Sunday, December 19, 2010

Diamond Head, Redux

This year's trip to Diamond Head, a peak in the East Cascades near Blewett Pass, was a little different from the same trip back in January of 2009. While we still had temperatures in the low 20s, snowmobilers at the trailhead and jokes about the namesake in Honolulu, the big difference was improvement in snow conditions, but also the lack of views.

After a long drive, stopping at Snoqualmie Pass to pick up our Mountaineers leader, Chris, standing at the side of the road like a hitch-hiking snowshoer, we started out in cold conditions. We soon left the snowmobilers behind, but made our own noises: crunch of snow, scrape of snowshoe and poles, and some chitter-chatter, too.

Instead of looking out to views of the Stewart Range, which were meager today, we were enthralled by the larch trees, laden with ice and frost and by the ponderosa with white ice coated over the bright green moss.

The navigating was easy, following the trail of trees marked with blue diamonds. I couldn't help thinking of the song, "She Wore Blue Diamonds" as we made our way toward the last pitch of climbing. The snowmobilers were there, on the Forest Service road, heralding our arrival. One of these days, we need to enlist them to carry up hot drinks and a nice meal for us.

the Hog Loppett goes this way...
perfect xmas trees
We reached our destination after ascending the last ridge and following it to the end, where it opened up to a ledge with what could have been views to the Stewart Range and Mt Rainier. See my post from 2009, here, if you missed out. We did have a limited view for a few minutes, before the fog came down to stay.

The journey back down was made with determination and limited stops, as the temperature was dropping and the light was dimming. We made it back to the Issaquah Park & Ride at 6:30PM to find the cars we'd left behind had a thick coat of ice on them, though it was 36 degrees, beyond the range of ice temperature. Physically, my leg help up very well today, with just a few grimaces made from pain. Later, however, I discovered I had a black toenail on my second toe, probably from some toe fighting going on in my boot. All in all, a great day out to the sometimes-sunny side.

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