Hike Mt Lillian 10/15

A difficult-to-navigate loop hike around Mt Lillian led us high on a ridge with unique views of many peaks in the Central Cascades, and on to sandstone towers looking over the Columbia Basin. Along with beauty can come peril, however...

On a totally sunny and mild October day, 13 of us, an unlucky number for sure, drove over to Blewett Pass and continued along forest roads to Haney Meadows. Those roads were already an adventure, with one section next to a sharp drop-off covered with a thin layer of snow and frost! Fortunately, our SUVs seemed to have adequate traction and we continued.

We parked at the Wilcox Horse Camp and then walked a little further along the road, noting where the trail ending our loop intersected the road. We then turned up a steep 4-wheel drive road, luckily with no vehicles, this being the first day they were prohibited until next June. That road quickly lead us on to the southern end of the Tronsen Ridge. We climbed on to several nobs with expansive views from Glacier Peak through Mt Rainier, with the Stuart range and the Enchantments in between. See the pics already posted to the website.

After a while the rough road ended at an intersection with a trail, where we met the first of maybe 20 other hikers we saw all day. Which way to turn wasn't obvious, even with my detailed map, until we consulted a trail app on a phone, with GPS showing us where we were. We took the trail in the correct direction and it lead us quickly to the Mt Lillian trail then through some woods up to Mt Lillian itself. There was a bit of snow on parts of the trail, but not enough to cause problems, and mixed in with the other trees were larches, though not quite at peak fall color. Mt Lillian itself was crowned with sandstone towers looming over the plain eastward, and we could see both Cashmere and E. Wenatchee along the Columbia. We had our lunch there, where the rock formations sheltered us from the breeze and reflected the sunshine.

On the trail back around the southern side of Mt Lillian were more confusing junctions and longer uphill grades than expected. The last section of the trail took us through a “ghost” forest, burned only 5 years ago, peppered with larches that survived the fire, now turning gold. The ground was now covered by fireweed shooting seeds in the air.

The beauty of this hike was, however, marred by an unfortunate incident which demonstrated that I had not been applying adequate safety measures to the many hikes I've been leading, even though everyone was safe in the end.  The report of the investigation of that incident is being circulated separately to the membership, and the OutVentures board plans to quickly develop and implement better safety procedures.

Submitted: 10/22/17
Article By: Himes, Rex

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