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InfinitySpirals
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PostThu Sep 10, 2020 4:23 pm 
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Hi. I've been here a long time but I've decided to start posting.

I completed the ALW high route, including a summit of Iron Cap, in one night 8/29 - 8/30, camping at Tank Lakes.

After reading all of the threads here about the Iron Cap traverse, I didn't know what to expect. Imagery and topo made it look simple, but many first hand accounts from seemingly experienced folks made it seem difficult. I went for the ledge traverse at 5600ft. My assessment was that it was difficult the first time, due to lack of line of sight around the "crux" ledge of Iron Cap at any point prior to passing through the ledge. This made it difficult to know exactly where to tread, but I think on a return trip the terrain would be quite benign.

My previous longer trips this year had all been in the Pasayten, giving me limited exposure to The Great COVID Crowding of 2020 thus far. This was different. There were parties of people everywhere, even on the off trail sections of this route. If reading NWHikers over the years has taught me one thing, it would be that WA Hikers and Climbers FB group is solely to blame for this lack of solitutude. It's always their fault, right?

Overall, the trip was smooth. I enjoyed looking down on the upper Middle Fork valley and fondly recalling a trip to tag Hinman via Dingford in 2012, during which I ran out of food and had to hike out from La Bohn lakes on only one cup of black tea.

That East Fork Foss trail sure has some lovely old growth.

Here are a few pictures from the trip.

The correct ledge is just downslope from here.

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drewcoll
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PostThu Sep 10, 2020 4:49 pm 
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Thanks for posting! smile.gif Looks nice.
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Bosterson
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PostThu Sep 10, 2020 5:43 pm 
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Nice trip. That view across the valley to the south from the Tank Lakes is pretty hard to beat.  smile.gif

InfinitySpirals wrote:
After reading all of the threads here about the Iron Cap traverse, I didn't know what to expect. Imagery and topo made it look simple, but many first hand accounts from seemingly experienced folks made it seem difficult. I went for the ledge traverse at 5600ft. My assessment was that it was difficult the first time, due to lack of line of sight around the "crux" ledge of Iron Cap at any point prior to passing through the ledge.

I've also read various confusion in the past few years about how to get off Iron Cap. I did the AL HR in 2013 with no beta (I didn't research and hadn't previously read about it being a "high route," I just thought carrying over Iron Cap made sense on the map to connect the Foss to Necklace Valley) and aside from initially descending the E ridge of Iron Cap down to that impassable notch and having to backtrack to the summit, we didn't have any trouble finding our way down off the north side. It's been so long I don't totally recollect, but I think we just went down the N ridge until we found a heathery ramp that maybe had bits of user trail (?) heading down around to the talus field for the traverse over to the Tank Lakes. I don't recall it being any trickier than the rest of the routefinding, so I'm slightly mystified by all the confusion surrounding it...

Couple pics from descending Iron Cap back then - is this where you ended up?


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Follow the river until it turns to ice. Follow the ice until it turns to rock. Follow the rock until it turns to sky. Then we will be there.
--Woodrow Wilson Sayre
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KascadeFlat
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PostThu Sep 10, 2020 5:50 pm 
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Beautiful area and excellent choice for your first post. smile.gif Thank you for sharing!

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For a good time call: 1-800-SLD-ALDR.
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InfinitySpirals
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PostThu Sep 10, 2020 7:32 pm 
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Bosterson - that looks close but I was in an area of denser short/scrubby trees growing on essentially a boulder field. Descending the north ridge from the summit, the booth path/path of least resistance leads you right into this area, which is where you intersect the traverse and turning right or left at this point will take you to either tank or chetwood.
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Dustin R
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Joined: 30 Aug 2017
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PostSat Sep 12, 2020 4:59 pm 
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InfinitySpirals wrote:
Imagery and topo made it look simple, but many first hand accounts from seemingly experienced folks made it seem difficult. I went for the ledge traverse at 5600ft. My assessment was that it was difficult the first time, due to lack of line of sight around the "crux" ledge of Iron Cap at any point prior to passing through the ledge. This made it difficult to know exactly where to tread, but I think on a return trip the terrain would be quite benign.

Looks like a a great trip! The section directly across the valley from the Tanks once you drop off the steep ledges traversing Iron cap is so cool. I 100% agree with the above quote, the next time will be so much smoother!
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



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PostMon Sep 14, 2020 11:55 am 
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Welcome and thanks for the TR. This area never gets old. It's also hard enough to get to that it's unlikely to be over crowded. Heck, I've never been there because of the time and effort involved.

InfinitySpirals wrote:

This is a really outstanding photo.

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Mid Fork Rocks flickr
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Brushbuffalo
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Location: there earlier, here now, somewhere later... Bellingham in between
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PostTue Sep 15, 2020 7:02 am 
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Beautiful pictures!  Fortunate you did your trip before smoke-ageddon.

InfinitySpirals wrote:
I've decided to start posting.

I'm glad you did. Please keep it up, including a Pasayten trip or two.

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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InfinitySpirals
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PostWed Sep 16, 2020 9:28 am 
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Thanks guys! I'll be writing reports for some past trips on upcoming rainy days, methinks smile.gif
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