Friday, September 11, 2009

Iron Peak, September 8, 2009

Iron Peak (Teanaway, Alpine Lakes Wilderness) September 8, 2009

Iron Peak is one of my all-time favorite hikes. It’s only about 7 miles round trip to the Iron Peak saddle (8 miles round trip to the summit).

The trail is in excellent condition and with views the entire way. We only encountered two people (mid-week); bow and arrow hunters on horseback. The flowers are just about gone but the views are as outstanding as ever.

The trail is partially in the forest – alas, so much of the forest has been devastated by infestations of pine bark beetles. Trees that were once green are now mahogany-colored – the beetles mostly seem to be attacking white pines and lodge pole pine in this region. Fire resistant Douglas firs seem able to resist the onslaught, at least along the lower to middle elevations of this trail.

It was a perfect day for hiking – sunny, warm and clear. We stopped at the “pass”, marveling at the array of colors in the rocks. From the pass we continued another half mile or so to the summit where the views of Mount Stuart and Mount Rainier are startlingly clear.

Here Florida Bob and Silverback signed their first summit registers. The summit register was pretty full; this is a popular and accessible summit. I was glad the register was there for them to sign – I remember what a thrill it was to sign a summit register the first time.

We lingered as long as we could, snacking, lazing and admiring the beauty surrounding us. Between the pass and the summit we saw bluebirds, ladybugs, lichen-splattered rocks, remnants of summer flowers, endemic ferns still blooming in the golden rocks along the summit ridge.

It had been a perfect, golden day.

Approach: Teanaway River Road (Road No. 9737), Iron Peak trailhead (just short of the Esmerelda/Ingalls Lake parking lot at the end of the road).

Stats: About 8 miles round trip, 2,700 feet gain – map (Green Trails No. 209, Mount Stuart).

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