Friday, December 28, 2012

Sumas Mtn Mines 12-15-2012

Weather forecast included about 112% chance of precipitation and a trend of cooler temperatures.  Rather than spend my time driving east to find potential sunshine, Sumas Mountain lured me northward with the promise of snow instead of rain and a tantalizing scavenger hunt for missing mines #2 and #3.

Some of you may vaguely recall a Sumas Mountain trip report from April where I enjoyed a full day with two well known local geologists.  That trip report included locating Mine #1, the infamous Sumas Safe, the Sumas Mountain Outpost and the 'Sumas Mountain Summit Register' that honestly is no where near the summit and is closer to dangling from a soggy cord off a cliff face.  Yep, that was an interesting day and you can read all about it over here.

This second visit to Sumas Mountain involved a clockwise rotation (whereas the first trip was counter clockwise).

The clockwise rotation gave me a chance to first visit the cabin to gander at the not-to-scale map mounted on the cabin wall.  This map indicated that Mines #2 and #3 are both upstream from Mine #1.

 Hardin Creek or Rankin Creek... not really sure.

Long story short... Mine #2 and #3 are upstream from #1 and are both accessible to those with determination.

The trail is steep and soft.  Some parts of the trail have sluffed off down the hill... that's how steep and soft it is.  It's highly recommended that you go slow, proceed with caution, bring (and use) poles and keep in mind the huge 'slow landslide' that is just a couple valleys to the south of you. 

Mine #2 is easy to enter from the trail.  Since I was solo, I only ventured in far enough to take the posted photos. 

Mine #3 is much more tricky.  Descent is a risky route of veggie belays or your ability to trust a thin, old, elastic rope (twine may be a better description) to keep you stable as you descend to the creek.  Once down to the creek, you'll need to cross it because Mine #3 is on the opposite side.

To reach the Mine #3 shaft you'll have to either yank yourself up using a rope anchored to a rock that appears to be holding up the mine roof.  I wasn't brave enough to stand under the entrance and pull on the  rope that would pull on the rock.  

The other option is to 'belly crawl' your way up a slippery tree trunk that someone has placed against the slick rock wall.  Considering the wet conditions of the day (and the fact that I was all alone out here), I opted to leave skip that option too.

The third potential option is to go downstream about 20 feet and attempt to climb up a steep incline of soft duff to get above the mine, then switchback your way down to the mine entrance... all the way on a steep incline of soft duff.  A misplaced step or loss of footing would send you sliding into the shallow creek... probably with a broken ankle or leg.

So... I didn't actually get to peer into Mine #3. 

That's alright though.  A third trip to Sumas Mountain is a necessity as I still desire to hike over to get a better view of the 'slow landslide'.  Probably that will wait until we've had at least 10 consecutive DRY and HOT days.

Since the trail seems to end at Mine #3, I turned around and headed back to the main trail.

Once at the clearing, I set out to explore the Slow Landslide area, but concluded that I was too tired and too wet for any more adventures.  So, it will wait for a future visit.

On the way out, a quick visit to Mine #1 and the Safe were interesting (and easy).

The weather forecast held true.  It rained or snowed on me most of the day and it just so happened that my clothing hit its saturation point just as the car came into view.

The day ended with a quick jaunt over the border into Canada for some Peanut Free Chocolate and then hitting a number of stores in Bellingham, Burlington and Mount Vernon for Christmas shopping purposes before finally arriving at home.

What a day!

Route Map:  6.5 miles, 2,500 feet of net elevation gain.  The two blue dots furthest to the east represent the #2 and #3 mines.  Other dots indicate trail junctions, Mine #1 and the Safe.

Happy Hiking!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2013 Hiking Calendar

Here is the tentative hiking calendar for 2013:

Jan 12 (Saturday):  Potentially a snowshoe adventure to Artist Point or Razor Hone (both start near Mt. Baker Ski area).

Feb 9 (Saturday):  Destination TBD

Mar 10 (Sunday):  Destination TBD

Apr 20 (Saturday):  Destination TBD

May 18 (Saturday):  Destination TBD

Jun 8 (Saturday):  Destination TBD

Jul 13 (Saturday):  Destination TBD

Aug 10 (Saturday):  Potentially Twin Lakes/Lone Jack Mine Exploration

Sep 7 (Saturday):  Potentially Trappers Peak/Thornton Lakes

Sep 29 (Sunday):  Potentially Yellow Aster Butte or High Pass / Mt. Larrabee

Oct 12 (Saturday):  Potentially Sourdough Mountain

Oct 19 (Saturday):  Potentially Mount Higgins

Nov 9 (Saturday):  Destination TBD

Dec 7 (Saturday):  Destination TBD

As usual, all dates are tentative and subject to change at any time.

Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in sharing the trail on any of these dates - or if you'd like to propose additional dates.

Before you forget, or before it gets too far into the year, be sure to order your very own "Contemplating Adventures" 2013 day planner from  You can preview it right here:

If you'd like me to customize a day planner for you with different starting/ending dates or images please let me know. It would be a fun project.

Happy Trails!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Annette Lake 11-10-2012

The trail to Annette Lake is a popular one during the summer.

