The Year In Review

     The year 2003 was outstanding. I exceeded nearly all my goals with 808 miles and 203,300 feet gained over 80 days. It included hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. The only thing missing was a bike/hike combo trip. I had 13 first time trips and another on snowshoes that was completely different than the summer trail hike I had done before. I met and hiked with Lyn, George, Suzanne, Emory, John, Vebjorn, Harold, another George, Bernadette, John, Julie, Dave, and more. I had three 3 day backpacking trips and all were terrific. We had one of the driest summers in many years leading to week after week of great  hiking conditions. Now for a month by month review of the year.

Winter came late with very little snow. What fell was usually hard and crusty. This led to much less cross country skiing and much more snowshoeing than usual. A Mountaineer trip up  Yellow Hill was lots of fun. It was my first chance to get out on snowy roads with my new  Subaru . I had done this trip during the summer and it was completely different on snow. It was led by Richard Burt and Lynn Graf whom I would do two other memorable snowshoe trips with. A hike to  Annette Lake was notable for it's cold (22 degrees) and the rock hard "snow" we trudged up. Snowshoes were never needed. A hike up  Boulder River was snowfree. The waterfalls had plenty of water.

I had four first time trips this month. First was close in  South Bessemer Mountain . It is up the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River. The route would be all the way on road in the summer. That day the upper several miles was on snow. I had no views at all and so I will be returning soon. Next was a Mountaineer trip to  Capitol Peak . This area near Olympia had been on my list for years. A snowshoe trip to  Mazama Ridge near Paradise was nearly perfect. An inversion had Seattle in a smoggy subfreezing haze for a week. At Paradise it was crystal clear and warmer than Seattle. Lyn and I had a great day in the bright sunshine. Paradise had 70 inches of snow. That is seriously low for February. The last two were great snowshoe trips with Richard and Lynn.  Arrowhead Mountain was completely off any route. A road and a big clearcut led to one ridge and a steep climb led to another. From there is was a superb ridge walk to the summit.  Thomas Mountain was memorable for the cold. I have done the trail to the top of Kachess Ridge several times in the summer. All the way to the top of Thomas on snow was much different. On the summit it was 15 degrees and we were sandblasted by blowing ice pellets. We reached the car just at dark.

The month started with one of my monumental screw ups. I headed up for a ski trip along the Iron Horse Trail . At the Hyak Sno-Park I realized I forgot my pack. I then took off for a 13 miles ski trip without food, water, or extra clothing. To top it off I stopped on the way back to hike up Cedar Butte. Who needs food or water for a 17 mile trip? The other interesting trip was  Umtanum Ridge . This is a great early season desert walk. It was March and there was no snow. Lyn came along for this one.

A return trip to  Mazama Ridge with Gary and Mark was much different. This time there was 6 feet more snow on the ground. I skied most of the way but brought snowshoes for the steepest descents. No sun and very cold that day. I returned to Goat Lake for the first time in about 5 years. I took the new trail both ways. Generally good but way overbuilt in places. It was late April when Gary and I did the first spring scramble of the year to Iron Peak . Less snow than the year before but we still started about 3 miles from the trailhead. All the way on snow. I finished the month by doing a trip that had been on my list for many years. Bill Stocker joined me for a short but fun hike up Mt. Ellinor . The conditions were fine for a fast glissade down the chute. My last sub freezing day for many months.

Gary, Mark, and I headed to the Teanaway for a snow scramble of Earl Peak . We had an easy hike into Bean Creek Basin. The snow on Earl was very icy. Crampons would have been useful. We kicked minimal steps in the ice and went straight up the slope. Gary did most of the kicking. Where we could get on rock it was an interesting and much safer scramble. We had a great glissade coming back down. Karen Sykes led a Mountaineer scramble up  Johnson Mt. . We had some snow but good conditions overall. Last year I saw a deer just below the summit. This year it happened again. We looped back down and I was able to take one of the few Teanaway trails I had not been on. I finished the month with another great Teanaway snow scramble. Lyn came along for this one.  Navaho Peak is not technically difficult but is 12 miles with 4300' gained. The last 2 1/2 miles were on snow. The view is great from over 7000'.

I escaped a 90 degree day in Seattle by going to Pratt Mt. and Rainbow Lake . The south slope of Pratt was mostly bare with some snow. The lake basin was all snow. I met George near the top and spent the day with him. I was the unofficial route finder on a Mountaineer hike of the Malcolm Mt. Loop . It was a hike and not a scramble so some of the hikers were in for a little more than they expected. The route was more overgrown than on my last trip. Even so, it was a fun hike.  Mt. Jupiter was another hike I had long planned on doing. Gary and I picked a brutally hot day. It was over 90 in Shelton. This is one long ridge hike. Much is in forest but the last part is in the open and was great.

