The plan was to climb Mt. Baker this weekend, but oh, no. The weather looked foul and we opted to reschedule for later in the summer.
But Amy was already in Chelan with the kids and dogs. In a purely selfish move I started looking for someone to drive me over. Oh, and if they wanted to go for a hike while we were over there that'd be ok, too. Tom and Colleen were both open Saturday so I won!
We got a late start from North Bend at 7am, but made it to Chelan by 9am. Drop gear, pick up dog and truck, start the caravan to the trailhead. Only an hour away. Er... make that an hour, ten with a stop for gas. No problems. On trail by 11:30. Well, 11:45. The road was a little long. And there was that deer that wouldn't get out of the way. And the marmot with the death wish. And my continual memory problems resulting in me almost killing Uncle Boppi's manual transmission truck over and over and over...
At the trailhead we had a bit of sun. And then some rain to go with the sun. (Note, it didn't replace the sun, just accompanied it.) Dogs watered were off for the quick and easy four mile, 2,000 foot gain to Crater Lake. An hour and a half, perhaps. Except once we got into the snow the trail kind of... um... disappeared. Or at least it appeared to. Perhaps it was the leader. That guy should seriously not be allowed to navigate. At least Tom and Colleen were cool as we wandered around and eventually found a big open talus field with what appeared to be a cairn but was, in reality, two rocks randomly stacked on one another.
So we lost some elevation and fought through avalanche debris to get back into the creek valley. Hey look! Tracks! Just like the ones we abandoned so long ago. Uh...
The tracks were remarkably good at following the summer trail even though it was under many feet of snow. So we followed them, until they went the wrong way. We knew better. (Wait, didn't we just do this?) Luckily, all we did was cut a switchback after which we resolved to stick with the tracks. But they only went to the lake.
Not that the lake wasn't dreamy and all that, but it was just a waypoint on the way to the peaks of Raven Ridge. Those peaks were still some 1,800 feet above us. The two highest points are called Corax and Libby Peaks. Corax sure looks higher (8,572 feet), but Libby is marked on the map as being higher (8,580). If we tagged both we'd check off #48 on the list of top 100 peaks in Washington. That would mean I'd completed... uh... four of the top 100. I better get cracking.
Anyway, the tracks didn't go beyond the lake so we picked a general direction and headed up. The snow in the woods was firm and icy. In the sun it was sloppy and postholy. Where there was no snow there was talus the likes of which terrifies dogs and men alike. So we opted for the snow where we could and when it ran out we hopped the rocks.
Mazzy is a freaking goat of sorts and had little problems. Jasper growled at the rocks and they yielded their secret route. Treen was a little less experienced and timid. She had little problem going up to Corax as it was pretty straightforward. We wound up anchoring the dogs below the summit and climbing up. I did an interesting friction move (I've been reading about climbing, can you tell?) while the others took the saner route through the tunnel.
Tunnel? Yeah, a tunnel. Pretty cool, too.
Huge views from the summit and a register to sign. We could even see our route to Libby at the other end of the ridge. It seemed a really long way away, but of course we had to tag it lest it wind up being the actual summit of Raven Ridge. Technicalities, you know.
Onward and well, not upward. Especially if we were already on the true summit. We traversed across the rocks with intermittent snow full of holes. Treen had more and more difficulties through this section and was clearly not keen on the rocks. Not like Tokul, who would have refused, but definitely preferring the snow.
Below Libby we again tied the dogs, well, not Jasper, but he's hardly a dog. The snow slope was steep with a lousy runout so we busted out axes for the last climb. Around the side, past the swarms of ladybugs, and to the summit.
(Did he just say "swarms of ladybugs?")
Yup. Freakish amounts of ladybugs in the crevices of the rocks. Hundreds in different pockets. It was truly spooky. In fact, it was the scene of one of Alfred Hitchcock's early works. You probably haven't heard of it. Don't bother searching for it. Google's too mainstream to return a result to it.
From Libby we descended toward the saddle above Crater Lake that looked to hold an awesome glissade. And a few holes. Maybe more than a few. I fell in a hole. Colleen laughed. Then she fell in a hole. I mentioned that Karma is a <falls in hole> Apparently, Karma doesn't like to be called names. Lesson learned.
The glissade dropped us 400 feet in about 30 seconds. A few more short runs took us into the basin proper and back into the woods. The open terrain let us wander wherever. I chose a route that included a variety of icy patches and postholes designed to de-man me. Luckily, I was de-manned long ago so I won! (I think.)
The views from the lake were gorgeous with later afternoon sun lighting the ridge opposite Raven Ridge, but we had to depart without much lingering. We followed the tracks all the way down and had none of the challenges we did on the way up. Yeah, that's another lesson learned. Again.
We got back to the trailhead a little after 9pm. Tom and Colleen were staying the night, but I packed up for a comfy bed in Chelan. Plus, if I'd stayed I'd just have collapsed in a tent with little entertainment. It took me about an hour to get back to Chelan, 15 minutes to get a shower, and seven hours to sleep off the day's exertion. Or at least recharge a tiny bit for the next day's adventure.
Total distance was about 10 miles and 4,200 feet of gain.