Its easy to access location just off I-90 and close proximity to Seattle, Bellevue, Issaquah and all that makes it a popular choice for many hikers.

On November 10, 2012, a group of us make our first trek to the lake under skies of gray and flakes of white. With a minimal amount of snow accumulation on the trail and a minimal amount on the slopes above the trail, this was a safe choice for that date.

However, as the winter solstice approaches, storms arrive and snow accumulations begin to grow, the risk of avalanches along this route also increase. Be aware of the avalanche risks (and know how to interpret the snow conditions and the avy reports) if you even consider making this a winter destination.

The lake sits in a nice cirque, surrounded by tall peaks of the central Cascade Mountains. Hiking the trail in the summer takes you through a number of open brush and talus slopes... winter recreationists will immediately recognize these as avalanche chutes and can't help but to consider the potential for danger.

Don't let me scare you... it's a great lake with beautiful scenery that is well worth the time and effort to visit. Once the snow is gone, the largest risk is probably a sprained ankle.

The route starts off with a mild grade as you ascend to the Iron Horse/John Wayne trail. The route to Lake Annette continues to head upwards, at an increasing rate for the next mile before flattening out for the talus slope crossings and finally the lake itself.

A number of campsites exist at the lake, but honestly I'm not sure what the requirements are for camping up there. Please follow the rules (whatever they happen to be).

We had a great outing and really enjoyed the waterfalls, the view across the Humpback Creek valley and the beauty of the lake -- even though the weather was much less favorable than we had expected.

Round trip was about 7.75 miles and about 2,100 feet of elevation gain.

Go. Hike. Enjoy.

Here are my favorite images from the day, followed by a route map from the gps machine.

Happy Hiking!


PS:  A trip report for Sumas Mountain should be coming in the next week or two.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Itinerary for 12/15/2012

Given the wet-ish weather forecast, I think the primary destination will be Sumas Mountain.  Will scout around the base a bit looking for the missing two mines and trying to find a close up view of the slow landslide.

After that I'll probably work my way up the mountain with the expectation of finding some snow.

Back up plan could involve a visit to Silver Lake park, Maple Falls falls and/or Wells Creek (unlikely).

If it's just awful and horrendous maybe there will be a trip into Canada for a Peanut-free Chocolate mission.

Hope you all stay warm and dry.  :)

Expect to be in cell phone contact by dark.

Happy hiking!


Sunday, December 2, 2012

2013 Day Planner now available

You'll be pleased to know the new 2013 Contemplating Adventures Day Planner is now available at!

Sure, this has been customized with many of my useful dates to remember, but if you want one with the same (or similar) images I'll gladly create a custom version just for you!

Contact me (or leave a comment on this post) and we'll get rolling so it arrives by the time 2013 starts!


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lake Twenty Two 10-16-2012

Mid-October can be a fantastic time to visit Lake 22 (or Lake Twenty Two or Lake Twenty-Two, but not Lake 23).  Fall colors can be plentiful around the lake and the waterfalls are sure to be roaring.

Lake 22 is a similar hike to it's neighbor, Heather (Lake), but 22 is a little bit longer, a little bit higher, a little bit larger (circumference) and a lot better in the trail condition and overall 'bang for your waypoint' than Heather.

This neck of the woods tends to get more than its fair share of rain.  Our hike was no exception.  It started in a downpour which eventually tapered off after less than a mile (but then it came back in fits and spurts throughout the day).

The trail starts off with a mellow incline until it crosses a bridge with a sizable waterfall.  Immediately therafter the grade increases, but there are at least three or four waterfalls to look forward to.

Eventually the trail enters a clearing where the route will switchback once or twice as you gain elevation before re-entering the woods (and a final waterfall) before your sudden arrival at the lake.  The trail continues all the way around the lake, with a few campsites under the cover of trees off to the right (counter clockwise).

The lake itself sits in a large cirque at the base of Mount Pilchuck.  During winter (and spring and most of summer) the lake is mostly frozen and avalanches come down the cirque walls at the far side of the lake.  As seen below, snow (and ice caves) commonly remain through the summer.  Be smart... do not enter the ice caves.  Rescue teams are hours away.

People are known to snowshoe along the trail to the lake, but please be aware of the avalanche dangers involved -- seen and unseen  -- they can and do happen along the main route, and people have lost their lives as a result.  Just because you 'can' get there on snowshoes doesn't mean you 'should' be there.  I'd recommend snowshoeing somewhere else and doing this hike in the fall, before the avalanche risks develop.

In the talus field at the far end of the lake, don't be surprised to find Pika's acting cute, hoping you'll take a photo and turn them into the latest internet sensation.

The trail to Lake Twenty Two starts right off the Mountain Loop Highway a short distance east of the Verlot Ranger Station.  The parking lot is rather large, but on nice weekends in the summer it fills up fast.

Here are a couple videos.  Once contains a panorama taken from the lake, and the other is just a lot of 'rapid fire' snapshots of waterfalls (and pika's).

Route Map:  Approx. 1,700 feet of elevation gain and 7.5 miles round trip (including the lake loop).

Happy Hiking!