Iron - Bean Peaks Loop
This was a hike I had long planned.
Well, since along about 7:00 pm the evening before. I figured I was through
with the Teanaway until October larch time but the weather intervened. The
west slopes were forecast to be raining in the morning and so I turned my
attention to the east once again. The Teanaway is usually about 80 to 90
degrees this time of year but the high was expected to be only about 70. Best
of all there was no chance of rain. I love to scramble the great rock on
Bean Peak and do a loop trip over the peak most years. This time, to make
it more interesting, I decided to add Iron Peak to the loop. I hit Iron most
springs, including this year
, but had not been up without snow in quite a few years. It was only a
little overcast in Seattle but between the floating bridge beyond Hyak my
wipers stayed on. I was more than happy to continue east. By the time I reached
Cle Elum it was all blue sky. I reached the Beverly Creek trailhead at 8:30
and I was on the trail within 10 minutes.
The bushes were all wet confirming my plan to hike
clockwise and leave the overgrown lower Bean Creek trail until the afternoon.
Bean Creek had more water than I expected in August but it was no problem
getting across. The morning was cool and very comfortable for hiking. I made
good time, reaching the Fourth Creek intersection in 66 minutes. The next
short section to Beverly Creek was filled with wildflowers. Paintbrush was
the main flower. I expected they would all be long gone with this dry hot
summer. This boded well for my later walk through Bean Creek Basin. The actual
trail goes to the low pass below Teanaway Peak. This is substantially longer
than my usual direct ascent to the summit on snow. At the Iron Peak trail
junction I turned left and headed uphill. All the small creeks along the route
were still running although the last snow melted out at least 6 weeks ago.
I soon reached the ridge top and turned left again, aiming for the summit.
As I proceeded up the ridge I saw clouds streaming up the valley. They were
above and well below me. The top half of Mt. Stuart was in the clouds.
That situation did not change all day long.
The old ridge "route" has now become a regular trail.
The switchbacks up the first steep slope look like regular tread. This is
not a bad thing as it keeps people on the route and off of the fragile flowers.
I saw several light yellow/green paintbrush flowers along the ridge. That
is one variety that I seldom see. I arrived at the 6520' summit just about
the same time as the clouds. I could still see down into Beverly Basin but
otherwise my visibility was almost nil. It was actually nice when contrasted
to all the hot hikes I have had this summer. I would guess it was about 45
degrees on top but there was almost no wind. I had half my lunch here at
11:00 and saved the rest for Bean Peak. After a half hour stay I was off again
Just after turning onto the Beverly Creek trail I
met my first hikers of the day. This group included an old friend. Linda
was with her usual group heading up Iron. I wasn't the only one to head east
to avoid the rain. Back at the Fourth Creek junction I met the backpacker
who was leaving the trailhead just after me. Two women on horses came by and
headed up the Fourth Creek Trail. I gave them a little head start and then
followed. I expected the horses to quickly pull away on this uphill grade.
Instead I started to catch up. Shortly before Fourth Creek Pass they stopped
and I went on by. This was the first and likely the only time I will ever
pass a group of horses. I hit the pass and kept on going. The trail splits
but the sign is now gone. The left hand trail drops down to Ingalls Creek.
The right hand trail is the County Line Trail and crosses a long meadow before
climbing to the ridge top just right of Volcanic Neck. None of the creeks
along the trail were dry. By August only two are usually still running. Either
it rained hard here the last few days or this area was not been as dry as
much of the mountains. With those horses behind me I did not take any breaks.
I soon reached the base of the ridge.
The trail has at times been a little sketchy up to
the ridge top. This year it is in fine shape. I crested the ridge just as
the horses reached the bottom. From the ridge I could see
. I've already been up it twice this year. I had a great viewpoint of
the Stuart Range. Well, actually I had a great view of the bottom half of
the Stuart Range. The tops were lost in the clouds. The next section is
among my favorite. You can follow right on the ridge top all the way to
the summit of Bean. Mostly it is easy walking or scrambling. I topped out
on Bean Peak at 1:35. The sun was now moving in and out of the clouds. It
was occasionally providing some warming. Once again there was almost no
wind. I heard voices... I mean I REALLY DID hear voices. I never did see
the people. I have noticed that voices can carry a long distance around
there. This is a real favorite among summits for me. I spent some time scrambling
up and down the peak. It has some of the best rock I have been on. It is
very sticky with lots of hand and foot holds on very steep rock. I was happy
to spend 1 1/4 hours on top.
I usually either head down the ridge connecting to
Earl Peak or head down the face and contour left to reach the final grass
and scree slope into the basin. This time I decided to explore to the right.
I dropped down the face and headed right on talus and boulders. This turned
out to be a very nice route. I managed to avoid the scree to the east. After
dropping 1100' I reached the top of Bean Creek Basin. Paintbrush were still
flowering in profusion. The lupine is all finished though. I crossed over
to the left side and descended to where I knew I could pick up the trail.
Unlike nearly every other time I have dropped into the basin there were no
people. I guess the bad weather scared most people away. I was in no hurry
and slowly worked my way down the valley. I had many opportunities to take
flower photos. In the lower basin the flowers petered out and I began to quicken
my pace. After dropping down into the forest I passed the fourth and last
party of the day. The rest of the descent was uneventful. At 4:45 I reached
my car ending a great 8 hour day. I had 2 summits, many more flowers than
expected, very few people, and nice cool summer temperatures. It was an excellent
last minute planned hike.
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.
Iron Summit Ridge
Photo Page 2
Trips - 2004