Mt. David

Mt. David is one of my favorite fall hikes. The trail is smooth up to the ridge. The ridge walk is among the best in the Cascades. The view from the 7420' summit is outstanding. The first time I hiked David I spent nearly six hours driving plus the 16 mile hike with 5700' gained. That was one long day. The next time Gary came along and we used his camper van. We drove over Friday night, camped in comfort, and then had an early start on the trail. This time we repeated that formula. We reached the trailhead after dark at about 8:15. An enormous truck and horse trailer came in at about 1:30 am and woke us both up. That thing was loud.

We were up at 6:00 and on the trail by 7:00. The morning was cool but there wasn't a cloud in the sky. We sped along the first mile, losing 100', to where the Mt. David trail splits with the Panther Creek trail. The next 3 1/2 miles gains 3150' on smooth trail at a moderate grade. We quickly peeled down to shorts and short sleeve shirts. That was a nice change from the wet and cold weather we've had this September. On my previous September trips up David there were some muted colors. I felt it just wasn't a very good hike for color. This soon proved to be untrue. Yellows at first then orange and red. The higher we went the better it was. Looking down the valley we saw that fog covered Lake Wenatchee and came well towards the trailhead. We were fortunate to be just above it.

We took a number of short stops to take pictures but kept up a consistent pace. On both my earlier trips I reached the ridge to in almost exactly 2:15. This time we hit the ridge at...2:14. I'm nothing if not consistent. The ridge walk was as good as I remembered. Clark Mountain had a fresh coat of snow across the valley. We could see Boulder Pass and some of the trail heading up to it. Mt. Daniel was just showing over the ridge to the south. Mt. Rainier was seen as well. The foliage was blindingly bright red. This was quickly turning into one of the best fall color hikes I have done. With zero wind the temperature was nearly perfect. We soon came to the side trail down to the meadow below. On the last trip Gary went part way down and we debated doing a loop via the meadow. Either way we were going up on the ridge top.

The trail goes from one side of the ridge to the other. The views are spectacular on both sides. After switchbacking up the steep gully we reached the ridge and dropped down one last time before regaining the ridge just below the summit. If there was going to be any fresh snow it would be here. One tiny patch was along the route but that was it. The route here is mostly through small rocks. From the ridge it is a short way to the summit. It's a little scrambly but not at all tough. The last section was blasted from the rock. We topped out at about 11:50. The first view of Glacier Peak is from the summit itself. It was bright white with fresh snow. Even at over 7400' it was warm enough that we just stayed in short sleeve shirts.

Below the mountain was a narrow band of larch trees. They were very close to their golden peak. At 12:30 Sandra and here dog Skai (Sky) showed up. She gained the vertical mile and 8 trail miles in only 3 hours. That's a little beyond my ability. Sandra joined us as we headed over to the rock walled Mt. David outhouse. It has a phenomenal view of Sloan Peak and the Monte Cristo group. Sandra headed down just as another solo hiker arrived. On my previous trips I had never seen anyone from the ridge top to the summit. Two other people on top constituted a crowd. As we prepared to head down Gary brought up the option of taking the cross country route via the meadow. Since I'd done the ridge walk in and out twice before I agreed to taking the off trail route.

We had glanced at the map and seen much of the route from the ridge top while coming in. The summit gave a sky high view as well. It looked like a reasonable route. We dropped down to the ridge then descended to the lowest point on the trail. From there we dropped down on heather. The first few hundred feet were the steepest. In several places water was seeping out of the slope and created slick rocks and muddy ground. We managed to stay on heather until we reached more moderate slopes. Going to the right seemed like it would get cliffy so we angled to our left. Looking back up the slope the sun turned the foliage to fiery reds, oranges, and yellows. We picked up some animal trails and in a few places it looked like real built tread. We wondered if the original lookout trail went here instead of along the ridge top.

By staying on a gently rounded rib we avoided a series of very steep sections. The route proved to be very reasonable. We were slow due to taking many photos but in due time we reached the lower meadow. The color of the grass was blindingly bright yellow. We found and lost bits of trail. Gary was fairly certain where we would pick up the trail back to the ridge top. We followed the left side of the meadow and at the end of it the trail materialized. The trail was a bit sketchy down low then improved. In a series of switchbacks we climbed 400' to the ridge top. Our little detour made a great hike even better. After a nice break on the ridge we packed up for the trip down. The trip down was very fast. From where we left the ridge it was only 1:35 back to the trailhead. We finished up with a stop at the 59er Diner.

For the third time I lucked out with outstanding weather at the end of September for this trip. For the first time I enjoyed tremendous fall colors. The forecast was for partly cloudy skies but we did not see any. It was so clear we could even pick out The Brothers in the Olympics from well into Eastern Washington. The cross country leg added a great addition to the trip. I'm sure in a few years I will be back.

Start Of Colors
Light Red Colors
Fog In The Valley
Improving Colors
Red Along Trail
 Brightly Backlit
Ridge Top
Mt. David Summit
Mt. Daniel
Lower Meadow
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Photo Page 2

Trips - 2004