366 days ago a friend and I tried to hike to Split Rock but were turned around due to the deep snow (in sneakers) and limited time. We didn't see Split Rock but we did enjoy the peculiarity of Bald Mountain.***
Fast Forward to today... I managed to round up a different buddy for another attempt.
This buddy was the guy who first told me about Split Rock: Ron Peterson with the Mount Baker Club. He'd been there a few times before, but it was decades ago and he was ready for a repeat visit.
Our schedules collided and we found ourselves trekking out there with mountain bikes and snowshoes.
We had clouds, sun and snow.
Ron and I encountered snow a lot lower than last year, but we made good use of some old 4WD tracks that were solid enought to walk in without snowshoes - even though the snow was more than three feet deep in places.
Eventually the tracks petered out and we had to switch to snowshoes. It slowed our progress a bit, but the snow was pretty crusty -- breaking trail wasn't a whole lot different that we we had been doing in the tire tracks -- except now we were wearing snowshoes while doing it.
Snowing at 2,500 ft on 4/19/11
Split Rock is a HUGE rock that just sits there... surrounded by nothing similar. My buddy explained that he heard from some knowledgeable geologists that this was not dropped here by a receeding glacier but it was in fact spit up by the earth at some point long, long ago.
It's hard to guage the scale in these pictures. This thing is at least as large as a five story building. At least!
We didn't climb to the top, but if I happen to go back then climbing to the top would be primary objective. Ron recalls that if you hike past Split Rock a short ways you can then circle around it and locate a reasonably easy route to the top.
The return on bikes was heavenly! Having to hike those final miles would have just been too much to be enjoyable.
All in all, it was a great day with excellent company, unusual weather (but it kept us cool without being cold or drenched) and lots of miles.
Our round trip clocked in at 13.9 miles with 2, 194 feet of elevation gain. We biked about 7 miles, hiked about 2.5 miles and snowshoed about 2.5 miles.
The gate was open upon our arrival and still open when we left, but we left the vehicle outside the gate.
Rumor has it that it is possible to drive directly to Split Rock in the summer. I don't know the route or the status of any gates along the way(or the appropriate vehicle) to take a stab at that, although finding that route could save YOU a ton of time and effort.
*** Regarding Bald Mountain: Here is a link to Dave Tucker's NW Geology Field Trip to Bald Mountain, in case you are interested in learning more about the geology of the area. Bald Mountain is on my 'to-do' list if you might be interested in tagging along (or leading the way).
Next Trip: North Fork of the Sauk River (Trip #142, 04/20/2011)