Dirty Face Peak

Dirty Face used to be a favorite early season hike with lots of elevation gain. Since it is well east of the Cascade crest with a southern exposure the trail melts out fairly early. The old lookout site sits at 5989' providing about 4000' of gain. It's not the real summit but it does have a trail all the way to the top. I was surprised to scan my trip log and see that it has been 15 years since I had been on the trail. Kolleen, Bob, and I met Suzanne and Rick in Skykomish then headed off for the trailhead.

We arrived at the trailhead next to the ranger station at Lake Wenatchee at about 9:15. There were already five other cars in the lot. Gary and I saw the Dirty Face fire from near the summit of Cloudy Peak last fall. Today we had a chance to see the damage. The trail gains the elevation over 4 3/4 miles while maintaining a steady but moderate grade. There was only one tree down across the trail. It was easy to crawl under.

The sun was out and I was soon down to shorts and short sleeves. The lower trail had some paintbrush, lupine, and solomons seal in bloom. There were also a number of what turned out to be Lyall's mariposa lilies. One creek was still running strong with a nice waterfall along the trail. In short order we reached the beginning of the burn. It came very close to the ranger station.

After a few long switchbacks the route reaches an old road. Turn left and continue higher. The road switchbacks to the right and reaches a campsite. Here it switchbacks to the left while the trail heads straight uphill. At this point a few mosquitos became a few more. Bug season has begun. By keeping on the go they were only a minor nuisance An earlier report mentioned snow began 400' below the summit. In reality it was much lower.

We had periodic views down to Lake Wenatchee and later out to Twin Lakes. Part of Nason Ridge was also in view. Snow was in patches at first. Footprints made it easy to stay on route. Higher up snow covered most of the trail. I would guess we hid snow about 700' below the top. On the positive side a light breeze and the snow kept skeeters to a minimum near the summit.

After about 2 1/2 hours we topped out joining several other groups. I was surprised when one person asked if I was Jim Kuresman. That's only the second time I have been recognized on the trail. Chris has been reading nwhikers for some time. I hope he jumps in and contributes in the future. Even with the crowd it was tempting to spend the whole afternoon on the summit.

Glacier Peak had a cloud near the top but almost everything else was in the open. Mt. Stuart to the south, Daniel as well. Rock Mountain still has plenty of snow near the summit. Mt. Maude stands above the ridge to the north. The real summit of Dirty Face is some distance away. We briefly considered dropping down then up then down then up yet again on the way to the summit. The consensus was to call it a day and stay at the old lookout site.

Nearly an hour went by all to fast. We packed up and headed down. The descent went quickly. The trail is not steep and most of the way is on soft duff. Bob and I took time to photograph flowers as we descended. We were down by about 2:30. It warmed up to about 70 degrees and was very comfortable. In another month this south facing trail will be a real furnace.

It was early enough that we drove on to Leavenworth. The Wenatchee River is high with lots of white water in Tumwater Canyon. We finished the day with a nice dinner at Rick's place in Skykomish. It was late enough by then to have an easy drive back on Highway 2. Dirty Face is an excellent hike for a good workout with an outstanding view. Spring time is good as the summer heat is still weeks away. The views are also far nicer when all the peaks are cloaked in white. I'll have to make sure I don't wait another 15 years to return.


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Photo Page 2

Trips - 2006