The Year In Review

2012 was a very good hiking year. I closed 2011 with a huge last three months. With a fast start to the new year I reached near all time highs for miles and elevation gain. By the end of the third quarter I had 1004 miles and 279,600' of gain over 12 months. My fourth quarter was good though I did not hike every weekend day and do a headlamp hike every mid week. The result was my fifth best year for miles with 917 and my second best year for elevation gain with 254,400. That makes the last two years the best for elevation gain over all 30 years I have been hiking regularly.

Again this year I joined Gary, John, and David for a number of midweek headlamp hikes that gave a big boost to the numbers. Those 23 hikes averaged about 8 miles and 2500' of gain. It was nice to break up the week with an evening on the trail. It was a disappointing backpacking year as I only managed three trips with 6 nights out. The trips were all excellent. The Pilot Ridge trip was terrific. Great scenery and new territory in Foam Basin and Whitechuck Moraine. Getting back to the abandoned lower Green Mountain Trail was fantastic. We saw more bears than people on the trail. I hope the Green Mountain Lookout is not removed. If so I had one final visit. I hiked 10 new trails and a few others for the first time in many years.

We had a lot of snow left in the mountains well into summer and fall in places. From mid summer on we had 93 days without measurable rain. The driest period I ever recall. Bugs were not bad this year either. I had an almost even divide between solo and group hikes. I enjoyed both. My biggest disappointment of the year was canceling my backpacking trip to Central Idaho just a few days before leaving. It was a bad year for fires in the west Bad in Washington and really bad in Idaho. Now on to the monthly highlights.

Coming off a huge December 2011, with 113 miles and 34,100' of gain, I had a fast start to 2012. I hiked a 10 mile loop on Cougar Mt. the first day of the new year. A drive to the east side of the mountains led to a second snowshoe scramble of Red Top Lookout. Snow hit Seattle later in the month and I managed a 5 mile ski trip right from my driveway at home. More hikes close to Seattle and one headlamp hike with Gary and John. The month ended with another drive east and a large group snowshoe trip up Hex Mountain. 66 miles with 17,300' of gain.

Three more headlamp hikes for the month. Finally back on skis after no trips to the mountains last year. We skied up to Windy Pass, Nordic Pass, and Radio Peak. I had a beautiful sunny winter day for a return trip to Blanchard Mt./Oyster Dome. Frozen Lakes but bare ground this time. The last snowshoe trip of the month was to Mt. Catherine. Cloudy with few views but good snow conditions. Hoping for rime ice on top I took a camera to Tiger Mt. That's unusual. Rime atop Tiger 1 made for good photos. More close in hikes made for a very good February. 80 miles with 21,700' of gain.

The month began with another large group snowshoe off Highway 410. We snowshoed up Deep Creek and summited a bump near Noble Knob and then Mutton Mountain. After many trips on the north end of the Yakima Skyline Trail I made my first visit to the south end. More lowland snow led to an interesting headlamp hike up to Grand Prospect on Rattlesnake Mt. Waist deep snow at the top. A long night hike. Another drive east to near Blewett Pass provided a great day skiing on the Pipe Creek Loop. Snowshoes took us to the ridge top. 70 miles with 21,400' of gain.

A number of us pushed hard for the repair of the Suiattle River Road. When comments were opened for the new Environmental Assessment we had over 90% of 400+ comments in favor of repair. That is the most comments I have ever heard of on an EA. As part of the work Randy and I biked to the end of the Suiattle Road to check it out once again. The month  had more Cougar, Squak, and Tiger Mt. hikes too. I managed one more cross country ski trip as Gary, John, and I spent a day on Mazama Ridge. They were already plowing the road for spring. Janet and I headed to Leavenworth for a hike up Icicle Ridge. Some spring flowers and no snow for most of the hike. April proved to be the second lowest month for miles and elevation. 53 miles with 15,500' of gain.

I picked up the pace in May. I made a second visit to Swakane Canyon. A group hike with wildflowers in bloom. Gary and John joined me for the Wallace Lake/Falls Loop with a twist. We headed beyond Jay Lake towards Shaw Lake. Turns out we stopped just short at "Not Shaw Lake." At 17 miles it was my second longest day hike of the year. I had an enjoyable day hike up Mt. Baldy. Only saw two people all day and that was on the summit. At month end on Memorial Day Weekend I joined a big group for an overnighter to Oval Lakes in the Chelan Sawtooths. Still lots of snow up high. 88 miles with 24,900' of gain.

An early morning business meeting in Puyallup led to a long day hike at Pack Forest. 13 miles, a new trail for me, and my first time behind a roaring waterfall. A long drive and a new hike for me was Meeks Table. A short hike to a wildflower bonanza on a flat butte with near vertical drops on three sides. Kim joined me for a trip up to the Kachess Ridge Beacon. the shortcut trail with an open southern exposure was bare while the forested trail was still under snow. Tronsen Ridge is an annual wildflower hike for me. Four of us spent a partly damp day with the usual great flower show. Gary, John, and I did an after work mountain bike trip through the Snoqualmie Tunnel. The fourth time for Gary and I.  72 miles with 17,500' of gain.

