Yellow Aster Butte (Sep 10-11, 2011)

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yellow_aster_butte_coverConditions: backpack
Gear: overnight gear
Map: USGS Mount Shuksan
Area: Mt Baker
Reference: 100 Hikes in Washington's North Cascades National Park Region
Stats: 10.75mi, 3166' gain (round trip)


A return trip to one of my favorite easy backpack destinations!

Same route as the last time...drive up Twin Lakes Road until the sharp switchback in the road (beyond here the road quality deteriorates rapidly, gets sketchy at best and continues on to Twin Lakes and the TH for Winchester LO).

The trail is steep for a short section. Then...ugh...open in moderate height brush that seems to go on FOREVER. Then back into the woods for a very pleasent deep forest hike. Eventually the trail winds around into the area below (south) of Gold Run Pass. This area is beautiful. Lots of flowers, beautiful scenery. The area is just spectacular. I hiked past the marker indicating the junction and trail that continues on up to the pass and down to Tomyhoi Lake. I continued the traverse around the basin. The views improved with each step. Bits of snow lingered up high along the trail where it rounds the south ridge/shoulder of the bump to the SW of YAB. A bit tedious getting through it but once around this section the lower YAB tarns come into view. Wow.

I continued on the trail down the steepish section to the lower tarns. I didn't see another tent in the area. I'd pretty much have my choice of spots. I found a site tucked along the edge of some trees off the tarns. I didn't want to be around the tarns if someone was coming in later. I was looking for an exisitng site a bit more hidden, quite, secluded...

I spent the afternoon and early evening wandering around, photographing the tarns, rocks, flowers. It's a great are to relax and enjoy the sites.

The next morning, I was in no rush. I packed up and did the mini grunt up the short section of steep switchbacks and dropped my pack at the junction. I had some time to explore those upper tarns. Some still had a good amount of snow floating around like mini icebergs. The views north to the border peaks was gorgeous. A short time was spent dipping my feet into the ice cooled water of one of the upper tarns. Then reluctantly, it was time to get back to the pack and hike the rest of the way out.

I didn't see another soul out there the whole weekend. Weird. Late summer flowers (asters, paintbrush, etc) were still going strong. It was surprising to see how much snow had lingered late into the year.
 
Yellow Aster Butte Slideshow

yellow_aster_butte_map
(click on map to view a larger version)

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