Bean & Earl Peaks

Gary was free and we decided to head east. We did not settle on a destination until Saturday evening. I summit most main Teanaway peaks every 1-3 years. Earl is one of those peaks. I had not been up it in five years. I had not been up via Bean Creek Basin in nine years. Gary had not been up it in 16 years. That May 18th trip in 2003 was probably not a coincidental date. Gary scrambled up Earl on May 18th 1980. The day Mt. St. Helens blew its top. Nothing so exciting happened this day. We settled on doing Earl via Bean Creek with a possible second summit of Bean Peak. We met at Eastgate at 6:45 am. We drove to Cle Elum then up Highway 970 to the Teanaway River Road. I had heard the dirt section of the NF Teanaway Road had deteriorated a lot this year. That proved to be true. We had four miles of pot holes to the turn onto the Beverly Creek Road. That road has narrow with a lot of brush. Fine for one car but some of the pull outs have small trees growing in them. A clean up in in order. The two bad drain ditches across the road are even worse now. We had no problems with a small SUV. My sedan would have bottomed out most likely. It's a shame this road had not been regrades and continues to get worse.

We arrived at about 8:30 am. There were already 17 cars in the lot. That just about filled it. It was a balmy 42 degrees with blue sky when we started. We hiked up to Bean Creek and turned right on the Bean Creek Trail. Just before the creek there is now a "trail" cut straight up the slope to the ridge. I did not notice it last summer. It looks like a few hundred folks beat down all the ground cover. Why? It is seriously steep and goes nowhere. We began to see some wildflowers along the creek. A few for-get-me-nots, some false Solomon's seal, and some larkspur. Not a lot but a start.

I was not sure what to expect at the creek crossing. There was a good flow in Bean Creek but we managed to rock hop across with dry feet. Heading up the trail we saw a few Indian paintbrush in bloom. I mean a few. I saw a blooming scarlet gilia high above the trail. There were even some arrowleaf balsamroot and arnica in bloom. We continued up the trail seeing a few wildflowers but not a great show. We came out of the forest into the lower basin where wildflowers can be great. The slope that is covered in scarlet gilia in lat June was bare. Not a single one. The paintbrush and lupine have not started yet either. What we did see along the creek was a lot of shooting stars in bloom. Not a bad consolation prize for being early. On the hike up we debated doing Earl first of going for Bean Peak first. At the creek crossing the trail splits. We chose to head left up into the upper basin and go for Bean first. That meant we would summit both.

We found more shooting stars in the upper basin. Phlox was in the less damp spots. Still not much else was in bloom. Bright red Bean Peak sits at the head of the basin. I usually head up the boot path until it disappears then head left under the summit of Bean before heading straight up to the summit. Last year Gwen and I found that the boot path now goes all the way to the ridge top. Gary and I chose to try out this new path. It does go all the way to the ridge top. Years ago I did a Mountaineer scramble trip where we went straight up right about here. The last bit was on loose scree. we slipped but one step for each two taken. Now the path is rock free and makes it much easier. This is now a trail rather than a scramble. Things have been changing. We took a break atop the ridge. So far we had not seen many of the folks in all those cars. We did see several groups camping in the upper basin. We were alone scrambling towards Bean Peak.

I had only done this ridge route three of four times and not in the past fifteen years. The route was a little sketchy in my mind. For the most part just follow the ridge. Earl sits at the other end of this ridge. There was a bit more rock scrambling than I recalled but the route went just fine. We reached the summit at 11:16 am. The forecast called for clear skies to turn to 60% overcast by late morning. Some high clouds were coming in but the sky was largely blue still. The trade off for being early for the best wildflower show was that the peaks still have some snow. The white really highlights the peaks. In another month they will all by brown.. We were not in a big hurry and enjoyed a nice long stay on top. Views from the 6743' summit really are excellent. Mt. Stuart and the Stuart Range block views to the north but many peaks are visible in every other direction. We could see Mt. Adams and the Goat Rocks to the south. East were Iron Bear where I was last weekend, Miller, Navaho, and Three Brothers. West were peaks along the Cascade Crest and many closer peaks. Mt. Rainier was also in the clear.

