 2019 10:55 pm 
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Drool  eek.gif
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gb
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PostWed Jan 01, 2020 4:58 pm 
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My God, that is a Mountain Caribou! Super rare. Contact David Moskowitz https://davidmoskowitz.net/contact

He's written a Braided River book about that species in BC.
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Brushwork
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PostWed Jan 01, 2020 5:12 pm 
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Thatís what I think too.!

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geyer
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PostWed Jan 01, 2020 7:10 pm 
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Wow if you're right, that would be an oddly southern and western sighting. This map shows their populations to be in the selkirks! Some sources even say there shouldn't be any caribou left in the lower 48. Map
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lanzscape
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PostWed Jan 01, 2020 7:13 pm 
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Beautiful images, Mr. Geyer.  up.gif  up.gif
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Sourdough-ish Ridge - NCNP - 12/23-24/19
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