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Silver Peak via Annette Lake
posted by John : June 17, 2010

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Humpback running high

Silver Peak is trivial in the summer. Well, maybe not trivial, but the sort of trip you do with TNAB and combine it with a couple of other peaks to make it worthwhile. And it's almost summer, so this should have been pretty easy, too, right?

Except TNAB, pushing the envelope this year, decided we ought to tackle Silver from the west, climbing from Annette Lake and Humbpack Creek, rather than the traditional route starting at Windy Pass. TNAB had tried this once before, but in February. At least this time we could drive to the parking lot.

I was ready early for once and at 5:30 I left the parking lot by myself with only tunes to keep me company. I knew there were others ahead and I hoped to catch them before the off-trail portion of the trip began. Not that it was a hard route to follow. Go almost to the lake. Turn left. Go up. When you get to the ridge follow it to the summit. Still, I'd rather hike with people. I passed one other TNAB hiker on the trail and caught the main group at the turnoff after only an hour.

With a critical mass we turned into the brush and started up the hill. Pretty close to the trail we spotted a doe watching us carefully. As we got closer she'd inch away, but wouldn't take off. Strange, especially with the dogs. Of course, it probably helped the dogs had no interest in her. Good dogs.

When we left the brush we were confronted with a partially snow-covered talus/scree slope that disappeared into the clouds. The hope had been for more snow making for a straightforward, kick-stepped climb and a wicked fast glissading descent, but instead we'd get to pick our way through rotten snow and loose rocks.

With little to be seen thanks to the clouds/fog/mist it was easy to put my head down and start kicking up. When we left most of the snow behind Scott decided he should wait for Josie to see if she was keen on the rocks. Don was still above me so I kept going. When he said he wasn't going for the summit I slowed, not wanting to be the only one up there. Luckily, several others showed they were going to the top so I continued.

At the ridge we found not the rounded, easy walk up that you get from the south, but a broken tangle of stunted trees and rock blocks. We stayed on the west side of the ridge and followed what might be a trail if it weren't covered in snow. After 2.5 hours of climbing I topped out to find Larry was already on the summit, waiting patiently as always.

There were no views.

On the upside there were no bugs, either.

We took one picture and headed down. Only Steve and I had axes so we glissaded as much as we could, entraining loose snow that oozed down the slope when we stood up. It was kind of like lava without the red and heat and all the stuff that makes lava lava. Back on the rocks we pushed down until the brush, then bashed our way through choosing the easiest path. Eventually, we were right back where we had seen the deer and I had to stop abruptly.

A tiny (TINY in all caps meaning really small, strangely enough) fawn was curled up in the duff. Later I'd read that fawns use the freeze-and-maybe-they-won't-see-me technique until they're about a week old and then they use the screw-this-I'm-outa-here technique afterward. Clearly, the doe must have been trying to draw us away from the doe or stay safe while trying to keep an eye on her baby. Steve and I shot some pictures and then left little Bambi to its fate. With luck, the doe we'd seen earlier would be back to care for it. Without luck, yeah...

At the trail we found almost everybody that had turned back short of the summit. They'd mostly gone to play at the lake and their timing matched ours for the long, seemingly never ending slog back to the car. At least it was all downhill, though at times a little variation might have been nice.

Total distance was 9.2 miles and about 3,700 feet.

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