Carne Mountain (Sep 30, 2017)

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carne_mtn_coverConditions: Day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Trinity
Area: Entiats
Reference: 100 Hikes in Washington's Glacier Peak Region: The North Cascades
Stats: 7.59mi, 3605' gain (round trip)

Finally...a return trip to Carne Mtn! The weather wasn't looking the best. The forecast said today was the day to go (tomorrow wouldn't have a chance of sun) and after 11am there could be some precip (snow showers). I got up early (4am) and was out of the house by 5am. It took about 3 hours to get to the Phelps Creek trailhead. It's been a while since I've drive to the TH (the last time I was there in Oct-2013)  I wasn't a driver). In the past few years this road has really gone bad. I remember the rocky spot near the horse trailer turnaround being the tough spot. Now...that's actually one of the better spots. It looks like some heavy rains have eroded some gullies along the length of the road in 3-4 spots. Deep gullies. My 4Runner had no problem getting to the trailhead but I doubt a low clearance car would have a chance getting to the TH intact.

So, I got to the trailhead (3543') , parked the car, and did my gear check. I was headed up the trail early and it was chilly. Fall has definitely arrived.

This trail doesn't cut you any slack. It looks to follow and old roadbed for about 1/10mi to the Carne Mtn trail. Once on the Carne Mtn trail it is up, up, up...steeply up. It's a forest hike at first but after about 2.1mi (5386') I finally popped out to open views. Most of the lower parts of the trail look like it needs some help. The trail is slowly slumping downhill. Once out in the open, between snow squalls, I could see lots of color in all directions! This is why I headed to Carne Mtn!

At about 2.9mi (6157') I reached Carne Basin. The larch trees are just starting to hint at changing color. To me they seem to change to a bright green color right before they change...I call it limeade. I found a nice rock along the trail in the basin to take a short break to get a snack. I didn't linger long, I wanted to make it to the summit before the weather turned. I continued on up the few switchbacks to the ridge. Along this stretch of trail there was one lurking larch that had gone full on gobsmack gold. Most of the other trees were still mostly green. The further up the ridge they had a hint of yellow. Once on the ridge the larch were definitely changing.

I continued on up to the top of Carne. The color of the ground plants was really interesting...reds, oranges, greens, browns, whites... It looked like the summit ridge was under the blanket of a calico quilt. I reached the top just as a small snow squall quit and left a beautiful blue sucker hole. The clouds lifted over the Rock Creek drainage and on over towards Ice Lakes and Mt Maude. I found the summit register, signed it, then stopped for a quick food break. A few other hikers appeared just as I was finishing up and by then my hands were getting cold...time to head down to the basin to finish my lunch.

Some heavy snow flurries hit on my way back down to the basin coating the trees and ground in a faint dusting of fresh!

I took another short break at my snack rock...then time to head back down to the car.

By next weekend...the larch will be at peak color :)
Carne Mountain Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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