Saturday, June 07, 2014

Crown Mountain triangle hike

Crown Mountain is still covered in snow
Normally, I would climb the peak.
Saturday it was different.
The Front is really loaded with snow, so it was time to revisit an old friend at a lower, more passable elevation.
I  re-hiked a classic Front "triangle" trails that begins on the Crown Mountain Trail No. 270 that wraps around the east flank of Crown Mountain, connecting to the Petty Creek Trail No. 232, and then back to my starting point at the Crown Mountain Trailhead via the Ford Creek Trail No. 244. It had been more than 10 years since I did this hike, although I did a variation of it on backcountry skis several years ago.
Ford Creek Double Falls
This trip begins by climbing a little more than 1,000 feet to that east flank where snow covered Crown and surrounding smaller peaks really show off. Then, it comes down quickly into the headwaters of Petty Creek that drains Crown, traveling through thick old-growth forest that finally opens to a glorious meadow, where the Ford Creek trail intersects.  The climb resumes to an open ridge surrounded by snowy peaks, ascending to a small saddle and finally, into Ford Creek itself.
The Crown (Whitewater) section had several patches of snow and one fairly sizable avalanche slide.  The Petty Creek section's upper section was fairly packed with snow and lots of deadfall.  Gosh, I wished the trail crew had been through.  There is a large section of cascades and the creek needs to be crossed and re-crossed several times.  I found good ways to cross without getting my feet wet.
The open meadow where the Ford Creek trail intersects was spangled by purple larkspur.
When I reached Ford Creek, it was raging and I didn't want to cross it.  So I moved upstream and to my great surprise found the vaunted Double Falls.  All these years I had mistaken several cascades downstream for Double Falls.  I sure felt foolish.  These are sizable falls and with spring runoff, they were roaring.
I worked my way uphill around the top of the falls an discovered a road and summer cabins and found my way back to my car.
My GPS indicated I had walked 9 miles and gained and lost some 2,100 feet of elevation.
Glacier lilies were the dominant flower, although there was a sizable population of fairy slippers (calypso) sprinkled throughout.  I was quite surprised by the numbers for this relatively rare and shade-loving plant.

No comments: