The Year In Review

This year's review should be sub titled "An Embarrassment Of Riches". I believe that this was the very best year I have had on the trail. I finished 240 miles short of my all time high but managed to set a new elevation gained record. With 243,100' gained I average over 20,000' per month for the first time. I had 16 new trips, many of them in the North Cascades. I spent 84 days on the trail and my 831 miles were my fourth highest ever. This was an especially good year for backpacking. Backpacking season went from April to October. It was nice to explore out of state as I had a great three day trip through the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. The winter was normal and spring snow scrambles were excellent. The summer weather was as good as I can ever remember. Sunny days week after week and month after month. Even the bugs were not very bad. Spirng flowers were good, fall colors were outstanding, and the larch season was terrific. In fact, I slipped in two larch backpacking trips. I would be happy if 2007 can came close to 2006. Now on to the month by month review.

The year began with an attempt on Pratt Mountain . Rick joined the usual crew of Suzanne, Bob, and Kolleen. We made it high on the final ridge but poor snow and exposed rock combined with no views led us to turn back. Next I joined Mark and Gary for a snowshoe trip to Kendall Lakes . The snow was fresh and deep. Big crowds on the way down. We made a first attempt on Humpback Mountain . Some route finding problems and a ton of deep soft snow turned us around before the top. The month ended with another deep snow slog up Dirty Harry's Peak . It had been 20 years since my only other hike up. Waist deep snow did not stop us this time as we summited.

We needed to get home before the Seahawks played in the Super Bowl so chose an easy snowshoe trip to Granite Lakes . Suzanne, Joe, Julie, and John came along on a snowshoe trip to Mt. Margaret . We made it to the false summit but snow conditions and time kept us from the real summit. A beautiful day in the mountains. The best winter trip was Welcome Pass . Only my second snowshoe trip on the north side of Mt. Baker. Steep and short it took us to some amazing ridge top roaming. Fantastic views of the North Cascade peaks. The last trip of the month was my first time on the Nordic Pass Trail . Gary and Mark maintain this ski/snowshoe trail located between the Snoqualmie Pass ski areas. On this work party we replaced a number of blue diamonds.

Suzanne and I snowshoed the Nordic Pass Trail then on to just below the summit of Mt. Catherine . Bad snow kept us from summiting. Next was a long 14 mile trip to the summit of Mt. Teneriffe . Warm day with lots of snow on top. Gary joined Bob, Kolleen, and I for a trip up Mt. McCausland . It was my second time up. Blue sky and sun all day.

Guye Peak was a short but very wintery day. Back on dirt for a change Gary and I looped around Wallace Lake and Falls. Suzanne and I returned to Humpback Mountain and this time we summited. Very hard snow at the top and great views. The month ended with a terrific backpacking trip up Earl Peak . We camped at 6200' on the shoulder. Violent winds all night then a calm sunny morning for our summit.

Bernadette joined SB&K for a winter like snowshoe up Mt. Defiance . Crampons near the top and no views. Spring officially began with my annual snow scramble of Iron Peak . Suzanne and Bernadette came along. Great glissading off the summit. Late May was time for a flower hike. Bernadette and I hiked up Umtanum Ridge . In the clouds much of the day but flowers were spectacular. The month ended with a snow scramble of Fortune Peak . Nice day with great views.

First off was a 4000' hike up to the lookout site on Dirty Face Peak . Next Gary and I hiked up Goat Island Mountain . Clouds and drizzle on top but a fun glissade coming down. Lots of snow still. The last notable trip was up Noble Knob via Deep Creek. We threw in Mutton Mountain to get it up to 4300' of gain. Nice sunny day. One of many more to come through October.

The month began with my first ever trip on Tonga Ridge . We hiked to Fisher Lake on snow then back and up Mt. Sawyer. Beautiful day and not crowded. The worst bug trip of the year by far was Mt. Baldy . A nice summit but we were eaten alive. Another first time trip was a Mountaineer scramble of Fish Eagle Peak . Very hot day. Fun off trail scramble to the summit. Very nice views. Next came a terrific weekend. SB&K joined me for a North Cascades car camp weekend. Saturday we hiked up to Hannegan Peak . Some clouds but still nice views. Sunday we went up Yellow Aster Butte . The trail was mostly snow free but lots of snow in the basin. We followed the ridge to the true summit. Great weather and great views. On by far the hottest day of the year we hiked 5400' up Sourdough Mountain . Humidity was off the charts at 5:30 AM. Upper 90s on a south slope. With the long days of summer I was able to hike to Tuscohatchie Lake after work. 11 miles and a day of work. Lastly, Suzanne and I took the short cut to Lake Lillian and Rampart Lakes . I had five first time hikes this month alone.

