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neek
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PostThu Jul 23, 2020 10:13 am 
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The road is long (although probably doable with low clearance) and the hike short, but Mount Watson is a fun little climb, and the surrounding lakes are pretty.  I also wanted to see the comet again, so planned to hang out at the Anderson Butte Lookout Site afterwards.

At 1.5 mi, when the trail starts descending to Watson Lakes, I took the side trail to Anderson Lakes.  This begins with a steep ridge, but soon flattens out.  I went right around the lake, although left might be more efficient.  Be aware of snow bridges over treacherous creeks.  From the outlet of the upper lake I headed more or less east up steep heather and snow, rounding the NW ridge at 5700'.  I stayed roughly level until the short climb up to the saddle between the E and W peaks.  However, I was about 15 minutes from being taken out by a big chunk of snow that broke off the slabs above, so slightly lower might be safer.  From the saddle it was a ridge walk to the summit, with a solid class 4 move I'm not sure can be avoided (update: it can; see comments below).  The shorter east summit was easier, nothing beyond steep class 2 if you're lucky, and is recommended for the better view of Bacon and other peaks to the east.  The waterlogged and therefore unsignable register on the east peak showed the last party in August 2018.  I didn't find a register on the west peak.

On the return I saw the upper Watson Lake directly to the north and thought hmm, that doesn't look too bad.  Dropping 800 ft in about 15 minutes thanks to snow, I met up with the trail that leads the rest of the way down to the east side of the lake.  Lots of nice looking camp sites lined the lake's north shore, and the mosquitoes weren't as bad as feared.

Next I followed the trail up to the Anderson Butte Lookout Site and waited for sunset, which, despite some clouds near the horizon, wasn't very colorful.  I thought about trying to find a way up Anderson Butte, but didn't want to come down it in the dark.  I was thinking the comet might appear directly above Baker, but it was a little to the N.  Still, a nice view as it came in and out of the clouds.  Noticing Shuksan was exactly to the north, I shot some star trails in that direction, which turned out blotchy due to the clouds.

On the drive back, I had to stop the car several times and shoo giant toads off the road.  All sorts of interesting stuff comes out at night!

Tree vs bridge
Tree vs bridge
Packrafter
Packrafter
Lower Watson Lake
Lower Watson Lake
I headed up the center-left snow finger
I headed up the center-left snow finger
Anderson Lakes
Anderson Lakes
Rounding the corner. Glacier appears fairly safe right now
Rounding the corner. Glacier appears fairly safe right now
Fresh slide
Fresh slide
Summit
Summit
Looking E down the summit ridge
Looking E down the summit ridge
Summit
Summit
Watson's west peak - looks potentially fun
Watson's west peak - looks potentially fun
The tricky spot
The tricky spot
Heading up the east peak
Heading up the east peak
View to the W from the east peak
View to the W from the east peak
View to the E from the east peak
View to the E from the east peak
View to the NE from the east peak
View to the NE from the east peak
Looking back at route
Looking back at route
Upper Watson Lake
Upper Watson Lake
Looking up at Mount Watson from upper Watson Lake
Looking up at Mount Watson from upper Watson Lake
Upper Watson outlet
Upper Watson outlet
Bacon
Bacon
Triumph (right); Jack in the distance
Triumph (right); Jack in the distance
Blum
Blum
Pickets
Pickets
Shuksan
Shuksan
Google "Night Sight" sunset
Google "Night Sight" sunset
Sunset zoom
Sunset zoom
The comet appears
The comet appears
Star trails over Shuksan
Star trails over Shuksan
Milky Way
Milky Way
I've noticed amphibians don't run away from you at night. Blinded by the light perhaps?
I've noticed amphibians don't run away from you at night. Blinded by the light perhaps?
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geyer
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PostThu Jul 23, 2020 10:53 am 
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neek wrote:
Star trails over Shuksan
Star trails over Shuksan

Really like this one.
Was thinking of heading here soon for a quick trip. Thanks for the update
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ozzy
The hard way



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PostThu Jul 23, 2020 10:54 am 
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Amazing pics neek!! eek.gif The Watsons have been on my radar, thanks for the beta! Sweet trip, cheers!

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Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer. -Arnold
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nickmtn
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PostThu Jul 23, 2020 11:13 am 
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Nice moody sunset shots, especially the one of Shuksan. Watson is great little climb!

The class 4 can be avoided by going up that little snowfield to lower saddle left of the summit. From the saddle it is class 2 with a few moves of exposed class 3 at the very top.

neek wrote:
Summit
Summit
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slabbyd
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PostThu Jul 23, 2020 1:34 pm 
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The north buttress of the west peak is "The Tooth" of the North Cascades.   Fun low-5th up weaknesses on it's right side or a couple pitches of clean,excellent 5.6 directly up the crest.
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kitya
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PostThu Jul 23, 2020 1:39 pm 
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You stole my idea smile.gif I also wanted to explore Watson area soon, but has not done yet. Nice to see a report from there.

neek wrote:
On the drive back, I had to stop the car several times and shoo giant toads off the road.  All sorts of interesting stuff comes out at night!

Thank you for saving them. Are they the bull frogs?
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Mike Collins
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PostThu Jul 23, 2020 2:22 pm 
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kitya wrote:
Are they the bull frogs?

It is the Western toad, Anaxyrus boreas. They do get quite large. I once encountered a toad almost as large as a tea saucer on the top of Mt Defiance. The female in this species is larger than the male.
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



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PostThu Jul 23, 2020 11:53 pm 
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I thought the east peak was a steeper 3rd class scramble and more fun than the west peak. I don't remember anything hard on the west peak.

This was the state of the east peak register in August, 2016
East Watson register
East Watson register
East Watson register
East Watson register
East Watson register
East Watson register

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Mid Fork Rocks flickr
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Brushbuffalo
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PostFri Jul 24, 2020 3:01 pm 
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Watson is so fun.
neek wrote:

I had to look twice at this picture. At first I thought it was a pile of bear poo because the dark nebulous thing dominates, then I saw the camo'd toad!

You said you had to dodge giant toads on your drive back.  This seems to be the summer of extremes...toads on roads,  crowds on Goode's summit,  caterpillar plague in Grizzly Creek, mosquitoes everywhere,  and unfortunately groups of newbies tying up the permit process.

Miscellaneous trivia: Near Watson Lakes one of the  reports with high confidence of a grizzly bear was made about 15 or 20 years ago based on fresh tracks in snow. ( guessing on the time...fuzzy memory but certain of the report, which was substantiated by a wildlife biologist).

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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