Mt. Baldy

Saturday Suzanne and I went hiking with one of her daughters and three days later we headed off with the other. Suzanne, Katie, Mike, and I headed off early on the Fourth of July. It was raining lightly in Seattle when we left. Our plan was to hike up Red Mountain near Snoqualmie Pass. The rain stopped as we drove east but it was still cloudy. The thought of wet brush in Commonwealth Creek and clouds caused us to make a slight detour. We drove on east to Easton. The Easton Ridge/Silver Creek trailhead was empty when we arrived. Well, not entirely empty. The mosquitos were out in force. It was the first time in nearly a year we had serious bug issues. We were on the trail by about 8:30.

The clouds stopped somewhere just to the west of us as it was mostly sunny. We hightailed it up the trail trying to stay one step ahead of the mosquitos. Getting away from the creek helped as they soon were only annoying. I have hike this trail all on snow and in summer. Higher up the flowers have been very good. This day they began low down and continued all the way up the trail. We saw a number of tiger lilies and some columbine. Wild roses were blooming. There was bleeding heart. There were also many flowers I recognized but could not remember the names.

The kids took off at a faster clip and Suzanne and I stopped to take photos. They were soon out of sight. The clear cut section above the road intersection is improving. The tread is good and bushes are filling in the bare hillside. The elevation gain is steady but nothing like what awaited us above. Our group met up at the intersection of the Easton Ridge and Domerie Divide trails. We turned left on the Domerie Divide. The next section is fairly flat with some views to the west. We could see Lake Kachess, Amablilis Mountain, Lake Easton, and just about straight down to the car.

The route soon turned uphill as the ridge steepened considerably. It was already getting hot and the steep dusty trail caused us all to slow down. Balsamroot appeared though it was mostly well past it's peak. Lupine also began. The rest of the way up to the ridge top is just plain steep. There are some switchbacks and some right up the fall line sections. We made steady progress and soon popped out of the forest.

Mt. Baldy came into view. The flowers took on a rock garden appearance as bright penstemon, lupine, paintbrush, and balsamroot dominated. We reached the Kachess Ridge intersection and took a right turn. The trail to Baldy has some ups and downs as it follows on or just right of the ridge top. This is the one place I have seen balsamroot and bear grass growing side by side. They were both blooming again this day. We had views out to Mt. Stuart, Mt. Daniel, Thomas Mountain, and Lake Cle Elum. The route winds under Baldy and the south slope is open for easy walking to the top.

It was getting very warm as we sat down on top and had lunch. Mike is from New Hampshire and was making his first visit to the mountains of the west. While this is only a 5107' summit it does have excellent views. We added Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams to the peaks we saw from the ridge. The Cascade crest had cleared off as well. The two dogs were having a tough time as this is a very dry trail after leaving the creek. We carried extra water for them and that helped. The high was forecast to be in the low 70s but it was at least 10-15 degrees warmer than that.

All too soon we packed up and headed back. The ridge walk went fast. From the intersection down it is in many ways more difficult than coming up. We all slipped and had a few spills on the steep and sometimes loose tread. As we descended clouds began to move in. There was a chance of thunder showers in the forecast and the clear skies quickly took on a darker hue. Once down at the creek Sadie managed to swim behind the man made waterfall. It looked so good that we planned a short detour on the way home.

Lake Easton State Park is just across the highway and we pulled in. The holiday crowds had mostly headed for home and we easily parked right at the beach. The lake is high now and the beach is minimal but it was great for cooling off. We heard thunder and were glad to no longer be up on the ridge. The drive home proved to be a breeze as the feared holiday traffic never materialized.

For a last minute decision it turned out to be a good hike. We saw exactly zero other people the whole trip. The views are really very good. The flowers were the best I have ever seen on this trail. I think a good time was had by all.

As Soon
As I Get
Caught Up!

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Trips - 2006