Carne Mountain
Day 2

Day 2
 It was a long cold night. We had decided to get up at 7:00 am. Early enough for good morning light but late enough to hopefully get a little warmth started. That meant 11 hours in a sleeping bag in a small one-person tent. When nature called at 4:30 am it was very cold outside. My fly had frost inside the vestibule. By 7:00 am is was getting light and we were both ready to get up. Gary's tarptent and bivy combo did okay too. As we prepared breakfast Gary showed me a photo of his thermometer. It showed 24 degrees. I asked him to check it now. How about 18 degrees? His photo seen on a big computer monitor showed it was actually 17 degrees. Right about the coldest I have been in the morning on a hike. It was 11 degrees colder than the spot forecast. We were anxious to get moving.
 At 7:57 am we were packed and ready to head out. The larch trees in the basin were duller without direct sunshine but the colors were still pretty good. The trail was once again white with frost. We had decided to head back up to the ridge top below Carne Mountain and then head down to the Rock Creek Trail and beyond. We hoped to go about 3 miles from camp to another grove of larch trees we had seen before while hiking the Carne High Route. As we rose out of the basin it became warmer. By the time we reached the ridge top it was 26 degrees. It was also in the sunshine. With no wind, it was so much nicer than back during breakfast. The views east were spectacular. Peaks of the Entiat Mountains and larch trees everywhere. The trail drops down from the ridge and most every step had sunlit larch. It might have been the best lighting for larch on the whole trip.
 The great conditions meant a lot of photos. That meant a snail's pace. And that was a good thing. We came here to see larch at their peak not just to get in hiking miles. As we dropped below the ridge we saw a lone tent up a short side trail. A great spot for the morning sunshine. We did not see the person with the tent. Eventually, we hiked down then up to the next saddle in a different ridge dropping from Carne Mountain. On the backside of that ridge, we were out of the sunshine. It was colder and there were no more sunlit larch trees. We continued along for a while and then stopped to reconsider. We could continue another mile to the start of the larch trees and then climb higher through them or turn around now. Going on would give us some neat larch but going back did too. Also, we began to calculate how much later we would get back to camp. We still had a steep trail down and a long drive back to Seattle. Heading back to enjoy the currently lit up larch and then the trees in the basin as the sun reached them a little later won out.
 We slowly retraced our steps over the ridge and back into the sunshine. The sun was a bit higher now and the lighting a little different. Views and photos were a bit different. It was an incredible larch display and there were no other people in sight. That would not be the case without the very cold evening we just had. We had plenty of time to just enjoy the day. Back at the ridge top, we took a long break while we were still in the sunshine. Some fast day hikers were already appearing. It was 12:00 pm when we arrived back in camp. Our four hour jaunt had provided some great morning lighting for viewing the golden larch. As we neared camp I was recognized for the second time in two days. Also, about the second time in several years. It was Suzanne Rowen. We had hiked together in a group and run into each other before on the trail. Always nice to meet someone unexpectedly.
 We had plenty of time left so we sat in camp and enjoyed the views. Gary counted the folks coming up the trail into the basin. The count steadily grew. This is nowhere near as crowded as some larch hikes that are more accessible. Still, this was a Friday not a weekend. Larch season is short so I could see folks, like me, who took a day off work. The expected morning overcast never occurred. It was sunny for the second day in a row despite the forecast. At least the one when we left Internet access. There is no signal up the Chiwawa River. It also meant we had another day of ideal larch conditions. It was fun to see folks limp into the basin after the steep trail up and gasp when they saw the colors.
 We finally packed up our gear and again sat down for one last look at things. We figured most day hikers were probably already in the basin so the trail would be less crowded. We headed down at about 1:20 pm. We met several groups coming up near the top. Farther down we saw fewer. Gary kept up his count. We saw more backpackers than I expected. I hope they were prepared for sub 20 degree temperatures. Some clouds began to come in too. Near the bottom, a few young day hikers did pass us. Several more passed by as we neared the parking lot. I was happy to be down. One thousand feet elevation loss per mile is a bit of a knee cruncher with an overnight pack. We took one break in the middle and reached the parking lot at 3:21 pm. The lot was now full and we saw cars parked along the road for .20 miles. I believe Gary's last count was 56 day hikers and 11 backpackers. A big crowd for this trail but a fraction of those hiking Maple Pass, Ingalls Lake, and other larch favorites.
 Heading down the road, we found that the brush and close branches had been cut. Some were still laying on the road. The noise did not return even when we turned on the interior fan. Checking at home I'm pretty sure it is the blower motor. A cheap fix, not a major engine problem. A stop at the 59er Diner for dinner and we were heading for home. We did not make it home before dark but I arrived home a little after 7:00 pm.
 I don't often take off two days during the workweek but this one was well worth it. The sky was much clearer than forecast. That meant the larch were continuously lit up when the sun was high enough to reach them. It also meant an even colder night. We were prepared though we did not expect anything close to 17 degrees. Camping in the basin meant only two other backpackers were around in the morning and evening. They did not seem to get beyond the basin floor. Our trip up the first summit was a first for both of us. I hope to get in one good larch trip each fall and this one really delivered.
17 Degree Morning
Gary In Camp
Frosty Start
Unlit Larch
Upper Meadow
Larch Alley
Sunshine On Ridge
Sunny On Ridge Top
Looking Down
Lookout Site
Heading On
Great Morning Light
Big Bright Larch
Wow Colors
Peaking Colors
Western Anemones
Gary & Larch
Gold On Blue
At Saddle
Maude & Larch II
Glacier Appears
Turnaround Time
Rocks & Larch
Frosty White
Back In The Saddle
Rock Creek Valley
Rock Creek Trail
Nice Section
Uphill Time
More Anemones
Meadow Below
Larchy Ridges
Yesterday's Summit
Clark Mt. Again
Great Colors!
Buck Over Basin
Zoom Of Basin
Slow Hiking
Framed Buck Again
Basin View
Another Look
Larch Needles
Last Basin View
Crowded Parking Lot
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

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Carne Mountain Report

Trips - 2021