Until this last weekend, I'd given up hope to ever find a challenging, non-crowded hike along the I-90 Corridor.
Hello, French Cabin.
Snow still prevails in the basin.
I took the Mountaineers scramble class last winter to better prepare for my Mt. Rainier climb. I was hoping to become more comfortable with the idea of using an ice-axe, but what I got out of it (navigation, first aid, route finding) ended up being so much more.
An Eagle Scout project was responsible for this great, stout bridge.
I've found that as I've gotten older and my friends have become busy with their families, joining the Mountaineers has been a great way to keep the outdoors on the to-do list. This weekend, I was able to hit the trail with Andy and Armando for a 10 mile scramble.
While most of the area is snow-free, the valley still had quite a bit - enough to require micro-spikes and route finding.
One of the great things about the Mountaineers is that there are always people willing to take you to places you have never heard of before. Andy, one of the instructors, posted this trip in the middle of the week and all it took was a few clicks of a mouse to join in (turns out that Andy is co-workers with a friend of mine - small world!)
Andy at the end of the trail. Time to scramble!
West Mountain is one of the many peaks in this area, located between Kachess Lake and Cle Elum. We did it as a 10 mile out and back, breaking off the trail to ascend West Mountain. The trail continues along the ridge line, but at 11 hours total time, West Mountain was quite enough.
The ascent to West Mountain is a short ways off trail, but steep with plenty of talus and ice. But worth every step.
While the road to the trailhead was entirely snow free, the valley itself still required navigation and route finding. The snow was pristine, so we were fairly confident that we were the first to hike this route in a long time (apologies to anyone after us who just decides to follow our tracks).
I found a way to get both ranges in one photo.
In the end, the payoff at the top of the 5,700 foot peak consisted unobstructed views of Mt. Rainier, Stuart Mountain, Adams, and the whole of the Cascade range. I'll definitely be back in the summer to complete the loop.