Cashmere Mountain (8501')
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The climb of Mount Cashmere is one I had attempted once before, but, I had turned around due to the poor snow that day. After climbing McClellan and Little Annapurna I wanted more of the Enchantments. So, before a weekend family camping trip I headed for the Eightmile Lake trailhead.
The trail starts off easy as it meanders along the valley floor and heads toward Eightmile Lake. After around three miles there is a small trail junction off to you your right and a sign for trout creek. Take this junction to head uphill and meet Lake Caroline. From this cutoff is where the real climbing of Mount Cashmere begins.
Thanks to this being the Enchantments, the trail is well cut the entire way and makes for an “easy” walk. It is a little steep and the sun bearing down can be a burden. Go early to avoid dehydration and take it slow. Other than that just follow the path and you will do fine. Eventually, the trail will pass a second lake and head uphill toward Windy Pass.
As you research the route for Mount Cashmere you will see sources mention heading uphill before windy pass. While this is possible, The Enchantments hold some fragile terrain. Absent snow on the ground please do not walk through the meadows. Take the time and climb to the pass. Follow the easy trail and preserve the area for future visitors.
From Windy pass the West ridge route for Mount Cashmere becomes obvious. There is a trail down the ridge that will take you to the saddle where the scrambling begins. The scramble portion is where the climb finally turns from a simple day hike to the feeling of adventure.
While cairns are clear in some spots, route finding skills will be necessary to puzzle out a route. For my route, I wrapped around the first part of Mount Cashmere about 100 feet. After crossing a small snowfield I headed straight up the side and worked my way around several of the false summits.
I had read that there would be a few 4th class moves required to make the summit of Cashmere Mountain. But, I felt underwhelmed by the scrambling for this peak. What I encountered felt like high class 3 at best. The worst part was the many trails heading in every direction. Deciding which ones to follow got irritating. Instead, I continued to head up and around false summits ignoring trails and cairns. After three or four false summits, the real summit was clear when you reach it.
The most entertaining part of the day was near the top. Just below the summit was a huge mass of red piles. From far away I assumed that it was algae. But, As I neared them it turned out to be piles of ladybugs. After researching a bit I found this article explaining that they were mating. Why at 8500 ft? I do not have an answer, but the spectacle was astonishing. There had to be thousands up there.
The climb of Mount Cashmere was not the most interesting climb of my life. In fact, had it not been a Bulger I would be remiss to take on the 17 mile 1 day challenge. If you are looking for an easy scramble and intro to the world of Bulgers, give it a shot. Come for the views, solitude and sense of what Bulger climbing is all about. Don’t expect the climb to knock your socks off though.