Wildflower Wander

July 29th, 2013 in Trips, Trails, & Tours

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Yesterday I completed what I call the Triumvirate Hike, which entails scrambling up our three local peaks:  Tamarack, McWaukum, and Mt. Baldy. I started from High Camp by climbing Wild Bill Hill via the Sunset trail and continuing up McCue Ridge along Upper Sunset. I fixed cairns where the snow had knocked them over and savored the views. The last time I was up there it was still snow covered, just a few short months ago. Now the meadows are covered with flowers. Spring has come to the mountains!

Where Upper Sunset intersects with Ridgetop, I followed the trail towards Lake Chiwaukum, but turned off before it started dropping off the ridge. From here I traveled off-trail by following the ridge crest to High Point and eventually the Hanging Gardens. Here I was rewarded with lots of blossoms:  Pink and white heather, shooting stars, lupine, elephant’s head, valerian and more. After traversing the slopes of Tamarack I climbed a mostly rock ridge up to the summit of where I shared a rest break with a pica.  

I descended the west ridge of Tamarack and climbed the more impressive McWaukum (named for the intesection of the Chiwaukums and McCue Ridge). While cliffs drop off on nearly three sides of the mountain a srtaightforward scramble took me to the summit, which I last stood on top of during the sunrise on New Year’s morning. I enjoyed the views of Mt Rainier, Mt Daniel, Mt Stuart, Glacier Peak, and Big Jim. Another fifteen minutes of walking brought me to Baldy where I then sauntered down through the meadows bursting with flowers.

On my way to Lake Donald I saw a beautiful coyote and passed fellow hosts Shirlee and Clyde, who were completing a similar loop but without climbing the peaks. I met my parents, David and LIz, at Lake Donald and hiked with them to Lock Eileen where my mother and I enjoyed a swim (more accurately she enjoyed a swim and I just dunked, shockingly my first time getting into one of our local lakes). I’ve done this loop countless times in all seasons; during winter on skis, in the fall with the larches laden with golden needles and in the summer with the flowers. It never grows old and it always feels special.