I went up to the Bitter Creek Cirque “trail” again on Christmas Day.
(UPDATE: Road is now periodically opened after Lewis Creek.)
Not surprisingly mine were the only tracks heading up the snowy old road… well besides the deer and bobcat tracks.
Just before the Canyon Creek crossing I ran into the deer.
A Columbian Black Tailed Deer, no antlers. Looked pretty young.
We eyeballed each other for a minute before he bounded, well kinda plunged. Sunk maybe? His technique needed practice.
After the Nameless Creek crossing the snow became much more powdery, with frequent, sometimes deep wind deposits.
By the time I was in the switchbacks, it was starting to wear me down.
When I finally got to Bitter Creek I was out of steam.
I didn’t have much time before I had to turn around for Christmas obligations, so I sat down, had lunch and drank from the creek like a wild beast.
Christmas was calling.
Boldly drove beyond the periodic road closure (and county maintenance), all the way to the trailhead in a 2WD Mazda, admittedly not the best idea for everybody.
Immediately at the gate I was surprised to see someone had gone up the trail in my absence!
They were on snowshoes, and occasionally skis, it would seem with limited success.
I’ll level with you, the trip up was a lot easier on the ol’legs with a well beaten snowshoe track in place!
Oh, and “someone” had remembered to bring a Corona saw this time and cleared a lot of deadfall and such along the grade.
Snow started falling pretty regularly by the time we reached the switchbacks. I felt a slight twinge thinking about the car.
At Bitter Creek most hopes for any real vast scenery were dashed by the constant snow.
Homeboy’s tracks were still going, blasting right past my previous stopping point.
Beyond the end of the road began treeless terrain. A beautiful waterfall lies just before the last couple dozen feet of elevation to the cirque floor.
I continued on, following the tracks into the cirque but split ways as I headed for a high spot in the middle to get a look at the large icewall at the ESE base of the cirque.
During my visit I got a chance to catch a few avalanches coming down from the SW wall.
Long views were elusive this time around, but they’ll be there next time. We’d already surpassed our turnaround time so our stay was brief.
The trip down was about 25% in the dark, exacerbated by that slight twinge I mentioned earlier about the car. At least a couple of inches had fallen during the course of our trip.
There would be digging, of this I was sure.
Really it wasn’t too much of a pain in the ass. I only had to dig to get us turned around, and again when we got a little high centered going up a hill.
Can’t wait until my Subaru gets out of the shop!
THE BOTTOM LINE
Prep work’s done, Jack: At least until the next storm cycle there is a solid snowshoe track well into Bitter Creek Cirque.
Lotsa Wildlife: I’ve seen animals every time I’ve visited, still haven’t seen the bobcat yet though.
No Crowds: Oh wait, except for the visitor on Friday or Saturday. Thanks for breaking the rest of the way!
Beyond Me: I don’t know a thing about ice climbing, but that ice wall might be worth a visit.
Anyway, shouldn’t have to tell you but: this is avalanche country!
As always check NWAC before heading off into the mountains in these winter months