Carne Mountain

Last week we had a great larch hike to Ingalls Lake. The larch were a little short of peaking but were still very good. The crowd was immense. This week Gary, Janet, and I went looking for a second and even better larch hike. John joined us. Recent reports showed that there was about 6 inches of fresh snow in the basin. Add bright sunshine and we had nearly perfect larch viewing conditions. We met Janet in Monroe at 7:00 am and headed east. Up the road to Lake Wenatchee and then onto the Chiwawa River Road. This was the first day of the general deer hunting season so we expected to see lots of hunter camps. Actually there were some but less than expected. We pulled into the 3550 parking lot at 9:15 am. There were only about 7 or 8 other cars. Several had thick ice on the windshields. It was definitely sub freezing overnight. Mark and Nancy (The Zackster) drove in just ahead of us. I had not seen them in some time.

We were packed up and on the way at 9:33 am. Cold but very clear sky. After 2/10ths of a mile the Carne trail heads off the Phelps Creek trail. The trail climbs steadily and the effort allowed us to warm up. I hiked up this trail with Gary in October 2006 when we did the Carne High Route. That was another great larch trip. The trail is in good shape with two trees down. One is small and an easy step over. The other one is big. We were able to climb over it but shorter legged folks have cut a trail around it. Although the route gains. 2600' in just under 3 miles to the basin it is never overly steep. Just a consistent climb. There are many switchbacks along the way.

Higher up the trail comes out of the forest. There was some fall leaf color. There was also some frozen leaf color. A nice benefit of an early start. As we ascended the views out improved. We could see Mt. Maude and Buck Mountain from the parking lot. Many more peaks came into sight, especially above 5500'. Fortress, Chiwawa, and Red Mountains were covered with fresh snow. Above we could also see the first golden larch trees of the day. The first of many. There was a thin layer of packed and icy snow as we reached the basin. It was okay with poles. If not so close the the basin I might have stopped to but on Yaktrax.

The climbing ends abruptly at 6150' as we entered the basin. I took 1:40 to hike up. Larch, larch, and more larch. The basin is not huge but there are larch trees packed in all over the slopes. The combination of blue sky, fresh white snow, and golden larch needles was outstanding. There were still some trees that were partly green but the majority were peaking. Higher up in the basin most all the trees were at their peak. Janet chose to enjoy the lower basin. She had been up to the summit of Carne Mountain just a few months earlier. John, Gary, and I headed to the right. We passed two tents and wound our way through the yellow forest. The low bright sun really lit up the trees.

We made very slow progress. So many larch and so little time. Our route brought us to an open rocky gully leading up to the ridge top. It was snow covered. One set of deer tracks led up the slope. We followed. We cut through more forest to reach the summer trail. It too was packed snow but not quite as slick as below the basin. We passed one hunter coming down. All the orange we wore was not that necessary this day though I wouldn't go out on the first day of hunting season without it. At the pass we had even more views. Entiat peaks to the east now came into view. It's a pretty easy slog up to the summit of Carne Mountain from there.

One hiker was coming down and we were alone when we reached the top. Quite a bit different from the 70+ folks at Ingalls Lake the week before. Great views from the top and almost no wind. One thermometer read 50 degrees and one 45 but it felt warmer in the sun. It was still a little chilly in the shade. Snowy peaks all around and golden larch below. A really great summit on this day. Our solitude did not last all that long. First one group then another and another still. Mark and Nancy also made it to the top. As we headed down we met the largest party of the day, an Everett Recreation group.

The hike down to the basin was slow as the lighting was still excellent for photos. One last break in the basin and we headed down. On the way we passed a number of groups going up and down. Only one seemed to be backpacking. We were back to the car at around 4:00 pm. The 6 1/2 hours hiking was just more than the total driving time. It was decidedly cold at the trailhead. The warmth of the summit was quickly forgotten. The drive home was easy with no backups in Sultan.

Each year I hope for a day with sun and golden larch trees. Sometimes there is even some fresh snow. Getting all three at once is rare. Getting multiple days like that in one year is very unusual. Gary has had two years in a row like that.  I have had one perfect weekend last year and two day trips this year. I hope to be lucky again next year. All in all this was a great day in the mountains.

Fresh Snow Above
Parking Lot View
First Fall Color
Frosted Leaves
Frozen Highlights
More Leaf Color
Buck Mountain
Frozen Trail
Nearing Basin
Lone Snowy Larch
Entering Basin
Carne Basin
Gold & Blue
Carne Mountain
Green & Gold
Climbing Around Basin
Dark Green Backdrop
Snowy Logs & Larch
Light & Darker
White Swath
Meandering In Larch
Just More Larch
Contrasting Colors
Reach For The Sky...
191Framed Larch
Yellow Against Blue Sky
Sunny Tree Tops
Snowy Gully
Big Larch Triangle
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Photo Page 2

Trips - 2011