After visiting Idaho for a month and getting to play around in their wilds, I headed back to Washington. I knew on the way home I would want to make a stop somewhere and see what fun I could have before heading for home. After watching the weather for an entire week I decided to head for Cannon mountain, one of the Bulger peaks.
From my research I had found a secondary route that leads from the Stuart Lake trail directly up the side of the peak. I have done Aasgard pass one too many times in life at this point, so, I figured I would give this alternate route a shot. I arrived in Leavenworth at 7pm, found myself a place to sleep and laid in anxious wait trying to sleep. I have been away from home for months at this point and the idea of tackling a Bulger kept me antsy. I managed a full nights sleep and headed for the trail head arriving at 5:30 am.
I always love arriving at these trail heads this early. There was only one other set of guys there gearing up for the day. Days like this always make it so much more serene than some of the busy summer days in the Enchantments.
I am not going to expose this route. There will not be a map linked above as usual. The reason being that this area is fragile. If you are outdoorsy and do some research you can find it too. Plus if you are that kind of person you will respect the area and watch your step. I have seen too much destruction in the wild places I love this past year, I don't want to feel like I contributed to it in any way.
From the time the route cuts off from the usual trail, it is intense. It begins to head straight up the side of Cannon Mountain and does not let up. Not even 1/4 mile off the trail there were a couple of cliff bands to navigate. If you can find the right path it is easy but know your navigation skills if you go this way. This describes the first half mile or so through the woods. Suffer through it because then the trail gets good.
When you exit the woods, there will be a massive rock field in front of you. On this occasion there was a large snow field in the center and I chose to aim for that spot. From here the views start to open up. Off to the right is the massive Mount Stuart. Off to the left stands the always glorious Mount Cashmere. The whole experience felt magnified by the complete silence of being alone. This is not a normal experience for this popular area so I soaked it in as much as I could while I climbed.
The climbing itself through here is not all that interesting. In fact, even after the top of the hill where you will turn and climb up to cannon mountain's ridge line it is a simple scarmble with an epic view. I spent my time with an ear to ear smile taking it all in and enjoying the feeling of being home.
The one interesting experience I had before Mount Cannon's ridge line was an encounter with a young goat. It's horns were tiny so it had to be young. It seemed to have zero idea what a human was either. the entire time I was working past it at a safe distance all it did was stare and munch. It seemed very curious what I was and whether I was going to approach him.
Once on Mount Cannon's ridge line is where the day got interesting. The ground became a mix of shallow frozen-solid snow and rocks. As I climbed higher finding a scrambling route became difficult. Multiple times I had to down climb and reascend. This final 500 feet or so to the summit with snow on it was very difficult and culminated in me making a couple ice climbing moves near the top. I was glad that I had my Lynx Leverlocks on and made the ascent. But, I would be very cautious if you come this way before the summer season.
During all this commotion I had failed at a basic principle of mountaineering, watching the weather. When I did finally turn around Mount Cashmere was enveloped in clouds. Worse yet, they were moving at a rapid pace in my direction. Luckily I was a mere 200 easy feet from the summit and picked up my pace.
Arriving at the summit was incredible. The core enchantments are laid out below Cannon Mountain. Even better you can see all the way out to the Stuart area. Of all the core Enchantment Bulger peaks, this obscure one has one of the prime views. I will say that I am not entirely sure which part is the summit. But I saw a rock outcropping that required a hand hold or two and seemed the highest spot.
I had planned for the day to tackle Enchantment peak as well. But, by the time I finished taking photos the storm rolling in arrived. Wind was kicking up and rain starting to fall. Instead I decided to cut my losses and head for the car. My biggest issue was that the route I came up was going to be a no go for descending. So I headed for Aasgard pass.
I made good time and was at the top of Aasgard pass within an hour and a half. The worst part of this entire day became the descent though. The wind was hitting 30-40mph and a few gusts even threatened to knock me over. More than once I laid down on my ice axe to dig in until the wind died down again. Coming down that pass was a tough hour.