Gary and I finally backpacked to Park Creek Pass . We had planned to go there for years. 38 miles and 10,000' of gain in 3 long days. Beautiful country and almost no people. Two nights alone below the pass. Great scramble up Point 6980. One big buck hung around our camp. Suzanne and I scrambled almost to the top of Hibox Mountain . First time and very steep route. Also a blazing hot day. Gary, Bob, and Kollen joined me for a memorable backpacking scramble of Snowking Mountain . Long steep approach, neat ridge walk, great camp site and wonderful scramble of the peak. A real highlight of the year. I'll return once I forget about the pain. After many years I returned to Snoqualmie Lake via Lake Dorothy and the "trail of a million steps". Hated the steps but loved the lakes.

Gary came along for his first scramble of Vesper Peak . Very few people on a sunny summery day. Met Mike McQuaide for a hike up Lookout Mountain . Very nice trail to the lookout. Mike wrote a very nice story about me and my website for the Seattle Times. Visited my brother in Sun Valley, Idaho. I planned a three day tour through the Sawtooth Mountains . It was even better than I had hoped. I crossed three 9300'+ passes and saw more lakes than people. More great sunny weather. I also hiked up Mt. Baldy, the main ski area at Sun Valley. Nice views from 9500'+. I returned to the Teanaway for an old favorite. I hike back up Iron Peak then looped over Bean Peak and out Bean Creek Basin. The month ended with a fantastic backpacking trip to Wing Lake at the peak of the larch trees. Incredible colors around the Maple Pass loop and even better at Wing Lake.

The month started with an amazing larch backpacking trip. Gary came along as we hiked the Carne Mountain High Route . Thousands of peaking larch trees. Cold nights and sunny days then snow the last night. A real highlight of the year. SB&K joined for a long close in loop of Melakwa and Pratt Lakes . More sun even in October. SB&K came for a repeat of an October favorite. Sunrise was closed in Mt. Rainier National Park so we came in from the north to Grand Park then dropped down and scrambled Skyscraper Mountain . We saw two backpackers but more goats. Long day but clear views of Rainier. At the end of the month I hiked up to Glacier Basin . It had been many years since I had been on this old favorite. Snow at the top of the steep part and a beautiful white coat covered the basin and peaks. The good weather was finally finished.

In a repeat of the prior year I hiked up Mt. Dickerman only to be turned back by waist and sometimes shoulder deep soft powder snow. We gained 2900' but did not come close to the top. The next week we were again turned back before the top. This time it was on Granite Mountain . We did not have ice axes or crampons and both would have been useful. Finally out on snowshoes again B&K came on a trip up to Kendall Peak Lakes . We broke trail in very deep snow from the road over to the lower and middle lakes. Few people until coming down.

Suzanne and I slogged through deep snow almost to Nordic Pass. The next day I returned with B&K and Carol for a try at Mt. Catherine . Earlier in the year Suzanne and I were turned back near the summit. This time we followed a lone ski track up the ridge and on to the summit. Surprisingly good views from this low mountain. We snowshoed around Commonweaslth Basin while it snowed. I skied up to Windy Pass. I did a long 16 mile road walk to the Grand Prospect on Rattlesnake Mountain. I snowshoed up Mt. Si via the Mt. Teneriffe Road . Has a great time on my first visit to Keechelus Ridge. Of course, I ended the year with a hike on Tiger Mountain.

My Top 10 Trips Of 2006
01. Sawtooth Mountains Traverse
02. Snowking Mountain
03. Carne High Route
04. Park Creek Pass
05. Wing Lake
06. Earl Peak
07. Welcome Pass
08. Yellow Aster Butte
09. Fish Eagle Peak
10. Mt. McCausland

All Trips - 2006