Earl Peak Via Standup

Gary was free for a Wednesday hike and my business closed at 10:00 am. It was the day before the Fourth of July holiday. I chose to take off half a day and go hiking. Also it was the last day before a heatwave arrived. 76F in Cle Elum would climb to 96 by Sunday and 102 by Tuesday. I wanted to get in one Teanaway peak before the heat arrived. One of my favorite routes is to scramble up Earl Peak via the Standup Creek Trail. It is much less crowded than the standard Bean Creek route. It is also longer with more elevation gain. The rocky ridge and summit scramble are a lot of fun. Gary did it the day Mt. St. Helens blew its top and again with me and John in 2020 early in the Covid pandemic. We needed an early start so we left Seattle at 6:00 am and reached the small trailhead at 7:55 am. We were the first car to arrive, as expected. With the Fourth on a Thursday, the Teanaway Valley would be mobbed from Wednesday evening through Sunday. We arrived well before the crowds. Though the summit spot forecast called for 68F, it was only 43F when we started hiking.

The first section is an old road without much elevation gain. We moved fast at first to warm up.  We saw wildflowers from the start. There were some deep purple short trumpet penstemon in the parking lot. We saw more of it higher up. There were some big patches of columbine in bloom. At this low altitude they were mostly past prime. Some still looked great. We also saw some arnica, Indian paintbrush, Valerian, Queen's cup, and starflower. These were all wildflowers I have seen this year. The one flower we had not seen was tiger lily. I usually have seen plenty by  early July. I had seen them on this trail before so we had some hope we would see them. At .80 miles we had the first of 7 creek crossings each way. This is the biggest one and there were some logs and rocks that had us across with dry feet. A tree fell on the trail right after the crossing. We found a boot path around it when it looked to be a mess to get over. Not long after the crossing Gary noticed our first tiger lily sighting of the year. There were only three flowers and we saw no more on the route but we did see tiger lilies.

The next creek crossing was not deep but very brushy along the shore. We had to use poles and hug the brush but made it across with dry feet again. The last 5 crossings were pretty easy rock hops. The third crossing had some yellow monkey flowers and white bog orchids. I don't see the bog orchids very often. We also saw forget-me-nots and the only larkspur of the day. The cool temperature at the start turned into comfortable hiking up the creek. Two more crossings and we were on the left side of the creek on open slopes in bright sunshine. It warmed up very fast. The next section had more loose rocks than I recalled. It was harder coming down than going up. We saw a whole lot of stonecrop on this slope. Both the rubbery plants and many covered with their bright yellow flowers. It was a really great display. We also saw vanilla leaf and desert parsley. We climbed to a ridge top and found ourselves on the left side of this ridge. We had more open slopes and the biggest display of Columbia Lewisia that I have ever seen. The whole hillside was blooming Columbia Lewisia. I rarely see small patches of it but have never seen an entire hillside blooming. We also now had our first look at the summit of Earl Peak up the creek drainage.

A little forest walking led to the sixth creek  crossing. This one had a small waterfall and some blooming shooting stars. That was a good sign as there are more shooting stars farther up the slope. A series of switchbacks brought us higher. Along the way we saw the first arrowleaf balsamroot of the day. Most was past prime but some was looking good. We took a short bread at about 5700'. We still had 1300' to go. Mt. Rainier was now coming partly into view. It was still very clear. We passed the junction with the trail to Bean Creek and the popular ridge route up Earl Peak. Just below the junction was a big patch of shooting stars. We traversed to the right crossing the last creek. This one comes from a spring near the ridge top of Earl which is the source of Standup Creek. It as getting toasty as we entered cool dark forest. The trail switchbacks up to the ridge top where the trail drops into the valley of Stafford Creek. We took a longer break at the ridge top. We arrived at the 6200' saddle at 11:21 am. The slightly rocky sections and all the wildflower and view photos slowed us down. We had hiked 3.8 miles in 3:16, We still had .73 miles with about 900' to go. From the saddle we could see McClellan Peak in the Stuart Range and Navaho Peak, two of the Three Brothers, Little Navaho, Miller, Jester, and Iron Bear Peaks. Navaho Pass was clearly visible.

