Joined: 15 Jul 2016
Posts: 64 | TRs | Pics
Location: Olympia, WA
The first month of 2024 was bland and monotonous for me. I needed to spice things up a bit and go freeze my butt off on top of a mountain. With the snow levels unusually low for this time of year I thought it wouldn't be too much trouble to haul a heavy overnight pack up Ellinor from the upper trailhead. There was a TR on WTA from the Friday before that confirmed there was just a bit of snow before the upper parking lot.
Steady snow started just before the summer/winter junction. The lower half of the gully is nasty with snow covered rocks and holes waiting to swallow up a leg if you veered off from the already placed steps from the parties before. It started to lightly snow with a thick fog all around me. It felt eerie being the only one on the mountain after the last pair of hikers passed by me lower down. Getting closer to the upper gully I could see a blueish hue which meant clearer skies were just above.
Where the upper and lower trails meet
Crazy, where's the snow?
Summer/Winter route junction
Looking spooky in the fog
Class 3 rock step with ice cold water running through it
The way forward
With camp setup I took in the cold cloudy views and settled for a 5pm dinner of spanish rice, tuna, and avocado, my go to for overnights. Read some Jack London short stories my sister gifted me, To Build a Fire, All Gold Canyon, and The Love of Life. It was a long cold night of stirring about in my sleeping bag and checking my phone to see how many hours were left until the sun came up. But when that sun rose, it made putting up with the cold and toil and work to get ready all worth it.
Camp setup and clearing sky's
Rainier, sunset, and city lights
Cooking inside the tent but well vented
The hike down went okay with a little glissading on the upper part of the gully, but coming down the lower part was kind of horrendous with a heavy pack in crampons stepping on snow covered rock. Felt lucky to not twist an ankle or punch through a massive hole.
Can see Rainier, Adams, And St. Helens through the trees
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