Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
December 6, 2008
Andrew "Captain" Marvel and I took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and scrambled up Lundin Peak Saturday. Earlier this year in January we made a ski tour in this area and I got a little mixed up, so it was good to get reaquainted with the various trails before the snow arrives.I brought my favorite local guide book, Climbing Washington's Mountains just be sure we stayed on the right trail.
We parked at the Snoqualmie Pass Ski area parking lot and walked across the road and under the overpass to the trailhead. Hey with all the bailouts going on, how about bailing out our National Forests by adequtely funding their budgets. Maybe then we can get rid of the poorly thought out (double tax) Trail Pass Fee!
The forest was very different from when we were here in January. There were a few patches of snow here and there in the forest, but it was mostly green and lush with ferns and bunchberries. I commented to Andrew how amazing it was to see this kind of growth in December. We followed the Pacific Crest Trail for a few hundred feet until we came to the turnoff for the Commonwealth Basin shortcut. Someone had been maintaining the "Abandoned Trail" because it had obviously been brushed recently. Thank you trail workers!
Soon we came to the river crossing and were able to step across some strategically placed rocks without even getting wet. When I was here in July with my nephew, Blake, there was 4 feet of snow here and no trail to be found. Now with no snow it was clear where the trails diverged to head left up to Cave Ridge and Guye Peak, and right up to Red Mountain and Lundin Peak via the Commonwealth Basin trail.
We made good time with our light packs and quickly were at the switchbacks leading up to the meadow and small lake (pond) at the base of Red and Lundin. Andrew startled a grouse and it in turn gave us a start. Their camoflauge allows them to stay hidden until you are almost upon them then they fly off in sudden flurry of feathers and wings.
At the lake the trail was covered with a foot or so of snow. One bootpack in the snow branched off left towards the lake shore while the right branch veered off towards Red Mountain. We had been doing very well with chosing the correct trails up to this point, but I decided to take the left trail thinking it would make it's way up to the saddle between Lundin and Red. Instead we had to scramble up a scree field for a few hundred yards until we hit the real trail which traversed across the lower flanks of Red Mountain.
We gained elevation quickly going straight up the scree field and soon had great views of Mt Rainier, Mt Adams, Mt Stuart and the rest of the southern and eastern Cascade Range. When we left Seattle it was just getting light and we could see clear skies to the south but a large mass to the north. Once at the saddle we could see that weather front still making it's way towards us. It wouldn't reach us until the evening, so we enjoyed the beautiful sunshine! Another party of two hiked by as we were taking a lunch break at the saddle. Andrew had brough a thermos full of hot chocolate which was perfect since we were now on the cooler exposed ridge.
With full stomachs and renewed energy we continued up the bootpack trail through the snow to the summit of the first sub peak of Lundin. The other two men had stopped here as they weren't comfortable with the exposed scramble down to the notch. As it turned out we weren't comfortable with the exposure either and made this our highpoint also. The commanding view and clear line of site allowed my cell phone to still have reception and I was suprised to hear the familiar ring. My brother Mark had called to talk about Christmas plans. Taking advantage of the opportunity to say "guess where I am" we snapped a picture with our phone and sent it to him with a caption of "wish you were here". Fun!
Enjoying the view we drank the last of the hot chocolate saying goodbye to fall. The incoming storm was predicted to bring colder temperatures and heavy snows. (and hopefully it will bring our ski season!) Thanks, Cap'n for a fun day in the mountains!