John Guilford's Hikes
Dickerman Mtn. on 1999-07-31
People: (including myself): Gene Obie, Joe Tarantino, Harry and Karen Plate, Joy, Ginger
My Alt. Real Alt. Miles
Start: 9:45 1920 1930
Short break: 11:10 4000
Falls: 11:25 4220
End lunch 1: 12:05 4320
Summit: 1:30 5600 5723 4
Leave Summit: 2:25 5600
End arrests: 3:00 5230
End snow: 4:00 4280
Out: 5:15 2000 1930 8
The NFS has a new and improved trailhead for the Dickerman Mtn. trail.
Instead of the old and small turnout that caused cars to park alongside the
road during the summer, the NFS built a new, larger, nicer parking lot and
trailhead (with outhouse) on the north side of the road a bit to the west
of the old trailhead. We found parking there without problem, though there
were already quite a few cars there.
From the trailhead, the trail immediately begins the first of fifty-six
switchbacks that climb the south-west side of Dickerman Mtn.. Despite the
forecast for morning clouds, the sun was out as we made our ascent.
Fortunately, the sun mostly behind a ridge as we climbed up. When the sun
was visible, the dense growth of trees filtered most of the sun away. This
kept things reasonably cool while going up the switchbacks.
Soon after the start, we divided up into two groups. Harry, Gene, and Joe
were ahead, and I stayed back with Joy and Karen. The hiking was pleasant
and soon views of Big Four across the valley appeared. