The Year In Review

The year 2004 turned out to be a great hiking year. I traveled 690 miles gaining 204,600'. The mileage total was 118 less than 2003 as I took a little more time away from the mountains. Surprisingly, I actually gained 1300 more feet of elevation with significantly less miles. I averaged exactly 10.0 miles and 2965' gained per each of the 69 days I hiked. The average elevation gain was far above my previous best. I only managed two backpacking trips but they were both outstanding. The 12,276' summit of Mt. Adams is the highest elevation I have reached. I aim for 10 new trips each year and this year I had 13. I also finally made it out of Washington State as I hiked up Bald Mountain, near Sun Valley, Idaho. The weather was generally good with many sunny days in the mountains. Now it's on to a month by month recap.

The year began with a long Mountaineer snowshoe trip up Revolution Peak . There was snow from the parking lot on and we did well to make it 14 miles round trip to the top of Point 5124. I also hiked on Cougar and Tiger Mountains and cross country skied up to Windy Pass. For the final trip of the month I was joined by Suzanne, Bernadette, and Rick for a snowshoe trip up into  Commonwealth Basin . There was plenty of snow making for a fun day. Getting across the creek was interesting as the drop was near ten feet several times.

I skied up Amabalis Mountain on a gray snowy day. The weather kept the crowds away. I saw only a few people until much of the way down. On February 11th I took off for an afternoon midweek hike up to Poo Poo Point on Tiger Mountain. It was 63 degree short sleeve weather. I had a long trip to the summit of Mt. Teneriffe via the road route. Snowshoes from below the Mt. Si turn off to the summit. Beautiful views from the top. I tried out my lightweight crampons for the first time on the descent. They made it much easier. The month ended with a repeat of a fun ski trip from several years ago. I joined Gary, Mark, and Brian for the Pipe Creek Loop . We started and ended near Blewett (Swauk)  Pass. The avalanche danger was not too high but enough to stop an attempt to reach Point 5969 again. We expected ice but had great snow conditions.

I repeated the Tiger 1-2 Loop for the first time since just after the huge wind storm of last November. The war zone had been completely cleared of the many dozens (hundreds?) of downed trees. On March 10th I spotted the first Skunk Cabbage of the year on Cougar Mountain. Three days later was the last ski trip of the year. Gary and I drove over Stevens Pass and skied up the Smithbrook Road. We skied a ways off the road and switched to snowshoes. From there it was a nice climb to the top of Mt. MaCausland . Spectacular views were seen in all directions. It was my first time up Smithbrook. March 21st brought a near 70 degree day and the first trillium of the year on Tiger Mountain. It was even better for the last trip of the month as it reached 81 degrees, again on Tiger.

The weather continued to be outstanding and the snow was melting rapidly. I began the month with a hike/snowshoe to the ridge between Pratt and Granite Mountains . Nice views from the ridge. The next day Gary and I attempted to find an old route on Mt. Si we had done a decade earlier. The beginning had been obliterated and we ended up with a real bushwhack at first. We reached the top but it was a slow trip. I first hiked up South Bessemer in February 2002. I was in the clouds with no views. It was time to head back to South Bessemer on a sunny day. Snowshoes were needed for the last few miles and the views were terrific. I hiked up West Rattlesnake Mountain and headed over to the East Peak. That was the last bit of the Rattlesnake Mountain trail I had not been on. I ended the month by heading east to Umtanum Ridge . I have enjoyed the flower show on the ridge a number of times. I had not timed it to see the blooming cactus. Thanks to Internet trip reports I hit it right on the nose this time. I managed to take several hundred digital photos that day.

This was a lousy hiking month as I only manage to get out 3 times. At least they were all good trips. This year Suzanne came along for my annual spring snow scramble of Iron Peak . We were able to hike beyond Bean Creek before reaching snow. The last 600 vertical feet required snowshoes. It was mostly sunny and the views were terrific. The snow was perfect for a very fast glissade down from the top. A few weeks later I did a solo trip up Mt. Defiance . The new Mason Lake trail was in fine shape. From Mason on I had snow except for some of the open south side of the mountain. Gary joined me for the final trip of the month, a scramble of Navaho Peak . It drizzled early and was blowing ice pellets at the top. We met Shayna on the climb from Navaho Pass. Not much of a view but a good workout.

This month was much better as I got out 9 times. It began with an after work traverse of Rattlesnake Mountain . Gary and David had friends doing the East Summit and they shuttled us back to our cars. Next was a scramble of Esmerelda Peak . Climbing on snow was much easier than the scree and talus I had done before. It was overcast on top with no views but I did not see a single person the whole day. I scrambled  FortunePeak on a June day that felt like mid winter. The wind was howling at Ingalls Pass. Lightweight crampons proved very useful. Once again I had no view from inside a cloud on the summit. I returned to hike the Miller Peak Loop for the first time in 9 years. The wildflowers were still near their peak. June 19th was the official dedication of the Ira Spring Mason Lake Trail. Suzanne, Joe, and I went up Mt. Defiance . We came down the old trail to avoid the crowds. I had climbed Thomas Mountain as a winter snowshoe last year. I decided to see what it looked like in the sun. I added Mt. Baldy as well. The wildflowers were outstanding.

The first trip of the month turned out to be unexpectedly great. Gary and I looked for a trail neither of us had been on. We ended up selecting Blackjack Ridge . The trail is seldom visited and steep. It is covered in soft duff and was not difficult, even with over 3300' gained over the first 3 miles. The flowers were tremendous. We followed the ridge to Bootjack Mountain and then decided to head for Highchair Mountain as well. We attempted to find the trail in the valley coming back and had a long bushwhack. Gary, David, I did a short but very steep after work hike up Pete's Putrid Peak. It was my first time up. We returned just at dark. I joined a Mountaineer scramble of Three Brothers and we added Navaho on the way out. At 6000' gained it was the most I did in one day. I returned to Gem Lake for the first time in 20 years and added Wright Mountain , just above the lake. The month ended with a 2 day backpack that had long been on my list. Gary and I had perfect weather for a climb of Mt. Adams . We were able to spend a full hour on the summit.

I finally made it up Stillaguamish Peak . It had been a scramble I long meant to summit. It turned out to be a very hot day and I was seriously dehydrated coming down. The upper meadows and the summit scramble were lots of fun. I will go back soon. Suzanne and Rick joined me for an old favorite. We hiked the Tired Creek - Waptus Pass Loop counter clockwise. Views from the old lookout site were excellent. Next I made my first trip to Summerland and Panhandle Gap on Mt. Rainier. The flowers were gone but it was a fun hike. The last hike of the month was a loop I had long wanted to do. I had hiked all of the route but not in one day. Suzanne, Joe, and John joined me as we did a Talapus - Mason Lake Loop . We visited four lakes and came down the new Mason Lake Trail.

The month began with a fantastic 4 day backpacking trip. Gary, Mark, and I hiked a 34 mile loop through the Goat Rocks . We scrambled 3 summits, saw more than 50 goats, and began with an interesting bushwhack to create the loop. Late in the month Gary and I returned to Mt. David . We hiked the trail to the summit on a beautiful clear day. Unlike my other two visits, there were great fall colors. To make the trip more interesting, we went cross country part of the way back. At the end of the month I visited my brother at his new home in Sun Valley. This gave me an opportunity to hike up Bald Mountain , the main ski area mountain. There was quite a view from over 9000' on top. I plan to take advantage of a base at Sun Valley to do more hiking in Idaho.

My annual larch hike was to Lake Ann , up the Esmerelda Basin Trail. Unlike the Ingalls Pass Trail nearby, I saw nobody at the lake all day. The larch were near their peak. This is a very easy to reach destination to view larch trees. Suzanne and I hiked the Lime Kiln Trail the day after it was dedicated. It is a nice addition to close in easy trails. After that we headed up the Mountain Loop and hiked to Heather Lake. The trail was much different that on my previous visit. Much has been rebuilt. Near the end of the month I did a mid week hike up Granite Mountain . Much to my surprise I ended up in shorts and short sleeves not long into the hike. This was the last warm hike of the year. The month ended with a hike of Mt. Dickerman . Suzanne and I were very glad to see snow for the upper part of the route.

I joined a Mountaineer hike up
Earl Peak . We followed the ridge from Beverly Creek all the way to the summit. There was enough snow to make it seem like winter but not enough to slow us down. We descended via Bean Creek Basin. Gary and I set out to hike up Polallie Ridge from Salmon La Sac. We were on snow much of the day but stayed on the summer trail. We did not bother to add up the ups and downs and the gain of 5300' was much more than we planned on.

One final Mountaineer scramble was an attempt on Little Navaho Peak . We went off trail the whole way. There was enough snow to make the ridge route very slick. We finally were stopped by a gendarme and a lack of time. Suzanne and I did a one way traverse of the Rattlesnake Mountain Trail from east to west. The wind was extremely strong. Fortunately no branches fell on or near us. I did a loop of the Chirico Trail and Tigers 1-2-3 . It was a beautiful sunny day and I saw few people other than on Tiger 3 and Poo Poo Point coming down. Parasailors were out in droves. After early snow the last few months of the year were warm with little snow. On December 30th Suzanne and I were finally able use snowshoes. We hiked up the Kendall Lakes Road on good snow and little visibility. As usual, I ended the year with a hike up West Tiger 3. I was the second car in the lot but there were about 100 when I came down. All in all, it was a terrific year of hiking.

My Top 10 Trips Of 2004
10. Lake Ann Larch
09. Point 5124 Near Revolution Peak
08. Lake Valhalla - Mt. McCausland
07. Three Brothers - Navaho Peak
06. Mt. David
05. Umtanum Ridge
04. Stillaguamish Peak
03. Blackjack Ridge
02. Mt. Adams
01. Goat Rocks Loop

All Trips - 2004