I picked up the pace in July as I had my first 100 mile month in nine years. My first backpack of the year was to Waptus Lake and Dutch Miller Gap . The bugs were beyond unbearable. For some reason there were almost no other people. I tried out my Hennessy Hammock and had some rain the last night. All in all, it was a great quick 32 miles.  Kendall Peak and Ridge Lake was a great day of diverse hiking. A close in but seldom visited summit, the Katwalk, and a nice lake. I saved the best for last. Gary and I backpacked the Pilot Ridge - North Fork Sauk Loop . Bugs were awful but the scenery was spectacular. I have 45 photos posted and over 100 more not online. The view from White Mountain in the early morning was worth all the bugs.

I kept up the pace in August with 94 more miles. A return to Bald Mt. via the Walt Bailey trail was fun. Next I finally climbed up the last Teanaway Peak that had eluded me for years. DeRoux Peak is not an impressive summit but it has a nice off trail ridge walk to the top. I made a return trip to one of my favorite long distance summits. Three Brothers is a 17 mile trip with 5100' of gain. I was nearly alone the whole day. The ridge scramble is fun and the view from 7300' is great. The last backpack of the year was a phenomenal trip. Gary and I expected crowds at  Buck Creek Pass on the Labor Day weekend. Instead, we saw only a few people all weekend. The area around High Pass was one of the highlights of the year. We had great sunrises and sunsets with Glacier Peak nearby.

I returned to Alta Mountain which is one of my favorite summits. John, Suzanne, Vebjorn, and George came along. No blueberries this year along the way. I joined the group again for my first hike up Mt. Higgins . This was another I had planned to do years ago. The view from the top was very good. I joined Karen Sykes and the Mountaineers for a trip up Vesper Peak . I did it once before but the upper slabs were covered in snow and ice. This day they were bare. The slab scrambling was a blast. The final trip of September was one of the most memorable hikes I have ever done. Gary wanted to do the Goat Mountain near Mt. Baker. We hoped to see some fall colors. We were at the perfect place and the perfect time. The colors were like nothing I have ever seen before. We had the colors, a summit, a scramble, and a cross country leg. It was nearly an ideal day. For late September it was also very hot.

The month began by knocking off another long planned scramble. Mt. Pugh turned out to be every bit as fun as I hoped it would be. 11 miles with 5300' gained is a real workout. John, Emery, and Ed left after me and we met on the summit. The good weather continued into October. The weather changed a week later. Suzanne and I went to  Iron Bear Peak looking for larch. We found rain, sleet, wind, and some nearly golden larch. A week later I went back to  Ingalls Lake and found many golden larch. I have had great luck finding peaking larch at Ingalls. The last great trip of the month was to  Skyscraper Mountain . Sunrise was closed for the season and Gary and I were the only people in the whole northeast corner of the park. We took a cross country scramble route to cut the trip down to 15 miles. It was a sunny day with no clouds around the mountain.

Suzanne and I returned to Rainbow Lake . There was a little new snow at the lake and the last of the fall colors. The first real winter hike of the season was a group trip to  Annette Lake . It was nearly as cold as my early year trip but with lots of fresh snow. Bernadette and I had a great trip up Mt. Si via the Teneriffe Road. We saw only two people coming and going plus two more on the summit. Part bare road walk and part snowshoe trip made for a fun day.

A big storm came through and word was that some trees were knocked down. We hiked up Tiger 1 on the Preston Trail and I saw devastation like I have never seen before.  Hundreds of trees were down. It was far more of an adventure than I expected. I avoided downed trees by hiking up  West Rattlesnake Mountain via the road. It was 17 miles with no obstacles. A solo snowshoe trip up the  Kendall Lakes Road was fun. Clouds rolled in but the snow was great. Gary and I had a terrific ski trip on the Amabilis Mt. Loop . The snow was very good and we saw almost nobody all day. The four mile downhill was a blast. I finished the year with a rush covering 83 miles in the last 17 days of the month. As usual the year ended with my annual hike up W. Tiger 3 . It was a great year from beginning to end.

My Top 10 Trips of 2003
10. Mt. Jupiter
09. Three Brothers
08. Earl Peak
07. Thomas Mountain
06. Mt. Pugh
05. Arrowhead Mountain
04. Skyscraper Mountain
03. Pilot Ridge - N F Sauk Loop
02. Buck Creek Pass - High Pass
01. Goat Mountain

All Trips - 2003