Cutthroat Pass (Oct 5, 2019)

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cutthroat_pass_coverConditions: day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Washington Pass
Area: North Cascades (Rainy Pass)
Reference: Day Hiking North Cascades
Stats: 11.18mi, 2369' gain (round trip)

I wanted to get out. I was since the past two weekends and with it being larch season...I just had to get out. I reached out to Dani and she volunteered Tom! Ha! I checked with him and he was planning to head up to Cutthroat Pass. That was find. I love that place. I knew it might be a bit early for the best color and I knew we'd see snow.

We got an early start leaving town at 5am. We were at the Rainy Pass trailhead (4889') and hiking by about 8am. Usually that first stretch of trail is frigid color this time of year but today wasn't too bad. There were some low clouds but my hope was that it would clear a bit.

The trail is above the road (hwy 20) the first mile or so before it turns to the right and heads up Porcupine Creek. Most of this trail is in tall trees. At about 3.6mi (6211') the trail hits the lower basin and the bottom of the switchbacks. The larch trees down low were just starting to turn color...barely lime green. We reached the pass at about 5mi (6837'). Snow wasn't too bad...not even deep enough that a trench was beat in. Winds were moderate. We decided to continue north a bit on the PCT and I decided to turn around at just past the point where the trail rounds the ridge and heads below the steep cliffs on the way over to the Granite Pass overlook, From here we tried to find a place a bit protected form the wind where we could stop for lunch. We ended up backtracking towards the pass and finding a calm spot stopped for lunch. We didn't stay too long...our fingers were going numb from the cold so we decided to head back down.

We say maybe a dozen through hikers still heading north. Some (a minority) seemed prepared for the last stretch. Others, like the waterproof sock and Chaco with shorts and tiny overnight pack wearing was cringe worthy. I suspect she (and a few other of the lightly prepared through hikers) were prepared for the snow they'd encounter around Harts Pass.

The early start paid off, I was home in time for dinner!
Cutthroat Pass Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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