It looked like a good weekend to head east and escape
a cloudy Cascade crest. Suzanne, Kelly and I headed to Blewett Pass to meet
Bob, Kolleen, and Joe. We figured on 9:00 AM but we were both there a little
after 8:30. It was a chilly 23 degrees when we started out. Joe had done
half our proposed route the year before. The rest of us had not done any
of it. I did drive to Haney Meadow last summer for a hike and that would
be near our mid point. There were just a few snowmobile trailers in the lot.
Since this was a last minute idea I had only the evening before to try and
figure out the route. Joe did have a route route programmed into his GPS.
We started up the road and soon reached the Discovery Trail. This is
a 2 mile summer loop trail with markers naming trees along the way. On the
positive side, there were trail signs at most intersections. These are
ski trails that have been around for many years. We found older tracks, ski
and snowshoe, in the hard snow. Some tracks went all the way around our
We more or less followed a ridge above Tronsen Meadow heading towards
Diamond Head. It was not steep though it gained elevation consistently
though with a few ups and downs. The pace was pretty fast as we booted
it along the hard snow route. Some folks did the whole route without snowshoes.
Bob and I did put them on coming down when postholing became a problem
for us heavyweights.
We reached an open slope right on the side of Diamond Head. I can see
where this could be a problem with some avalanche danger. With the hard
pack and the lack of recent snow at all the danger was very low. Bob, Kolleen,
and Joe stopped for a food break and the rest of us continued on. Soon
we crossed another open slope. The route took a leftward turn away from
Diamond Head and left forest for an open bowl. A turn back to the right
and we headed up the end of the valley towards a pass.
This was a neat place. There were some rocks sticking through but it
was mostly snow. The contrast was striking. As we climbed higher we found
a number of very big larch trees. No signs of needle activity yet. To our
left was a bump we had heard referred to as Tronsen Head or Little Diamond
Head. We came to another signed intersection. Left towards the Table Mountain
Road and a route up Diamond Head. Straight ahead towards Haney Meadow. We
debated trying to add Diamond Head to the loop but decided the loop alone
would be enough.
At the saddle we saw yet another sign. Right to Haney Meadow. This may
be correct but it is not the shortest way. A track went straight ahead as
well. Off we went right towards Diamond Head and directly away from Haney
Meadow. The route has blue diamonds all the way and we continued to follow
them. Finally we switched back and then lost the diamonds. After map and
GPS consultations we concluded we needed to turn around and head down.
Within a few minutes we intersected a summer trail complete with a horseshoe
sign indicating this is a horse trail. This route brought us to another
signed intersection. Right to Haney Meadow. Left to Haney via the View Ridge
Trail. We opted to go for the views rather than a flat forest walk to the
meadow. A bit of gain and we could see out to Diamond Head, Tronsen Head,
and the saddle we had been at earlier. It was now obvious that going straight
at the saddle would have been much shorter and easier.
Views of the Stuart Range and various Teanaway peaks appeared. It had
been all blue sky from the start but now high white clouds had blown in.
The hoped for clear view of peaks to the west were dashed. Still it was
a very nice view. The route continued to climb up the ridge. There were
trees but it was partly open as well. As we moved higher the views improved
in all directions. Even Mt. Rainier showed itself.
A bit of a breeze was blowing and it was cold once again. It was still
only about 11:30 when we stopped for lunch. It took us about 3 hours to
reach the high point. We started just below 4100' at Blewett Pass and the
high point was near 5900'. With more clothing on it was perfectly comfortable
on the ridge top. We could see Haney Meadow below and Mt. Lillian behind it.
Tronsen ridge is already showing bare rock near the top on the west side.
All in all, a very nice place to look at mountains.
After lunch we headed right on down the ridge. The snow was still plenty
firm as we plodded on down. We finally came out on a road which I recognized
from last summer. It was just beyond Haney Meadow. We quickly reached a
turn off for the Old Ellensburg Trail. At the Tronsen Meadow trail we left
the road to the left. The route began a slow descent. sometimes on flats
and sometimes side hilling. We still had a few snowshoe tracks but not as
At one point is seemed we had left the trail as we were now side hilling
on steeper terrain. There did not seem to be any trail cut at all. When
Bob and I began to posthole well past our knees we stopped to put on
snowshoes. Soon after the snow firmed up but we just kept them on rather
than stop again. As we finally began to drop faster we regained a trail bed.
Less side hilling now and hence easier walking. We could see back up to
Diamond Head and the whole ridge we had walked along earlier.
The fir forest began to include big ponderosa pines as well. Our route
flattened and soon we come out into a clearing with a trail sign. This is
the start of the summer Tronsen Ridge Trail. We could see the ridge we
had ascended from Blewett Pass and tried to figure out the easier way to
get over to it. Much map reading ensued and we chose to follow the road
for awhile. It swung around the valley heading more or less in the correct
The forest here is small trees densely packed and going cross country
would not have been any fun. We took left road junctions where possible
and reached an opening in the forest that must have been some of Tronsen
Meadow. Another road took us uphill again. At an intersection we went left
on a signed ski track uphill. When this route began to drop we checked the
map and concluded it was headed to Highway 97 north of the pass.
We went back off road and climbed again with the ridge now not too far
away. Suzanne, Kolleen, were ahead and they saw a lone person. That was
the only person of the day and I did not see him. Joe recognized our uphill
route though none of the rest of us thought that was it. We followed it down
then up to an intersection. That was indeed a place we had been on the way
The sign said .75 miles to the pass. In a few minutes we reached a road.
The group crossed and Joe said he preferred to take road back down as his
knees were hurting. I could not recall having crossed a road on the way
up. Off we went be a big sign for the Discovery Trail that I did not recall
seeing. Something was not looking right. Kelly and I called out to stop the
group. We were certain we were on the other part of the Discovery Loop. The
much longer part. We headed back a short bit and then straight down to reach
the parking lot almost immediately. Our detour did not cost us too much
It's always fun to do a route for the first time. Half of the route
none of had ever been on. Of course once we left the highest ridge the
clouds all disappeared and we had bright blue sky once again. I came down
the last 4 miles in short sleeves. Upper 30s and sunshine can be very warm
when you are on the move. We had some fun route finding, some good views,
a great ridge walk, and very good snow conditions. I would not have wanted
to ski on the hard snow but it was great for boots. I can see making a return
trip over here in the next few years. Especially on days when the Cascade
crest is in the clouds.
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.
First View Out
Stuart & Teanaway Pks
First Avalanche Swath
Suzanne & Kelly
Framed Mt. Stuart
Back On Trail
Stuart & Tronsen Head
Waiting On The Ridge
Near High Point
Mt. Stuart Close Up
Suzanne & Gusto
Out In The Sunshine
Where We Were
Diamond Head Again
Stuart & Pine
Trips - 2008