Sauk Mountain (Sep 27, 2013)

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sauk_mtn_coverConditions: Day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Sauk Mountain
Area: Rockport, WA
Reference: Day Hiking North Cascades
Stats: 3.91mi
, 1301' gain (round trip)

I had a three day was moving in on Friday...could I fit in a hike before the worst of the weather hit? That's what was going through my mind. I settled on Sauk Mountain. It's short and relatively easy.

I headed out towards Rockport heading east on 20, then turning left on FS1030 just before Rockport State Park. The road goes up, up, up, coming to an and at a trailhead parking area and viewpoint at about 4510' (7.5mi from Hwy 20). It was about 10:30am on a Friday and it looked like I was going to have the place to myself. Swirling clouds, the occasionally spit of slush from the sky. The forecast called for a transition of snow to rain at about 11am.

I shuffled around the bit of gear I had stuffing what I was planning to take (mainly warm clothes) into a plastic bag that was inside the backpack. Might be a challenge saying dry today. On went the Gore-Tex jacket and OR Seattle Sombrero hat (I love this hat in the rain...) I signed in at the TH register and noticed that so far, I was the only one nutz enough to hike up Sauk today. Then up the trail I headed. It wasn't raining. About 10 minutes from the car I got a nice blast of slush and wind. It looked like this year we were going to skip right over Fall and head straight into Winter.

The trail switches back many times up a steep open hillside. Only a couple of times does the trail head into the trees for a short stretch. I'd pause here a bit to take some photos before continuing up.

It looked like the area got a good dusting of snow the previous night. In a few spots along the open slope the slush covered the trail. Was fun seeing fresh snow falling down. Near where the trail crosses over the south ridge of Sauk Mtn the slush transitioned into a full on mini snow flurries. Wow...still September and it was cold and felt like Winter outside.

I continued on up the east side of the mountain to the junction where the trail over to Sauk Lake splits off. Hmm...maybe head over there on the way out??? Summit first... I continued up. Temps were right in that transition zone, snow was falling but it wouldn't take much of a change for it all to melt. The trail pretty much leads all the way up to the top. Today no views, just those of the inside of clouds. Less than an inch of new snow at the top.

I didn't stay long. The wind was kicking up and if the temps really changed (warming up a few degrees) I would get caught in a real downpour. I retraced my steps to the junction and decided to leave the lake to a day with better weather. Rounding the corner back to the west slopes and the switchbacks back down to the trailhead I could see Gertie in the mist (my Jetta) parked at the trailhead. Looked like I really was the only one out on the mountain today.

About 10 minutes from the car I got hit was a real downpour. The only real rain I saw all day. Back at the car it was a real race to get everything stowed quickly so the inside of the car didn't get power washed with the rain.

Nice fun and easy trip. Was really nice seeing the fresh snow. This was my first trip up Sauk and I know I'll return at some point with nicer weather so I can enjoy the views.
Sauk Mountain Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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