Teannaway- just off the path
This trip was nothing special but was so perfect and relaxing I need to share it. Jtack and I showed up in separate vehicles at the Esmerelda trail-head on Thursday evening and had a wonderful sit-about around a fire ring with lawn chairs and beers. We intended to sleep in, but the sun woke us up, each in our own pickup bed, earlier than necessary. Once we stepped onto the trail, we didn't see another person for over 24 hours. We walked up to Long's Pass, a trail that has a bad reputation but is really quite pleasant, and then turned south to follow the ridge that separates the Esmerelda drainage from the Turnpike drainage. This ridge is well traveled for a quarter mile, and then evidence of people passage stops. We walked about 1.5 miles south along this ridge until we found a fantastic camp spot within spitting distance of the two remaining snow-filled paths into the Turnpike Creek valley.
The Friday Snowpatch:
We had viewed this drainage in May when we skied what I now know is called the "wall slot", and we were hopeful that there would still be snow.
Iron Peak/Turnpike Basin in late May:
We were sort of right. On our first run, we got a legitimate 500 feet of (not exaggerating) perfect corn, followed by a pretty gimmicky 400 feet of narrow (NARROW) snow slot and rock and heather skiing. We intended to ski it once, walk across a plateau to a ridge, and climb back to our camp spot, but the skiing was so good we changed plans and booted back up the steep snow to the ridge so we could do it again.
Speaking of steep, we checked the slope incline periodically with our various phone slope measurement apps and both found that most slopes on both sides of this ridge were about 38 degrees. What is special about 38 degrees? Is this the angle of repose, the angle of erosion debris? Anyway, after our second lap on that fantastic 900 foot finger of snow, we switched to sneakers and started walking up what looked like a reasonable scree/small tree slope toward camp. Holy unpleasant uphills! It was a two whippet frenzy to get to the top of this loose pile of rock. The snow route was way safer. Lesson learned.
The ridge south of Long's Pass:
View from camp down Ingalls Creek looking directly east toward downtown Wenatchee
On Saturday, we skied a shorter, almost novelty pitch into the same drainage, but closer to Long's Pass.
Since leaving the parking lot, we still hadn't crossed paths with anyone. Sneaks back on, and back to the trail, we started passing people. In the hour and a half that we walked from Long's Pass to the parking lot, I counted that we crossed paths with SEVENTY FOUR people.
We sat for social hour (for about an hour) in the parking lot - this was Saturday from 11:00am to noon - and loosely counted 90 people coming and going. On the drive out, I counted 170 vehicles . It was a nuts.
I think this is the first year I've seen overflow parking at the Esmerelda TH, but I've seen it three times this spring. What is going on?
This ski we did was fantastic, as was our camp spot. I think if you want to do similar, you should wait til next spring, as we were a week late for both our lines. It was awesome to be secluded from the crowds so close to the parking lot.
That ridge separating Turnpike and Esmerelda was an unlikely place for flowers and critters, so I was taken by the ground cover. To heal up from the parking mess, here are some nice flower pictures from that ridge: