Lake Angeles & Higher, Mar 06

It's not where you're born, it's where you belong - U2

On a recent trip back 'home' to the Northwest I spent a little quality time with my cousin Jess and husband Frank in Port Townsand, followed by some quality time in the Olympic mountains. Thanks to the great snow year, most trail access was way up a snowed-in road, except for the Hurricane ridge area. The only way to get a lot of elevation on HR is to start at the gate at the bottom (conveniently avoiding the need to pay a toll) and head for Lake Angeles or the other ridge. I had very little in the way of maps, but a well trodden trail up to the lake, which went by quickly. Then the fun begins.

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The beatn trail ended at the lake so from there it was route finding at its finest. I knew from the map that the trail wanders around the south of the lake and up the east ridge, ending above the lake. A shortcut looked unlikely as I had left the ice axes and front pointing crampons behind, so I found the beginning of the trail, and managed to follow that for maybe 400m before the way was no longer obvious. Climbed up to the ridge and continued along that way for a little while, as I had done once before in a late spring climb, also on snow. And once again I reached the end of the "easy" ridge (still sloping off quite steeply on either side, and snow shoes are really lousy for contouring), and was left looking up some rather imposing terrain. We had turned back at this point on the previous attempt, but there was plenty of day left so I was not to be so quickly deterred. After deciding that straight up the ridge was not an option, I pulled off the snow shoes and post-holed down the steep ridge, and continued around to the more west facing, and slightly less steep slopes

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More climbing in the classic cascades style; steep terrain, a bit of bushwacking, and lots of snow. The angles were in the 35-40 degree range for parts of the ascent, and all my more recently honed Colorado avalanche instincts were screaming. This sort of angle and snow pack would be almost certain suicide in Colorado, but in Washington, the snow is much better at staying where it was dropped. Topping out above the lake it was an easy jaunt to the ridge, where it slowly cleared for the full view of the Olympics, Cascades, and Vancouver Island. Awesome

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Looking south to Mt. Olympus

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Mt. Baker visible in the distance, and looking down onto Lake Angeles. The direct route would be much shorter, but I had left the toboggen and parachute at home, so it was back down the way I came up, which looked even steeper now, and finally, back up the initial ridge, which involved wading uphill through slushy snow, and pulling myself up by grabbing tree branches. This, if nothing else, felt completely avalanche suicidal. Ah well, lived to die another day.

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Now I'm really curious to do this hike in the summer and fine out where the trail really goes.


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