Jeff and I started off our trip this past weekend. We departed from Ellensburg High School around 11:30 on Friday after Jeff finished teaching for the week. Powered by Vinman's pastries, we started the long ride over Blewett Pass, through Leavenworth and up Icicle Creek to the Eightmile Trailhead. My legs were thoroughly burnt after climbing up NF 7601.
We arrived at the trailhead around 7:30. We had Pad Thai for dinner which was a good test of my food prep skills. We were both happy with this one, but agreed that insulated re-hydration bags would be quite nice. It was quite nice to be all alone at one of the busier trailheads in the state.
After an oatmeal breakfast and stashing our bikes in the trees, we started hiking around 7 Saturday morning. We took the direct route up Cashmere Mountain. Manzanita and Oregon Grape provided some resistance to quick travel. Plenty of snow-melt for drinking. We decided filtration was not necessary in most spots.
We reached consistent snow-pack at around 5,800 ft - higher than I expected. Snow conditions ranged from slush to punch crust to supportable crust around 7,000 ft. This would get worse later in the day. Some fun easy snow and scrambling got us to the summit. Light snow flurries and clouds blocked the would be spectacular views.
We descended the same route back to the Eightmile trailhead for lunch. Then packed our overnight gear and headed up the Colchuck Lake trail. We parted ways with the trail right before the footbridge. From here we walked through increasingly unsupportive snow up the valley north of Colchuck Balanced Rock, eventually reaching the NW ridge of Cannon Mountain.
Some fun ridge scrambling got us to the Summit of Cannon around 6 in the evening.
From here we descended to the Druids Plateau, then to a small lake at 7,500 ft in the upper valley between Cannon and Enchantment. No running water, but a nice sheltered spot among the Larches.
The Druids Plateau just beneath Cannon Mountain
We figured out the hard way that if you leave a stove attached to the fuel canister without properly closing the valve, your fuel will be no more. We had couscous and crunchy salmon for dinner with cold hot coco for desert.
Sunday morning we awoke to clear skies and firm snow. Just what we were hoping for! No breakfast or water so we packed up and were moving by 6. First, an easy snow walk and scramble to the top of Enchantment peak. Summit at 7. In the morning light, the views were stunning.
Looking at Cashmere from Enchantment peak, the NW ridge of Cannon in the foreground.
Little Annapurna with Rainier just peaking out behind.
We descended to Prusik Pass, then down across perfection lake, and up towards McClellan Peak. Some fun easy class 3 scrambling brought us to the Summit.
Me on the summit, finishing off our peanut butter M&Ms
View of our tracks coming up the snow with Little Annapurna on the center left, and Dragontail on the center right.
Back down to Perfection Lake. We picked up our packs and headed up the snow to Little Annapurna. The snow was starting to soften and our first post-holing of the day was had. We also started seeing people here: two skiers climbing up a sub part of Little A.
Prusik Peak and the Temple
Jeff walking up Little Annapurna, Enchantment Peak top left.
Me and Jeff on the summit of Little Annapurna
Stuart from the top of Little A
From here, we traversed the ridge towards Dragontail. Snow was getting soft but fairly manageable. Ran into some more skiers and climbers as we climbed up the last bit to Dragontail. The real post holing began here. After Dragontail we traversed west, then up some steep snow to the col next to Pandora's Box. I got my favorite photo of the trip here. Jeff putting in the steps up to the col. Not somewhere you want to fall.
Some fun glissading later and we were at Banshee Pass, atop Colchuck Glacier. A slog up an already set boot pack got us to the top of Colchuck. The previous tracks were nice, but we still post-holed waist deep almost every other step. Jeff's knees were not so happy here.
A fun and fast glissade brought us down to Colchuck Lake in no time.
The hike back to the bikes seemed way longer than it was. Back at the bikes we loaded everything up and started coasting down to Leavenworth. We re-fueled at Heidleburger and started the long bike back to Ellensburg. We made it partway to Blewett Pass before pulling of on the old highway and sleeping for a bit. A 5 A.M. start got us back to Ellensburg around 8:30 Monday morning. Jeff headed straight to school to teach, and I headed home for Lasagna and rest.
What a start to the project! 182 miles, 27,600 ft elevation gain, and 7 peaks in 72 hours. Time to rest up and prep for the next trips. Our next tentative outing will be May 20-21. We will attempt Stuart, Sherpa, and Argonaut, weather and conditions permitting.
Also, I've never written a blog before so this is me winging it. Let me know how to improve. More/less route details, photos, videos, etc. Thanks!