Earl Peak

On this wet windy crappy day we chose to head east. It is unusual to be able to drive up the NF Teanaway Road at the end of November and have almost no snow. Barry, David, Bob, Kolleen, David2, and his son Peter joined me. There was a little snow on the Beverly Creek Road though not enough to stop most any car. A bigger problem is the 7 or 8 big drain ditches cut across the road. None are at places where there has been water damage to the road. Hit one at normal speed and you may bust your suspension. What were they thinking?

We were on the trail at 9:40. We quickly reached Bean Creek and turned right on the Bean Creek Trail. There was some ice draped on branches and rocks along the creek but the rocks at our crossing were ice free. We all made the rock hop with dry feet. There was a little snow along the trail but not gaiters deep anywhere. We continued into the lower basin and had no trouble crossing back across Bean Creek.

We were following some other footprints and they also headed up towards the ridge of Earl Peak. I have been down this section of trail on snow but never up it. Most of my Earl Peak climbs from the basin have been more or less straight up. I don't think I have taken the same route twice. It was interesting to follow the real trail for a change. The route is a little narrow on places but climbs at a gentle grade through many switchbacks.

As we climbed up towards the ridge the wind began to blow. The forecast warned of 10-17 mph winds and it was soon all of that. Once on the ridge we took a food break and broke out more clothing. I was the only person not to put on a shell. I did exchange the baseball cap for a watch cap as the former would have quickly blown away in the wind. The last 800' is a grind but not difficult. There was surprisingly little snow on the ridge.

We managed to avoid most of the snow. As we climbed the view back down the ridge was amazing. The wind was coming from the right. To the right of the ridge it was clear. Starting at the ridge line and to the left was a dense layer of clouds. They seemed to appear right at the ridge and blow east. I have never seen anything like it. Barry took off ahead and the rest of us were fairly close together.

Soon enough we all reached the summit. Mt. Stuart was lost in the clouds but we could see the near ridges and down into Bean Creek Basin. I had to lean into a summit rock to get steady enough to take photos. Most all clothing went on. The temperature was probably in the high 30s but with the wind chill it was sub freezing. We managed to hang around for about 25 minutes on top before the wind drove us away.

It took only 18 minutes to reach the ridge top. Once off the ridge the wind lessened and by the time we reached the basin it had nearly died down entirely. The rest of the way down was just a speedy slog. We come back to the trailhead much faster than I expected. We took about 2 1/2 hours to ascend and less than 2 hours to come down. This was a rare trip when the driving time equaled the hiking time.

On the drive home the rain began before Easton and continued all the way over the pass and beyond North Bend. It may have been windy on the summit but we were dry all day long. This is as late in the year as I can recall hiking up a 7000' peak with almost no snow. Hopefully winter will arrive soon and we can break out the snowshoes and ice axes. Last weekend at Wright Mountain seemed like winter but this day was more like the middle of fall. A good trail, a good summit, and good company made for a fun day in the mountains.

David has posted a report here:  Nwhikers Report & Photos

Beverly Parking Lot
Ice Along Bean Creek
Snow On Bean Ck Trail
Crossing Bean Creek
First View Of Earl Peak
Bean Peak
Judy Peak
Ridge Of Earl
Clouds Forming On Ridge
Judy & Mary Peaks
Leeward Clouds
Climbing Ridge
On Some Snow
Summit In Sight
High On Ridge
Almost There
Clouds All Around
Frozen Tarn
Ridge To Bean Peak
Michelin Man David
Looking Down Ridge
Bob & Kolleen
Summit Group Shot
Heading Down
Scraggly Trees
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2008