Hannegan Peak

Suzanne, Bob, Kolleen, and I planned to get out for the weekend. We just couldn't decide where to go or what to do. Suzanne temporarily has a second dog and we weren't sure how Clover would handle snow. It took until 9:00 pm on Friday before we settled on two day hikes with a car camp in the North Cascades. Suzanne and I met Bob and Kolleen at the Glacier Ranger Station east of Bellingham at 9:15 am. From there we headed on to the Hannegan Pass trailhead. I put up a my tent to secure what looked to be the last available camping site. Although it was still fairly early the parking lot was nearly full. By about 10:00 we were on the trail.

The trail begins with a gentle grade and for the most part stays that way for 3 1/2 miles to the hikers campgrounds. Flowers started immediately and never let up. Lots of tiger lilies brightened up the lower trail. Lupine, paintbrush, columbine, queen's cup, penstemon, wild rose, and more carpeted the hillside. There was lots of water still running though all the creeks were easy rock hops at worst. The forecast was for a cloudy morning giving way to a sunny afternoon. It proved to be half correct.

Even with the clouds the temperature was comfortable. There were numerous large waterfalls falling off the steep walls on the other side of the Ruth Creek valley. As we ascended Mt. Ruth and Ruth Arm came into view. That was one of our options for the weekend. We did not know how the dogs would do on the steeper snow so decided against it. It sure does look like a fun climb. Ruth was in view for much of the day.

At Hannegan camp we finally found some snow. About half the campsites were bare and half still under snow. The snow will be gone very soon. There were some bugs from the start but they were a bit more annoying here. We took food and water break. As we were leaving a group of about a dozen women were arriving. Several others were there earlier and all totaled it was quite a crowd.

After the camp the trail finally became steeper for the final half mile push to Hannegan Pass. We encountered a little snow but not enough to be any problem. Lots of flowers were blooming although the snow had blanketed the slopes until just a week or two earlier. We arrived at the pass to find that peaks to the east were also in the clouds. My old 101 hikes book talks about wandering up the ridge to Hannegan Peak. I expected a boot path. We found a regular trail all the way up. It starts out switchbacking very gently but finally gets down to business higher up.

The summit views were good but I can see where they would be outstanding on a clear day. We saw a few small slices of Shuksan and Baker. Granite Mountain is just down the ridge. We did have a very nice view of both peaks of Goat Mountain. The star of the day was Mt. Ruth. There were dozens of climbers heading up and down all day. One person on the summit mentioned seeing 18 climbers at one time. It was not a day for any semblance of solitude on Ruth.

Hannegan, on the other hand, was not so crowded. There were one or two other groups on top at any given time while we were there. There was still some good sized snow patches which would make camping on the summit very easy. If fact, two guys came up to do just that. The summit would make a great camp site while the snow holds out. We considered scrambling up Granite Mountain but decided to just stay put instead.

We must have spent well over an hour on the summit. It was much nicer than the trailhead where we would be camping that night. We hoped that the afternoon clearing would occur but there was no break in the clouds. Finally at around 3:30 we packed up and headed down. The mostly gentle trail was easy on our knees. Coming down was a lot faster as we took far fewer photos. At 5:35 we reached the trailhead. As usual the trail seemed much longer on the way down than up.

Another group had managed to squeeze tents into a small area next to ours. That was a little annoying but they did quiet down by 10:00 pm. For the day we covered about 11 miles with 3200' gained. We were up early the next morning for day two and Yellow Aster Butte.


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Trips - 2006