Yellow Aster Butte (Sep 27-28, 2008)

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yab_coverConditions: Backpack
Gear: Overnight gear
Map: USGS Mount Shuksan
Area: Mt Baker
Reference: 100 Hikes in Washington's North Cascades National Park Region
Stats: 10mi, 3454' gain (round trip)

I wanted to take Flat Stanley on one last great adventure before sending him back to Cookeville, TN. I think I nailed this trip.

The weather forecast was looking too good to be true so I decided to head up to Baker. I got an early start because I wanted this to be one of those lazy trips. I took my camera and a tattered old copy of Silas Marner. I planned to put both to good use. The trail starts out on the steep side as it switches back first through trees, then through brush then back in the trees. Not a lot of views at first. On this trip there were no views...the clouds had the entire area socked in and I had no idea what I was missing. The cool temps made the elevation gain "pleasant".

It looks like last weeks snow pummeled the huckleberries. The ones that were still on the bush were mushy and sour. The trail eventually crossed over a gully dirty with avalanche debris as it continues to climb. The trail eventually made a turn to the right and I knew there were views. I knew it...there had to be...but where were they. Oh yeah, behind the clouds.

The trail dropped a couple hundred feet down a steep set of short switchbacks to get to the area where the tarns are. There were already two tents I could see set up in the area so I picked an area higher up, in the trees, it looked idea.

The barometer continued to climb so I was hopeful the views would improve. They slowly did. Boy did they. It was fun taking my time watching the weather clear as I thumbed my way through a good book.

The sun set and I had wonderful views of Shuksan. The dew was incredibly heavy so instead of staying out getting wet and chilled I climbed into my bivy and finished of Silas Marner. I got up once during the night to a night filled with stars. It brought back the line from 2001 A Space Odyssey "it's full of stars"! Morning brought a gorgeous sunrise. I took my time packing up and on the way out went up the small bump before YAB (it was early and I was alone and didn't know if the knees would be happy on YAB).

The hike out was pleasantly filled with colorful hills. Gosh, I can't believe it took me this long to hike this gem!

87 people on the trail heading up 2 with cologne so strong it could be used as an insecticide
3 people with bear bells (made it sound like Christmastime)
5 dogs (two on a leash, two were terriers, 3 were mutts, no poodles today)
49 cars at the trailhead
Yellow Aster Butte Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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