Janet, Gwen, and I headed to the Teanaway for a hike to Yellow Hill and Elbow Peak. My first visit to Elbow Peak since 1990. Beautiful day with few people. My longest day hike was 18 miles to Snoqualmie Lake via Taylor River. My first time hiking from the old road end to the lake. I made a third trip to Goat Island Mountain. Clearest day with best views yet. A group hike took me back to Crystal Lake off the Whitechuck. Kim and I backpacked there before the road was repaired. Still lots of snow at the lake in July. Gwen joined me for another day in the Teanaway at Koppen Mountain. We can in the less often traveled route from Medra Pass. Wildflowers still going strong. My toughest day hike of the year was a return to Three Brothers Mountain and Navaho Peak. Gary joined me. Great views and nobody else until we summited Navaho on the way back. I finished the month with a visit to Rainbow and Blazer Lakes. I brushed out the abandoned trail to Blazer. 108 miles with 29,600' of gain.

Janet joined me for my second consecutive visit to Bearhead Mountain and Summit Lake. A hot day had me looking for shade. More great wildflowers now in August. With Monte Cristo scheduled for closure and environmental clean up the next few years I wanted to return. Gwen joined me for a trip to Glacier Basin. A very hot day. Blisteringly hot. A cool breeze in the basin blowing over the snow made it almost comfortable. Kim joined me for a return visit to Ashland and Twin Falls Lakes. At a slower pace I actually noticed all the huge trees along the trail. Wild fires in Idaho canceled my backpacking trip to the White Cloud Mountains at the last minute. The biggest disappointment of the year. As a consolation I planned a last minute backpacking trip to Kaleetan Lake. My car died in the Melakwa Lake parking lot. I still wrote a trip report for the ordeal. I took Gary & John along for another visit to Summerland/Banshee Peak. Fantastic day with great views. I visited the Foss Lakes as far as Little Heart Lake in 1988. 24 years later I went back and this time continued on to Big Heart Lake. My second 15 miler in a row. 70 miles with 17,700' of gain.

The month began with a great four day backpacking trip. Gary and I did the Pilot Ridge Loop in 2003. John came along this time and we added a day and a loop through Foam Basin and Red Pass. Terrific weather and great scenery. A trip to Kendall Peak turned out to be my closest call on trail. A climber above kicked down a boulder and I jumped just before it rolled over the spot where I was standing. I don't need that kind of excitement. Gary joined me for my second trip up the old abandoned Green Mountain Trail. We biked up the Suiattle Road and camped at Downey Creek. At the lake we saw a bear nad two cubs. Only one hunter at a distance. Sunset at the lookout. A really great trip. After the summer off I joined back in on the headlamp hikes. Bandera Mountain was first. The last hike of the month was to Yellow Aster Butte. Just my second visit. First time up the Tomyhoi Peak trail a ways. Still snow in places at the end of September. Second biggest month for miles and tops for elevation gain. 103 miles with 32,200' of gain.

My lowest month for miles and elevation gain. Only five hikes with two of them being midweek headlamp hikes. I took a Friday off work to beat the weather and get in a great larch hike to Ingalls Lake. Kim and I had lots of time for photos. The last trip was a group trip on the Iron Goat Trail. It was my first visit. Some great falls colors. 45 miles with 12,000' of gain.

It has been many years since I did not make it up Iron Peak. With the road likely to be closed by snow soon Janet and I headed east to the Teanaway. some fall colors plus Larch trees I did not know existed made for a great day. Cloudy with few views. At the summit the rocks were plastered with lady bugs. Great conditions on Mt. Dickerman a week later. Mostly bare with a coating of snow up high. The views disappeared just as we reached the summit. The rest of the month was spent hiking closes to Seattle. Three headlamp hikes. 68 miles with 20,300' of gain.

Kim, Janet, & I did a rainy day hike to Boulder River. It never stopped raining. Great shots of the falls. We did an especially long headlamp hike on Tiger Mountain. 10 miles with 3300' of gain. A trip to East Rattlesnake Mountain with Kim was more than half on snow. Winter is coming. I cranked out three trips after Christmas to get over 900 miles and 250,000' of gain. My next to last trip of the year was a 10 mile trip to Wallace Lake & Falls, largely on snow. My annual year end hike on Tiger Mountain was a long one. Gary, John, and I did a one way trip over three summits. 14 miles with 2800' of gain took us all day. A fine finish to a great year on the trail. 94 miles with 24,300' of gain.

 My Top 10 Trips Of 2012
01. Pilot Ridge
02. Green Mountain
03. Ingalls Lake
04. Oval Lakes

05. Three Brothers/Navaho Peaks
06. Banshee Peak
07. Foss Lakes
08. Glacier Basin
09. Goat Island Mountain
10. Yellow Hill/Elbow Peak

All Trips - 2012