Mutton Mountain

Time for a longer snowshoe trip. Suzanne put together a trip to Noble Knob or Mutton Mountain. Gary and I first did Noble Knob a dozen years ago. We went on Memorial Day weekend of a high snow year. The Deep Creek Trail is in the Mt. Rainier rain shadow and we were pleasantly surprised to find much less snow than expected. We hit snow a little before the ridge top. Gary and I returned with Suzanne on the first weekend in March 2005. A very low snow year. We made it to the summit with only patchy snow. Suzanne and I returned in The summer of 2006 for a trip all on dirt. We through in Mutton Mountain too. For this trip we had a dozen hikers and three dogs. Piling into three cars headed south in light rain.

By the time we reached Enumclaw the sky began to clear. It kept getting better. I was pleasantly surprised to find almost no snow along Highway 410 at the Buck Creek Road. A mile later we saw the sign for Road 7170. There was some snow along the highway now and the road up was mostly snowy. Vehicles had been up it recently as there are a number of cabins along the road. We parked near the end and were on the trail a little before 9:30 am.

Once into the forest the snow lessened. In fact we had some bare dirt. The trailhead is at 2800' so I was surprised to find so little snow. The trail is never steep though it consistently gains elevation. Even when the snow began to get a little deeper we were able to stay on the summer route. At the viewpoint we could see Little Tahoma but Rainier was in the clouds. Over head it was now mostly blue. Right beyond the viewpoint the forest was melting. Trees were dumping a lot of water and some ice. It was a rain forest on a sunny day. We all got wet through here. I was glad when the route began to break out of the forest. No more raining on us. We continued up to the ridge top passing the summer trail junction. At the ridge top we were about 150' above the trail.

After a break and some discussion we chose to turn left (north) and follow the ridge to the high point. This point is higher than either Noble Knob or Mutton Mountain. some very cold breeze blowing on the ridge. We needed jackets even with the sun and steeper climbing. The snow conditions were excellent. Pretty well consolidated but never icy. With the recent big snow dumps I expected a lot more work breaking trail. We reached the first high point then dropped a little and climbed up to a higher point. My GPS recorded 4.2 miles to the ridge top and 4.77 to the summit. Other than Rainier in the clouds the views were terrific. We could see peaks to the north  and Mt. Stuart to the northeast. One ski slope at Crystal Mountain was visible. There were some low clouds in the valleys below that enhanced the views.

It was already 1:00 pm when we arrived and past time for lunch. With a very steep drop to the Noble Knob saddle we chose to leave that for another day. Instead be retraced our route back down the ridge. A short climb beyond where we attained the ridge an on to Mutton Mountain. We had to drop again then begin a fairly easy climb to the summit of Mutton. Not tough but as we neared 4000' of gain our legs could sure feel it. Mutton has a broad flat summit with plenty of room for our big group. A steady wind on top was plenty chilly. Still, we had a long stay soaking up the views.It was about 2:20 pm when we started down.

Down to the low point then the last steep climb along the ridge top. We met a small group heading for Mutton. They had followed our track up Deep Creek. The route down was easy walking though plenty long. We made good time. The only stops were at the viewpoint to remove jackets and lower down to take off our snowshoes. David and I were the last two down just before 4:30 pm. Still plenty of daylight left. Next weekend will be daylight saving time and darkness will be after 7:00 pm then.

The final GPS numbers were 10.7 miles round trip with 4300' of gain. Definitely a good workout on snow. It was so nice to have fresh snow flocking the trees and blue sky over head. It does not seem like we have had much blue sky lately. We had no traffic problems and I was home just after 6:00 pm. A fun day with some old and new friends and only one other group seen all day. The wind up high was a little stronger than I would have liked but a small price to pay for all the sunshine. A great time was had by all.

Deep Creek
Finally On Snow
Little Tahoma
Deeper Snow
Nearing The Ridge
Next Objective
Plastered Trees
On The Ridge Top
Mutton Mt. Summit
Stuart Range
View Back Along Ridge
Distant Mutton Mt.
Snowy Blob
Ridge To Mutton
Big Drop Off
Nearing Highest Point
David Near High Point
Noble Knob Summit
View Northwest
Mt. Stuart
Mutton From Ridge
Snowy Point
Descending Ridge
Tisha On Ridge
Heading To Mutton Mt.
Near Climb To Mutton
Barb & Elle
View North
Noble Knob
Flocked Trees
Lenticular Over Rainier
View South
Heading Down
Tracks Everywhere
Final Climb
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2012