Mt. Stuart from Longs Pass
The forecast was for another set of sunny days. Perfect opportunity for another fall hike. Our hiking buddies are off on Monday so we gave them a call and they wanted to come. Hmm... where to go. The Seattle Times highlighted a hike in the Teanaway area that we had not done yet - Longs Pass. It was a bit of a drive but with the forecast of sun - it would be perfect.
We picked up our friends and were on the way by 8:30am. The normal Monday morning rush hour traffic getting out of the city but by 11:00 we were at the trailhead at Esmeralda Basin. Whoa - was it cold! It is only about 4200 feet but it was definitely chilly. I pulled on another layer and a vest. I didn't bring my gloves or winter hat so I needed to get moving.
You start along the Esmeralda Basin Trail #1394. This is part of an old mining road and climbs besides the creek running up to the end of the basin. After about 1/4 mile, you cross a small creek and come to the junction of the Ingalls Way Trail #1390 which leads to the Longs Pass Trail. This trail switch backs through the open forest littered with moss and leaves before emerging to the open slopes below Longs Pass. The vistas open up to Esmeralda Peak, basin and Fortune Pass. At about 2 miles you come to the junction for Longs Pass. Here the trail gets serious and climbs 600ft in 1/2 mile. It was also getting colder. We could see frost along the side raising up the soil with the spiky crystals. The way is mostly through serpentine and red rock. The blue sky is broken by the white snags. Thankfully it is cold. It would be hell hot on a summer day.
After about 2 hours, we reach the top and Mt. Stuart appears in all its glory. It is the second highest non-volcanic peak in Washington at 9,415 ft. The slope is dotted with golden larches tumbling into the Ingalls Creek Valley. The boys continue on up to the right to see the views and I decide to stay back and wait for lunch. Lunch was quite yummy - cheese sandwiches on homemade cinnamon bread and lemon orzo salad. G brought along a soda as a surprise which I really enjoyed but it made me very cold. I had to get up and walk around to warm up. G gave me some gloves that he had and I found a sunny warm spot on the rocks below where I waited for the boys to finish lunch.
We said goodbye to the mountain and headed down. It took half the time to make it back. We needed to make it over Snoqualmie Pass by 6:00pm since they were closing the road for repairs. The shadows lengthened and we were on our way. Another glorious fall hike.
Wild Turkeys seen on the Teanaway Road on the way to the trailhead