Rock Mountain (Aug 6, 2011)

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rock_mtn_coverConditions: Day hike
Gear: Ice axe
Map: USGS Mount Howard
Area: Stevens Pass
Reference: 100 Hikes in Washington's Glacier Peak Region: The North Cascades
Stats: 7.6mi, 3525' gain (round trip)

Rock Mountain...I've seen this TH every time I drive over Hwy2. I've been up most of the trails to Nason Ridge but somehow never did this trail. I was looking for something adventurous (more miles and gain than I'd been used to in a while) and Jim suggested Rock Mtn. I knew it would be steep but sheesh...!

The trail starts out just under the power lines on the north side of Hwy (east side of the crest). The hum of the power lines was pretty loud at first but the quick elevation gain quickly but the noise below us. The trail is old road at first...then real trail. Since my surgery steep trail has been hard. This trail was going to be a challenge for me. The trail pretty narrow in some sections, lots of switchback, and always steep (but then it probably just seemed steep since I was still getting used to the new knees). Overall though, the trail is in good shape.

Lots of flowers were out down low bits of snow appearing higher up. The trail is very open down low and it was hot. The breeze was welcome. Higher up the open slopes made way for forest and it's about here that the grade of the trail eased up some. Scarlet gilia, lupine, paintbrush, wild roses, and some tiger lilies were out.

Just shy of 6000' is where the snow started, spotty at first and it was easy to find and follow the trail. Higher up the snow patches got bigger. Eventually it was just easier to stop looking for the trail and just make our own way. Jim was up ahead and leading the way and chose to stay on the ridge.

Eventually we reached the ridge to the west of Rock Lake (near the junction with the Nason Ridge Trail). The summit was in sight and the ridge to the top was nearly completely snow covered. I found a nice exposed rock under some trees and decided to call it quits here. My knees weren't used to this kind of gain. Jim wanted to continue on to the top so off he went. My lunch perch was perfect. A warm rock, nice views, and lots of glacier lilies to keep me company.

I know the Snowy Creek trail reached the Rock Mtn summit from the other side of the ridge. Might have to give that trail a go someday.

Jim eventually came back down from Rock Mtn and then we began the steepish descent back down to the car.
Rock Mountain Slideshow

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Copyright 2013 Janet M. Putz
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