Yellow Aster Butte>

A group trip came together via an online conversation Friday night. After several ideas were hashed out we settled on Yellow Aster Butte. Then one dropped out. Then another changed plans. Finally just three of us were set. The days are getting short and so we planned an early start. I drove north to meet Gwen at 6:30 am. Craig had signed on though we was planning to carpool then hike up to High Pass from the YAB trailhead. We would meet Brian at the trailhead. I have been to YAB two times. Once in early summer and once in early fall. Both were on beautiful sunny days. Once with some snow and once bare.We cruised up the Mt. Baker Highway and arrived at the 3700' trailhead 9:00 am. Craig headed up the road on foot and we waited for Brian. After waiting until 9:02 am we headed onto the trail. The forecast was for partly sunny skies and 10-14 mph winds. Not exactly. It was completely overcast as we started out.

The trail starts a little steeply then settles down to a moderate grade. There was a little color on the hillside near the trailhead. Once into forest there was no color. That would change. There were 15 or so vehicles at the trailhead and more arriving. Still not a crowd by YAB standards. We made steady progress in the forest. The way opens up and views begin. The tops of the volcanoes were in the clouds all day. Most all other peaks were in the clear. There had been recent rain as the meadows were muddy. In a few places work is needed to get the running water off the trail. I wore winter boots and slogged through with dry feet all day.

There was surprising color still left on the bushes. The lack of sun did not allow any backlighting all day but the color was still very good. No glare in any photos at least. At the junction with the trail to Gold Run Pass the route begins a long traverse under the summits of Yellow Aster Butte. A few groups passed us going in and a few coming out already but the trail was not very busy. We managed some pretty good photo opportunities. They were better on the way out. At the spot where there is often snow to cross there is still hard icy snow from last winter. It will easily last into this winter. Considering our warm summer I thought it would be nearly or fully gone by late October.

As we wound our way around the wind began to blow. We had some light breezes earlier but now it was blowing steadily. One of the biggest surprises of the day was the abundance of big ripe berries. Some were past ripe but a lot of them were very sweet. No need to go off the trail. The bushes right along the trail were loaded. Why have the animals not eaten any? Some bushes had more blue berries than red leaves. It did slow us down. We climbed up to near the next junction. Up to the false summit or down to the tarns. We had not settled on exactly where to go. We did arrange to meet Craig back at the car at 4:00 pm. Otherwise we could go up, down, or maybe both. We had to put on jackets and cinch up the hoods against the wind. I had been in short sleeves just a little earlier. The 10-14 mph winds forecast were more like 15-20 with gusts to over 25 mph. Once above tree level there were not a lot of places to hide from it.

We decided to head up to the false summit. The wind was nearly enough to blow us over. The route goes straight up. No switchbacks just about 400' right up the fall line. Another hiker had had enough of the wind and was coming down. The wind was out of the south. At the summit we dropped down the boot path along the north ridge. Not out of the wind but it was a lot less strong. It was 12:20 pm. Time for lunch. I had been along the ridge and up the real summit of Yellow Aster Butte back in 2006. Gwen had not been up it. She wanted to go for it. Walking the narrow wind and scrambling the summit in all that wind did not seem to be all that much fun but what the heck.

First we had to climb down the ridge to a saddle then up to a bump a little more down and then the summit scramble. it was windy but the false summit seemed to block a little of the wind. The ridge went fast. The summit scramble is a little exposed but not too bad. It was a bit more sporting with all the wind. We worked our way up to the top for a short stay. No reason to stay long. We could see down to Tomyhoi Lake but otherwise the view is not much different from the false summit. Looking down to the wind on the tarns below it was clear that we would not be dropping down there this day. Two summits would be enough.

As we dropped back down to the ridge we met two more folks scrambling the real summit. Back along the ridge then another short stay on the false summit. There were half a dozen others up there. They headed down when we did. About 75 feet below the false summit we met the same vicious winds we felt on the way up. Just a short section but the strongest winds of the day. A little lower and they were back down to 25 mph or less. As we traversed the south side of the butte the winds decreased. Soon the hood came off and eventually the jacket too. The leaf colors seemed even more vibrant on the way out. Lots of red, yellow, and orange. We did not see that many hikers until descending from the false summit. It seemed everyone was heading down at the same time. We let a lot of them pass by and had some solitude once again.

I was a little surprised by the number of folks heading in at 3:00 pm. Darkness is not long after 6:00 pm now. Once back into forest the colors were done and we picked up the pace. We reached the trailhead at 3:58 pm , pretty close to the 4:00 pm return time we were aiming for. At the trailhead we met Raising 3 Hikers, Iron, and his wife Carry. They had climbed Tomyhoi Peak in all that wind. That must have been an adventure. Our trip was much shorter but very enjoyable. More fall color and a lot more berries than I expected. The wind was not expected but it did not stop of from reaching the false summit and real summit of YAB. The sun shone around us at times but not one us. Still, it did not rain either. A whole lot of positives for a late fall day in the North Cascades.

Many Colored Leaf
Ridges & Leaves
Yellow Leaves
Muted Colors
Mountain Ash
Gwen On Trail
Better Colors
Rocks & Leaves
Yellow & Green
Mt. Larrabee
More Sunlight
Peaks To The South
Looking East
Grass & Leaves
Improving Colors
Berry Fields
Amazing Colors!
Looking West
Red, Orange, & Yellow
Small Tarn
False Summit Above
Hood On Wind Blowing
Lower Mt. Shuksan
Tarns & Tomyhoi
Steep & Windy
Hunkering Down
Tomyhoi Peak
YAB Real Summit
Gwen Nears Summit
Gwen On Summit
Summit Close Up
Great Sky Lighting
Heading Back
Nearing False Summit
Two On Summit
Snow On Larrabee
Goat Mountain
Tarn, Peaks, & Color
Blue Sky
Mountain Vista
Ripe Berries
Incredible Colors
Great Lighting
Sunshine For A Moment
Granite & Leaves
Who Needs Sun?
Last Color
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2014