Had planned to do Bare Mountain earlier this fall but was thwarted by downed power lines following a wind storm so when a friend asked where we should go this week I suggested Bare Mountain and he agreed. After a long ride to the trailhead, passing through a major logging operation, we set out on very rocky tread, crossing countless small streams as we headed into the Bear Creek Valley. The day started out slightly overcast but the temperature was comfortable for hiking. We were soon at Bear Creek and after crossing on two small logs we soon crossed it again, this time on a bridge. We needed to be mindful of our footing during these early stages due to ice and rocks. At about 3300 feet we came upon the first snow but it was easily hiked as it was very compact; unfortunately, this would soon give way to a lot more snow on trail with a southern exposure and the warming solar rays made for slow going as we were post-holing every other step (note to self: do not listen to self and decide to leave snowshoes in car). The way up the mountain would have been much more pleasant if we were on the snow's surface rather than exploring its deeper recesses but the views which began to be revealed to us were making up for it. Just below the summit the way became quite challenging as, except for a few rocks in a small patch of heather and some krummholz, the final ascent required kicking steps into an often frozen, almost vertical, snow-covered slope. We made it to the summit, however, and the 360 degree views on a mostly clear and sunny day were well worth the effort: Baker, Rainier, and Glacier were the three titans of a panorama that contained too many peaks to count, let alone name. After a quick snack, the obligatory summit snapshot, and a prayer asking for safety on the descent, we headed down. The view from above made the way down appear quite precarious as there was not much room for error with little room to self-arrest if we slipped. With ice-axe in hand, we slowly headed down. The steps we had kicked in the ice and snow during the ascent were not always providing the purchase needed for our feet so we added some hand holds for our free hands and kicked a bit harder into the ice-crusted snow. After an arduous ascent, the descent proved to be even more of a challenge but, in time, we regained the trail began the post-holed journey down Bare. The slowness of travel due to the snow necessitated our pulling out the headlamps at about 3300 feet for the final mile or so. This made the passage along the rock strewn trail, now icy in many places, an ankle twisting, knee wrenching challenge we would have preferred to have done without, especially when you added in a couple of stream crossings complicated due to ice and darkness. Thankfully, we survived sans incident and soon were headed to a post-hike repast but not before passing a few deer and an elk on the way.
Bare Mountain Snow Scramble, 11/26/13, 8 miles • 3250' elevation gain • 7.5 hours
Welcome to Pacific Northwest Outdoor Adventures
Getting there: Take I-90 to Exit 31, North Bend. Head north on Hwy 202 (Bendigo Way or North Bend Blvd). Turn Right onto North Bend Way then go three blocks to Ballarat Avenue and take a left. Ballarat will change names a number of times. It will bear right as SE 108th Street then become NE 12th Street. Bear left onto 428th Ave SE (Pickett Ave NE if you go right). Take 428th for about 17 miles. It will become North Fork Rd SE and change names a few times but stay on the road. At about the 17th mile you will see a Dead End sign on a road leading up a hill to your left. It is otherwise unsigned. This is NF Rd 57. Stay with this for 23 miles. After crossing Lennox Creek it will fork to the right. This will be the first time you see a sign indicating NF 57. Take it to the end. Trailhead is on your left. Note: Active logging operations are taking place and you may need to wait for trucks to load. Soon as there is an opening you will be waved through but if you are too slow.... Overall, the road is in pretty good shape. My Scion XB managed without a problem (okay, so I got a flat). Elk and deer are known to use the roads so be careful at dawn and dusk.
So you made it to the summit, took the obligatory panoramic photo, and are on your way back home. Stomach is probably growling (I know mine is). I head for the North Bend Bar and Grill. The food is really good and you will leave satisfied. Prices are reasonable and service has always been above par. Can get busy on the weekends with the Mt Si crowd but definitely worth the visit. Too much on the menu is good for a detailed review but the jambalaya has never disappointed. The onion rings are just greasy enough to slide down. Tell them Ken sent you (they will have no idea who I am so you should still be treated well).
Want to see what others have to say about this scramble/hike? Try the WTA or SummitPost.org for more information.