Thursday, December 16, 2010

Scotty Creek Exploration - 12.15.10

Adam was interested in heading back to the Swauk Pass region where I had been during the weekend. I showed him few topo maps and we thought it would be a fun adventure to see if there was ice.

We got a fairly early start and arrived at the Sno Park around 8:30 am. There was not nearly as much snow as driving up on Saturday. We donned snowshoes and headed down the road. This time we were going to head downhill toward Scotty Creek. We also had the advantage that the trail was packed with some previous snowmobile traffic which made walking easier. Off the trail was horrible breakable crust conditions which impeded movement.

On the way down to the valley we passed a few small streams. While it was cold enough for ice formation, none of the streams were icy. And they were also too low of an angle to make sense to climb even if they were. Within an hour we arrived at Scotty Creek. While it is a named watercourse on the map, it is little more than a three foot wide low flow creek. It too was not icy. We followed the road a bit and came upon some mountain lion tracks in the road. The tracks appeared to be used a few times, but perhaps for only one trip back and forth. We followed the tracks into the woods a bit where they went to a 4" log to cross Scotty Creek. While it would have been tempting to follow them to a den, I am not a big fan of disturbing wildlife, especially if it could threaten my own life.

We turned around and started to head back. But we had decided to follow a watercourse up to see if it would produce ice at any point. We snowshoed through the woods taking turns to break trail. We found a short section of about twenty feet that would have made a nice easy WI2 climb, but it was just running water. Perhaps the recent Pineapple Express washed away any ice that had formed and these creeks were starting over again? As we went higher, we started to see some rock pinnacles, so we headed to them. We first crossed a road and then investigated the pinnacles.

It turns out these are the Swauk Pinnacles and they had some routes on them. Adam and I contemplated climbing one since we had a rope and draws, but when then sun went away, it became much less appealing. We then attempted to hike back using the road we had found. It was heading slightly downhill, and did not have the packed surface our previous road had, so the going was a little more energy consuming. At one point the road forked. We opted for the left fork which went uphill while the right fork continued downhill. This proved to be a bit of a mistake because in ten minutes the road appeared to end. We opted to try some cross country travel to make it back to the car. This tactic involved attempting to gain a ridge and then side hilling until we made the ridge top a mile or so further. Once on the ridge top going was a little easier but we were getting tired and wanted a familiar sight. After a few hours, we made it back to the road and had a half mile hike out.

Even though the search for ice proved fruitless, we enjoyed finding the rock pinnacles. It was also a fun exercise in cross country travel. We definitely got a workout as well. I was enamored with the mountain lion tracks too. There were also many other tracks we saw in the snow, some we could identify and some we couldn't. One set was possibly ermine tracks. I look forward to hitting the pinnacles in the summer.

Some pics here.

No comments: