Earl Peak is an old favorite. I especially enjoy it
in the spring when there is still snow on the route. What I had not done
was to hike on up after the first snow of the season. I had not been on
a Mountaineer trip since spring and so I signed up. Trips led by Richard
and Lynn have always been fun. We met in Issaquah at 6:15 and were at the
trailhead by 8:15. Nothing like an early start when the days are getting
short. There were a few inches of snow on Beverly Creek Road and just a
little in the parking lot. I have hiked up Earl from Standup Creek and from
Bean Creek Basin. One time we could not get across Bean Creek due to high
water and icy rocks and we were forced to ascend the ridge. We found that
we could run it all the way to the summit. Richard's plan for this trip
was similar. We hiked up the trail for a few minutes and then headed straight
up. The first 1000 feet went very quickly. There was not much underbrush
to impede our progress. A bigger worry was knocking rocks loose which would
then rain down on other members or our group. Looking down towards Beverly
Creek I was surprised by the number of larch trees and the fact they were
peaking in early November.
The off trail ridge route we were on reaches the summit of Earl in just
under 3 miles. It goes from 3600' to 7036' gaining over 3400'. There are
some ups and downs along the ridge adding a little more elevation gain. We
managed to stay near the ridge top much of the way. Craig Beavon posted a
report from the day before of the same route and we found his footprints much
of the way. The sky was mostly filled with high clouds. That kept the sun
mostly away but did not do much to harm our view. As we rose the summits of
the Teanaway area came out. They are all covered with fresh snow. They look
far better than the dark bare rock of summer. We encountered some snow
along the ridge but not enough to cause any problems. Some places along the
south side were bare. In many places there was 4 to 8 inches.
When we first saw the summit of Earl it seemed to be a long way away.
The ridge is mostly forested and so we would go from great views to back
into the trees again. Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams were clear to the south.
North of the Stuart Range were some more serious clouds. Higher on the ridge
I could see out to Three Queens Mountain. The Cascade crest was in the clear.
After passing Point 5693 the route flattened out. Before reaching the pass
where the Bean Creek Trail crosses we had an obstacle to get around. A gently
rising traverse took us around on the right side. The left side is too cliffy.
On my previous trip a dozen years ago I remembered lots of scree. This time
much of the way had a few inches of snow which made for better foot steps
than the scree. The wind was now blowing steadily and we took advantage
of the wind break made by the ridge top to take a break. Miller Peak and
Little Navaho were now in sight and cloaked in white.
After a nice break, and now back on the ridge top, we had an easy walk
to the pass. From here the summit is four tenths of a mile and 850 vertical
feet away. It was mostly a thin snow cover with some bare ground and drifts
up to a little more than knee deep. I topped out on the summit just about
at 12:00 and right on time for lunch. The wind was strong and cold enough
to make everyone climb over to the leeward side of the summit. It was fairly
comfortable out of the wind. My thermometer was reading about 40 degrees.
The little tarn in upper Stafford Creek Basin was frozen over and snow
covered. Most of the Stuart Range was in the clear although Mt. Stuart
itself had the top mostly in clouds. The overall views were outstanding.
Four weeks ago I was lounging around Lake Ann under Fortune Peak. The
larch were peaking and the sun was warm. Now I could see Fortune with a solid
blanket of white. We were able to have a nice long stay on top but the cold
soon had us thinking about getting moving again. The first 850' down to the
pass went very quickly. It would have been even faster but I couldn't resist
the chance to keep photographing all the snow covered peaks. It may be quite
a few months before I am back on a summit over 7000'. I have been to that
pass between Bean Creek Basin and Standup Creek Basin many times. I have
still never seen the trail down to Bean Creek. It has always been covered
with snow. This day was no different. We plunged down the snowy slope. There
was enough snow to give some traction but not enough to make it easy. Too
far to the right leads to a steep gully. By angling left we stayed on reasonable
terrain. Part way down we found the trail and found and lost it several times
before reaching the valley bottom.
The last obstacles of the day were two crossings of Bean Creek. The basin
was completely snow covered but there was not enough to hinder dropping
down to the creek. I think everyone made it across with dry feet. From there
it was easy going along the side of the creek. We were down to the lower
crossing in no time. This one was a little trickier but no real problem.
A short distance down we met up with the Beverly Creek Trail and turned
left. Another half mile brought us back to the trailhead. The thin snow cover
in the morning had all melted in the parking lot.
This was a fun way to do a summit I have visited often. The off trail
ridge ramble was great and the fresh snow on the peaks was outstanding. The
group was strong and a good group to spend a day with. This will probably
be my last visit to the Teanaway until I hear Iron Peak once again calling
my name next spring. That is, unless I make another ski trip back up there
this winter. All in all, it was a short 6 miles round trip with a considerable
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.
Photo Page 2
Trips - 2004