Driveway Butte (May 19, 2012)

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driveway_butte_coverConditions: Day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Robinson Mountain, USGS Silver Star Mountain
Area: Mazama
Reference: 100 Hikes in Washington's North Cascades National Park Region
Stats: 7.25mi, 2549' gain (round trip)

Tried to get some takers on this trip, I can understand the reluctance, it's a long drive but oh what a nice trail.

Trail starts down low, in dense forest but doesn't waste any time gaining elevation. It's about 2100' in the first two miles. Yikes. Down low it was awesome...saw lots of chocolate lilies. A bit higher up in the open...gazillions of Balsam Root colored the hillside yellow. The trail is frustrating at times. It's a bit steep at times and narrow but boy in places is the trail narrow, steep and out sloped all at the same time. You'd tumble a ways if you slipped on the hardpack...

About 2.5 miles up the trail the grade eases up a bit, the trail now high enough that there is some relief and views of the surrounding peaks. Lots of snow still up high!

GPS said that at 2.7 miles I crossed a stream and entered the burn area. The 100 hikes book says "dense forest" but that forest is long gone. Just charcoal colored burnt snags as far at the eye can see. Still pretty sooty too. Several small trees down across the "trail", easy enough to step over. On the way out I spent some time snappy off branches trying to make it easier to travel.

At 3 miles I the snow was like BAM...consistent. At first only about 2-3 foot deep...then more like 5 or 6 foot deep. I could hear running streams under the snow here and there but the "trail" was easy enough to follow by making a bee-line for the saddle SW of the butte. Snow was pretty well consolidated (I didn't have snowshoes or microspikes).

I had the trail to myself the entire day. I was surprised to not run into another person all day. Nice for a change. I got to a bit over 3.5+ miles in and found myself staring down into a log and snow covered gully of sorts. I was already punching through the snow. Traveling knees...I just didn't want to risk a slip and getting myself banged up. Who knew when one of the post holes could be one where I'd sprain an angle, gash my leg, tweak a knee. Seemed safer to call it a day and enjoy the sun while it lasted...and it was clouding over fast.

I backtracked to a nice viewpoint back in an area that wasn't burned for lunch enjoying the solitude. Then it was a quick trip back down to the car.
Driveway Butte Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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