It looked to be
a washed out weekend. Rain on Saturday followed by heavy rain and snow
on Sunday. I had to be back in town early on Saturday. What to do?
Janet wanted to go scramble a mountain. She had double knee replacement
surgery only 6 1/2 months earlier and had been slowly building back up.
How about 7 miles with 3300' of gain with the last 1/2 mile and 800' of
gain off trail up the ridge? Earl Peak it was. Since I had to be back
early and it is a 230 mile round trip drive it meant another early
morning alarm. 4:45 am early. We met in Bellevue at 5:50 am and headed
east in the dark. One quick stop in Cle Elum and we reached the
trailhead at 7:45. We were on the trail just before 8:00.
There was a horse trailer and half a dozen trucks at the Beverly Creek
trailhead. This was the second week of the main deer hunting season. I
was prepared with a whole lot of orange clothing. All along the
Teanaway River valley we saw golden leaves. Much more than I expected.
The trail also was lined with golden leaves much of the way. We quickly
reached Bean Creek and took a right turn on the trail to Bean Creek
The creek crossing was easy as the water is still low. This trip is
back end loaded for elevation gain. The trail is very gently graded all
the way to the saddle on the ridge of Earl Peak. While most of our
drive was under a layer of clouds it miraculously cleared up in the
Teanaway valley. It was cold but blue sky shone overhead. The trail
climbs the ridge of Earl then descends to meet the Standup Creek trail.
Most folks on the trail head up to Bean Creek Basin on a non official
boot path. Year ago I spent half an hour searching for the real trail
as it disappeared after the second crossing of Bean Creek.
That is no longer a problem as the route is well maintained and easy to
follow. In fact the first part of the climb to the ridge has had very
recent work widening the narrow tread. The ascent is easy as the trail
makes many long gentle switchbacks. Mostly it is in forest though there
are a number of open views out to Bean, Mary, and Judi Peaks and down
to the basin. Janet noticed pair of lone bluebell type flowers still in
full bloom. It seems they don't know that it's late October.
Our steady pace with lots of photo stops brought us to the saddle at
10:04. Just a little over 2 hours to hike 3.1 miles with 2450' of gain.
I noticed the burnt trees and suddenly recalled that a horse had died
at this place during the summer. An attempt at cremation led to a small
forest fire. Thankfully the horse is no longer there. Now we were ready
fun part, Janet's first scramble and first summit in nearly a year.
The ridge route has no exposure. It is just a steep hike up grass,
loose scree, and some boulders. Not that hard unless you had double
knee replacement surgery recently. We took it slow and Janet did just
way up clouds came screaming in. One minute I could see the Cascade
Crest many miles away and then I could not see Bean Creek Basin right
below us. We were still comfortably warm but visibility went to
practically zero. The summit above drifted in and out of sight as we
climbed higher. Soon there was no more mountain to climb as we reached
the 7036' summit. The old brass Mountaineer summit register was no
there. No signing in this day.
The wind was still light as we bundled up. It was just about 11:00 am
when we summited. Views were non existent but we did not care. We had a
great hike up with blue sky and views most of the way and real lonesome
feeling white out on the top. We heard one gun shot but otherwise no
signs of anyone else. By 11:20 we were ready to head down. This was a
tougher test for Janet as the loose rock makes it easy to slip and
fall. Half way back to the saddle it began to snow. Big flakes blown
horizontally right at us. A short fun early taste of the winter that is
coming. We each took a short movie to catch the snowfall.
The snow stopped as quickly as it had begun. That was it for
precipitation and rain gear was never needed. We made it back to the
saddle with no slips or falls. As we dropped off the ridge the thick
clouds parted as quickly as they had formed. Back in the basin the sky
turned mostly blue and the sun came back out. The wind had picked up on
our descent from the summit and fingers had felt frozen. The sun
quickly warmed us up again. We reached the trail head at 2:15, right on
pace for getting me back to Seattle on time. Just after we reached the
car a group of hunters also came back. We saw nobody on the trail and
just these folks at the end of the day. Not bad solitude for a pretty
On the drive back to Seattle we ran into a lot of rain. Our early
morning start proved to be great timing. We missed all the
hard rain to come. Going into a popular hunting area on day
forecast to be very rainy kept away the hikers and delivered up
solitude and great weather to us. Earl is one of my favorite summits.
Many of my visits are on snow. It was nice to visit at a time it was
snow free. Janet had a chance to push her recovery a little and I had
another great day in the mountains.
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.
Starting Up The Trail
Sun & Shade
Starting Up Earl
Clouds Roll In Fast
Hiker Against White Sky
Bean Basin Disappears
Bean Basin Is Brown
Let It Snow...
Clouds & Snow
Orange & Yellow
Color Along Creek
Wall Of Yellow
Trips - 2010