Mutton Mountain (Feb 7, 2016)

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mutton_mtn_coverConditions: Day hike/snowshoe
Gear: snowshoes
Map: USGS Noble Knob
Area: Greenwater, WA
Reference: n/a
Stats: 11.07mi, 3384' gain (round trip)

SteveF, DebF, SteveL, and I decided to head down towards MRNP for a snowshoe trip. The avy forecast improved late Saturday from orange (considerable) to yellow (moderate). Still...given that conditions were somewhat elevated we decided to pick a destination and route that offered some "protection" (trees). SteveF suggested Mutton Mtn. I'd never done the trip so I was game.

We met in Seattle about 7:15am, consolidated into one car, and started the drive south. The "trailhead" is off Hwy 410. It appears to be a gravel road with lots of private property (cabins) and little parking. The road was icy and slick so we parked down low, just off of 410 and walked the gravel road to the start of the trail.

Most of the route to Mutton Mtn is treed and is steep. The trip to the planned highpoint would gain over 3000' just to gain the ridge. The trail down low was mostly free of snow. All of us were surprised by this. All of us were expecting much more snow. least with all the gear we were carrying (shovels, ice axes, snowshows) most of it would be "training weight". We were able to follow the summer trail the whole way to the ridge. A couple of times we lost it under the snow but we never strayed far from it. We carried snowshoes until about 5000' when the snow finally became deep enough to use them. Up to this point...there was probably less than 1ft of snow on the ground.

We decide to call it quits on the bump betwee, Pt 6176 and Mutton Mtn. We had got a late start and we knew we'd be pushing darkness on the way down. So when we popped out of the trees and reached a nice viewpoint along the ridge, we decided it was a good turnaround point. We had been following tracks of another party uphill and it was at this spot that they joined us and chatted for a bit as they came back from Mutton Mtn.

We had great views from out spot, Rainier which was socked in early in the morning, was out. We has some pretty stunning views in all directions. We could even see the top of Adams pocking out from behind a lesser peak that had most of its flanks blocked.

We didn't linger too long. About 3pm it was time to head down so off we went. Snowshoes stayed on longer on the decent, they helped with sliding on slick parts of the trail. We reached the car just before 5:30pm and with just enough daylight that we didn't need to pull out headlamps.

Notes: Down low there are several blowdowns across the trail. Easy enough to crawl over or under or find a way around them. GPS track went pretty wonky in the trees and these stats are after cleaning up the track but the numbers are likely still a bit off (probably high).
Mutton Mountain Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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