We packed up and headed down at 12:00 pm. We left the ridge top in one spot and went onto more gentle terrain. On the way down we finally saw other groups heading up. One went by unseen but not unheard. Another we met on the flatter ridge farther down. The ridge over to Earl is often scrambled. I have done most of it but not at one time. I have also done much of it under snow. This would be my first traverse all the way to Earl. It turned out to be more interesting than expected. There are a number of rocky high spots along the ridge. Some we passed on the right, some on the left, and others right over the top. It is a fun and interesting route. When we reached the end of the ridge we met another hiker. Skyler was camping in the basin. He too was planning to head up Earl. We took another food and water break while he headed on up.

The ridge turns uphill and climbs steeply up to the 7036' summit of Earl Peak. We could see snow patches on the slope but it was mostly snow free. A blue bird landed on a tree near us. I seldom see then. He posed until I too a photo. We headed up at 1:25 pm. The climb was half a mile with 654' of elevation gain. It is steep but there is no exposure. We started on a boot path, lost it, then found it again higher up. We arrived at the summit of Earl at 2:02 pm. Skyler and a couple were there. A few minutes later another group arrived. We had a few more high clouds now but it was almost perfect. Great views and almost no wind. Lots of great views and even a sundog corona around the sun. One by one the others left and we were alone atop Earl.

We finally headed down at 3:18 pm. There is a boot path all the way down the the ridge op where the trail from Standup Creek crosses the ridge and drops to Bean Creek. It is a little loose at times but not very difficult. This slope to the south melts out earlier. It is .40 miles losing 840'. Now we were back on trail. The trail down into the basin makes a number of switchbacks. There was a little snow near the top but not much. The slopes down had thousands of spring beauty in bloom. We also saw a lot of western anemone blooming. They all seemed to be at their peak.  We saw a couple folks coming off Earl and one more person on this trail. We saw folks off and on but it was never close to being a crowd. We had tired legs with the steep ups and down and made steady but not fast progress going down. We reached the car at 5:21 pm.

It was a long day that only covered 8 miles with 3900' of elevation gain. The wildflower show was far from peak but we still had some good color. The scrambling was fun. Part of the benefit of the relatively short mileage was all the time we had to spend on the two summits. On the way home we ran into an accident caused backup from Easton to Cle Elum. That added a little over half an hour to our drive home. Soon the Teanaway Valley will be getting too hot for nearly a while day above the forest. This day was mostly sunny but not that hot. Nearly perfect conditions. All in all, a great day to scramble a couple of summits.

Bean Creek Crossing
Scarlet Gilia
Arrowleaf Balsamroot
Very Green Grass
Glacier Lily
Shooting Stars
Gary Rocks
Photo Stop
Boot Path To Ridge
Bean Summit Block
Mt. Rainier Over Ridge
Ridge Rambling
Gary Scrambling
Mt. Stuart
Fortune & Ingalls Peaks
Three Queens
Hibox & Alta Mountains
Jolly Mountain
Colchuck & Dragontail
Gary On Bean Summit
Bean Basin Below
Gary Descends
Colorful Flowers
Stuart Range
Earl Is Ahead
Gary On Ridge
Steep Climb Ahead
Silvered Forest
View NNW
Mt. Adams
Basin Below
Bears Breast Mountain
Hawkins & Crest Peaks
Summit Chief
Lemah & Chimney Rock
Sun Halo
Navaho & 3 Brothers
Descending Earl Peak
Western Anemone
Glacier Lilies
View To Bean Peak
Indian Paintbrush
I Am Ascending Bean Peak
I'm Heading Down From Bean Peak
Panorama Shot Of Mt. Rainier To Bean Peak
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2019