Canyon Ridge (Oct 19, 2014)

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canyon_ridge_coverConditions: day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Bearpaw Mountain
Area: Glacier, WA
Reference: Day Hiking North Cascades
Stats: 6.98mi, 2206' gain (round trip)

Stefan had some time constraints so the plan for this hike was to car camp at the TH on Saturday evening and then get up before the birds. He needed to be back at the TH by 11am.

So I got to the TH (4262') first...dark... The road is in decent shape. I took it slower in the dark wanting to watch out for the low clearance on the Jetta and avoid the potholes. I arrived about 8:30pm. It was a little uncomfortable until Stefan arrived (just before 9pm) because right after I arrived and turned of the engine I could head what was obviously a couple of drunk hunters shouting my way "Hey Border Patrol...honest...we aren't doing anything illegal". I could see their two headlamps coming my direction. I was hoping there wouldn't be trouble. There was no reason for them to approach me since I was the only car in the lot. My plan was to sleep in the back of the Jetta. I turned off the lights inside the car and watched the idiots approach. They came up right next to my car...shined their lights inside...and yelled "she's in there!" I knew Stefan would be arriving soon. I hoped these guys would be gone by then. They hung around a bit, then I could hear their drunken laugher as they disappeared back down the road. Sheesh...In my nearly 20 years of hiking in WA, this was the first time I felt vulnerable.

Stefan arrived, we chatted for a while watching the sky alternate between clear enough to see the Milky Way...and clouds. Finally, both of us retreated to our cars and tried to sleep. I kept hoping the drunken idiots would stay away. Thankfully they did.

Morning arrived a bit too early. At 5:15am my alarm went off. I popped out of the car, got a bit to eat, and then by headlamp we headed up the trail. It's a bit strange at first hiking in the dark but after a short while we settled into a good pace as we followed the Boundary Trail towards Pt 5408. The trail first heads up to a junction just shy of Damfino Lakes (.63mi, 4514') and then heads NW to another junction (.98mi, 4739') where we stayed left. The trail heads to a minor saddle just east of Pt 5224 and then continues uphill towards Pt 5408. The USGS map shows the trail ending just past our target. I've never been out that way but wonder if a boot path continues along the ridge. When we were just north of Pt 5408 Stefan found a boot path to carry us the last little bit to the high point. The sun was rising but heavy and dark low clouds blocked the best of the color. Still...it was nice. We stopped for a short summit breakfast and then headed back downhill retracing our steps to that minor saddle east of Pt 5224. From here it was off trail towards Cowap Pk.

The hillside is steep, there is no boot path. Lots of veggie grabs to help pull myself uphill. We got on the ridge (nice views and good exposure on the southeast side) and continued up towards the high point of Cowap Pk. I baulked just shy of the summit. In hindsight I should have just taken a bit of a break and let my nerves settle down. Instead, we decided to backtrack a bit and head down the SE side of the ridge to more gentle terrain and then circle around to approach from the more gentle (walkup) NE side. A bit of crappy sidehilling ensued... I'd been to the top of Cowap in 2010 and Stefan was on a tight schedule. In some nice meadows less than 400' from the top I decided to bail. Stefan continued on to the top and was back in short order. Even recovering from a knee injury he's still faster than I am :)

There are tons and tons and tons of blueberries in these meadows. The bears must have missed this whole area. We stopped and searched for some that weren't quite so mushy and they still had good flavor. They'll be over and done with in the next couple of days. We followed the pack trail back towards the junction with the Boundary Way trail and by about 10:35am we were back at the cars.
 
Canyon Ridge Slideshow

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