After our break we now had the rocky ridge route up Earl in front of us. I have done this ridge many times over 40 years. It is not technical at all. Only the last bit up the summit block has any difficulty. It does provide great ridge top views. Nearly the entire ridge can be scramble on the ridge top. It is easier in places to drop down a little and then regain the ridge. We did some of each. Part way along the real summit comes into sight as does Mt. Stuart. It is early enough that many peaks still have snow on their south and east sides. They look much better than later with they are just rock. We found many varieties of wildflowers on the ridge. A purple one grows in gaps in the rocks. Some western anemone was also blooming. As we came off the rocky ridge onto the wider flat ridge we could see white shirts on the summit. Now we just had the last scramble to the top. We angled around to the left. The rock was sticky but with some loose gravel too. It proved easier than it looked and at 12:30 pm we reached the 7036' summit. There was one guy on top. On our 2020 visit the summit was full of people with hikers coming and going continuously. This day we shared the top with just one other person. He was also from Seattle and came up the Bean Creek Route.

The views were terrific. We had very little haze. We could see Mt. Adams, the Goat Rocks, Mt. Rainier, all the peaks north of Snoqualmie Pass and big Mt. Stuart up close and personal. After all these years I can recognize most of the peaks. They had enough snow to really stand out. Mts. Daniel and Hinman were especially white. We ate, drank, and just enjoyed all the views. One year earlier, we scrambled Iron, Bean, and Devil's Head on an overnight trip. They were all close by and easily seen. We still had a long ways to go and 4000' of elevation to loose plus an two hour drive home. I would like to have spent hours on the summit. Instead we spent 1:26 on top. At 1:56 pm we headed down. The other guy left ahead of us so we did have some solitude on top. He was the only person we saw up close on way up. We did see the white shirts on top but they were still far away.

Going down off trail is harder as you age. We were slow on the scramble and a bit faster on the ridge walk. We made it back to the saddle at 2:55 pm. There was a guy camping at the saddle. He came up the Stafford Creek Trail. He was the second and last person we saw all day. The loose rocky section were a pain going down. The dirt trail sections were pretty good. Just below the slope of Columbia Lewisia Gary noticed a big blooming scarlet gilia right next to the trail. Neither of us could image we did not see it on the way up. Check off one more favorite flower seen. As usual, the last mile seemed to go on forever. We reached the car at 5:58 pm. It was not surprising that we were still the only car in the lot. We stopped for milk shakes in Cle Elum and had light traffic going home. Holiday campers were more plentiful heading east.

I mentioned earlier that this is a favorite trip of mine. The lack of people, long ridge walk and great summit make for a great day. We managed to time it so most wildflowers were near their peak. It is not a top flower hike but it can be very nice with good timing. We nailed it.

Penstemon At Start
Queen's Cup
Tiger Lily
Bog Orchid
Yellow Monkey Flower
Stonecrop Starts Flowering
More Flowers
All Stonecrop Flowers
Open Rocky Trail
Columbia Lewisia
First Summit Sighting
Gary On Trail
6th Creek Crossing
Shooting Stars
Arrowleaf Balsamroot
Very Red Indian Paintbrush
Mt. Rainier
McClellan Peak
Little Navaho & 3 Brothers
On The Summit Ridge
The Stuart Range
Mt. Stuart In Sight
Colorful Wildflower
Going Around Rocks
Western Anemone
Navaho & 3 Brothers
Summit Is Just Above
Mt. Stuart From Earl
Bean & Ingalls Peaks
Gary On Earl Peak
Route Up Navaho Peak
Cascade Crest Peak
Hibox-3 Queens-Iron Pk
Ingalls Peaks
Mt. Adams
Bean Creek Basin
Dutch Miller Gap Peaks
Gary Leaving Summit
Traversing Below Ridge
Shooting Star II
Gary At Work
Colorful Lupine
Some Penstemon
Twin Lupines
More Columbia Lewisia
Scarlet Gilia
Another Creek Crossing
Gary Near Trailhead
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2024