Iron Peak

A hike up Iron Peak is an annual event for me. Often as a spring snow scramble. Sometimes as a fall trip after the summer crowds have hung up their boots for the year. Somehow I have found time to get up there every year for over two decades. This year is rapidly coming to an end and I had not found the time. Janet signed on to accompany me. The weather looked to be lousy most everywhere. It was also the first day after then end of daylight saving time. Darkness at 4:50 pm. We were out of town well before sunrise. It rained all the way to Cle Elum. The dry patch ended as we headed up the NF Teanaway Road. At the Beverly Creek trailhead there was one car. Rain gear went on immediately as we headed out in a light rain at 8:40 am.

Visibility was minimal. We were to be in the clouds most all day. I was surprised to see so much water in the Teanaway River and Beverly Creek. The river was just a trickle when I visited the valley just three weeks earlier. Some snow then rain changed that. Bean Creek was still just in one channel. Deep but not too wide. A little hunting upstream and we found a place to jump across with dry feet. The overcast did bring out some deep color in the dying grasses. Very golden brown. Within a mile it was clear that I was over dressed. It was wet but not that cold. I switched from a medium weight wool shirt to a lighter synthetic one. Much more comfortable.

This might have been the first hike I've done this year where I put on a jacket and rain pants at the start and kept them on all day. It never rained hard but it did rain much of the day. When the rain stopped the trees were still dripping. Where we came out of the forest the creek goes underground much of the year. It pops back up higher up. Not this day. It was roaring in that spot. My last visit was in early October 2011. Since then there have been two more slides across the trail. This seems to be happening a lot in the middle of Beverly Basin. The trail disappeared but we had no problem picking it up again. It would be great if a trail crew could rebuild these two short sections next summer.

I almost always stop at a big downed log as this is the first spot where Bill Peak comes into view. Not today. I could see about 75 feet. We soon reached the Fourth Creek junction. It was a couple of rock hops to get across Beverly Creek. More water than I have seen at this spot before. Now came the gentle switchbacks heading to the saddle between Iron and Teanaway Peaks.  There were a few snow patches but none on the trail until near the saddle. Janet pointed out the smashed grass and brush that was testament to the foot or two of snow that was on the ground a week ago. The warm rain has washed nearly all of it away. The rain abated as we neared the ridge. We stopped along the way to reroute a couple creeks off the trail.

It had been dead calm all the way up. Though it was now in the lower 40s I still did not have gloves on. At the saddle we had a gentle breeze. Instead of being able to see all the peaks around us we could see almost nothing. The eerie gray provided a moody feel that I seldom have on this hike. It made a very familiar hike feel somewhat unique. No signs of the pesky goat folks have been seeing at the pass. Janet had a sighting on a summer visit via the trail up the other side of Iron Peak. The ridge top of Iron was mostly bare with some more snow. Higher up it was 4 inches or so deep though even there some ground was bare. The big change was more wind. Cold enough to put my hood back on though it was no longer raining. Gloves now became necessary too.

Just before we reached the summit we discovered that the big rocks were covered with ladybugs. Thousands of them. I have often seen them on snowy peaks in the spring. I have not seen them before the snow in the fall. I have never seen them on Iron Peak at any time. They were dormant. Not a single movement from any of them. It was quite a sight. At the summit we hunkered down behind the rocks for lunch. It was 11:42 am. 3:02 minutes coming up. Not a particularly fast time but not too bad either. Still no visibility. No way to prove we were on a 6500' mountain top. It looked about the same as back down in the valley. 75 feet of gray then nothing. By 12:05 we were ready to head down. A cold walk along the ridge top then off the ridge and back to zero wind.

Back at the Fourth Creek Trail junction we met a couple of hikers. The only people we were to see all day. Two more than I was expecting on a rainy day in November but far from a crowd. The trail is pretty gentle all the way. Easy on the knees. As we hiked through the forest Janet pointed out tall larch trees down near the creek. Sure enough. I had no idea there were larch down in the valley. Right at their peak too. The Lyall's larch near Ingalls Pass were at their peak on my visit three weeks ago. The Western larch are just now peaking. Three very tall larch trees in a group. Farther down we saw a number more golden larch trees high up on the other side of the valley across Beverly Creek. An unexpected treat. I knew there were larch below the ridge from Bean to Mary Peaks near the Fourth Creek Trail. I did not know they were also along Beverly Creek.

We made it back to the car at 3:35 pm. We cut off about 40 minutes on the hike down. It rained much of the day. Visibility started out minimal and stayed that way. Even so this was a fun hike. Almost no other people, unexpected larch trees, good company, and a moody enclosed feeling due to the surrounding gray. A start difference from the 90 straight days without rain we had up until three weeks ago. The change in conditions helped make an old favorite hike feel fresh and new. The road will soon be covered with deep snow but I just managed to get in another annual visit to Iron Peak. About 9 miles with 2900' of gain for the day.

Leaves On The Trail
Ferns Turned Brown
Hiking In The Rain
Limited Visibility
Deep Colors
Onto The Rocks
Recent Washout
Misty Bill Peak
Twisted Tree
Not Much Trail
Colors At Saddle
Janet Nears Saddle
No Views From Ridge
Mostly Snow Free
Where Is Janet?
What Summit?
Even Less Visibility
More Snow
More Ladybugs
One More Shot
Heading Down
Bill Peak Again
Trail Maintenance
Moody Day
Clouds Below
Crossing Washout
Golden Larch!
Three Hearts
Larch Forest
Lone Larch
On The Road Again
Leaf Carpet
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2012