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ngie
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ngie
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PostSat Jul 30, 2022 11:17 pm 
Be our guest. Be our guest. The forest put our bushwhacking skills to the test!

(this trip report is a bit sparing on pictures)

I originally planned on doing something a bit more technically heavy yesterday, but not having a great feeling about committing to a long day without an easy out, I suggested an alternative to my hiking buddy: Lumiere Ridge and Lux Peak. Some folks had gotten up there, it was along the PCT, and it was near similar objectives that we'd done "on sight", so I felt reasonably confident that it would be a good day.

My buddy originally misunderstood my intentions and almost went up to Tunnel Creek TH (he thought I wanted to do Sopwith, then Lux, and finally Lumiere), but instead I was like "let's do it from Stevens Pass instead!". Definitely a good call in retrospect, but the road was quite bumpy and there was a pretty decent dip. We parked a little before the turnoff that went down to the bottom of Jupiter Chair because things were getting a bit gnarly with his Subaru and I had had bad go's with my Subaru treating it like a high clearance Rubicon/4Runner with cruddy rocks like what we saw yesterday biggrin.gif.

It was a bit later in the day and it was pretty exposed, so it was already a tad warmer than usual, but not too bad, all things considered. In fact, the road was quite nice to walk on and I enjoyed the clean air and pretty blooming flowers--mostly Beargrass and Columbine, with some spent yellow asters. The only real downside was that our seasonal wilderness greeters -- mosquitoes and biting deer flies -- were out in full force. So, per usual, we blasted ourselves with DEET-based bug spray and continued on. I hate DEET, but this summer has been SO bad that I've found it to be a very necessary evil.

The long dusty road walk added on an extra 800' and a mile or two, but it was definitely the right call because the road quality deteriorated seriously after where we parked. I probably would only drive a true high clearance vehicle up to the trailhead. It was really nice walking instead of getting thrown around like a bobblehead doll and kind of cool to walk up and down some of the ski runs I skidded down on my snowboard. It's so crazy looking at ski resorts without snow..

The walk up the PCT was fantastic cruiser trail, as expected. It was nice that it was cool in the morning and mostly shaded when we were heading up the trail. One of the really cool things was seeing a canine (coyote? fox?) catch some prey and run upstream over by Susan Jane Lake. Very cool!

The snow was fairly minimal and the trail was wet from the standing water in spots, but for the most part it was relatively dry.

Around a corner on the PCT nearest the southeastern ridge of Lumiere Ridge we spotted a game trail/bootpath, which we followed up through the meadows and up streams towards the ridge proper. We were making fantastic time/progress up to the first high point, but at the first major high point the brush got a bit more dense (conifers, huckleberries), and we had to duck in and out of the woods following game trails. We split at the saddle trying to find an easy way and I ended going skiers right (east), which was the short end of the straw I think (it involved more boulder hopping and some minor bushwhacking at the end). If I had stuck to the ridgeline a bit more closely, the traverse would have been a bit easier.

At the saddle we started going up again and ran into a lot more dense brush. At this point we were ducking and diving and bobbing and weaving around crazy thick brush. I tried avoiding going all the way up the ridge since the gendarmes looked like they had bad down climbing, which paid off part of the time, but not all of the time. There were a few spots where we walked the narrow knife edge ridge towards the final col which led up to the final "whale fin"-like ridge. It was a bit steep to negotiate, but with the moss being dry and there being narrow shelves to walk on, it was an straightforward, albeit careful, walkup. The summit was covered with trees, but one could push through the trees up to the summit proper. The view from the top was pretty much 360 of the area. Being able to see everything from Stuart to Dakobed to Koma Kulshan/Sloan to Index area to the Chiwaukums and Jim Hill was definitely an awesome sight!

Working our way back down, I tried sticking to the older trees because the underbrush was not quite as bad, but the dry/slick pine needles made for iffy traversing in trail runners (a preview of what was to come).

We decided to follow an old track down to the PCT following some sparsely forested undergrowth and a drainage, but it was a bit steep so we had to veggie belay/tree hug our way down to the trail.

Once we got down to the PCT we turned right and started heading southwest. Figuring that the path wasn't frequently traveled we kept our eyes peeled, but finally found a nice cut through the trees following the drainage at a corner. It looked fairly well traveled, so it might have been a game trail or fisherman's trail or something. We climbed up some damp/wet mossy rocks following a stream, hit some nice open sections (which we cruised up), and had to climb. I decided to try and follow the ridge line as much as possible (seemingly a wise idea), but it was difficult going with the huckleberries and thick trees. To top it off, there was thick duff pine needle cover on the ground which made travel extremely slick and slide prone. It wasn't fun with trail runners, shorts, and trekking poles. I was frequently hanging off of pine trees, testing huckleberry veggie belays before committing, and pushing my way uphill along 45+ terrain.

I found a little bit of cruiser snow, which hands down made for the easiest travel up the ridge.

We finally converged around the rock field on the east side by a talus field, which led up to the rock ridge with several gendarmes. The first gendarme we ran into seemed like it might be passable, but my buddy didn't feel comfortable with the exposure; it was airy class 3/4 business up heather slopes and I had to push myself through trees.

I got to the top of the gendarme, peeked around, found a potential route for him to follow, shouted it out, then he went down and started traversing. I was having fun playing around on the rock; it was mostly bomber friction slabs, with the occasional crumbly holds or loose boulders, so I felt reasonably safe, but tested before fully committing to eat hold.

It was a bit too far of a drop down to the next col, so I had to drop down about 20' and traverse over. Again, I went too high, but I found a clear path along the east side of the ridge, so I continued up the game trails to some nice clear steppes.

This section would have been nice if it had been clear, but the dang dry pine needles and moss made another appearance, so I had to veggie belay as protection up the slabs until I got off to the left (a less exposed/safer portion of the wall). From that _next_ col, the summit was in sight and all I needed to do was walk up the right (west) side of the ridge and brace myself up more fun dry duff with large conifers.

The summit was a bit underwhelming since it was fairly forested and the view was partially blocked, but I bet it would have been a fun objective in the wintertime.

Now the way down was really rough because it involved my (once again) dear friend, dry pine needle duff. Again, why did I bring trail runners and not bring microspikes?! I fell once about 5' and had to self-arrest with my feet, and it was extremely difficult regaining my footing and traversing along the ridge. I relied heavily on conifers as veggie belays.

We made our way towards the nicer slopes along the northwest ridge spine, were tempted by the meadows, but then ducked back into the woods once we discovered the meadows sucked a lot (the huckleberry bushes were sharp and slick).

A lot more duffy adventures ensued, but the slopes leveled out a bit, which made slipping and sliding a bit more manageable (minus when I clothes lined my taint over a fir tree -- OW). We tried going straight north, but no dice (it was cliffed out), so we had to snake our way down a drainage to the PCT. We finally popped out near the PCT and thanked our lucky stars that we were on a cruiser trail again.

We sat down for a bit, gaining our breath, but unfortunately the mosquitoes and flies started mobbing us, so despite the heat I pressed on as fast as possible.

My water went empty a bit before the cutoff we took up Lux Peak, so I ran on E a bit until we found some water to filter a mile or two away (after the next pass where we went by Lumiere).

I drank a 1L when we filled up, then grabbed another 1L for the road (making it 4.5L for the whole day). It was quite warm and sunny on the way down but we took it slow. Fortunately the sun had fallen low enough that the forested sections were a bit more shady, but the walk down the dusty road was still quite the jont.

It was so nice grabbing a burger and shake at Zeke's afterwards. I decided to try elk for the first time, which was interesting and tasted a lot like super lean ground beef (I highly recommend it over beef). Not going to get too much of it in the future since I'm mostly pescatarian, but it was definitely an interesting experience to say the least!

PS For others who might attempt this, I highly recommend going when snow's present. It was annoying and a bit sketchy having to bushwhack our way up and down the ridges.



KascadeFlat, Sculpin, FiresideChats, contour5
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Sculpin
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PostSun Jul 31, 2022 7:41 am 
ngie wrote:
One of the really cool things was seeing a canine (coyote? fox?) catch some prey and run upstream over by Susan Jane Lake. Very cool!

You were in the best spot in the Cascades for seeing a fox - for some mysterious reason - so that is probably what you saw.

--------------
Between every two pines is a doorway to the new world. - John Muir

ngie
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ngie
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ngie
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PostSun Jul 31, 2022 8:04 pm 
Neat! I'll have to go back and see whether or not we can spot the fox again sometime; my hiking buddy and I have Nasikelt, et al to visit still.

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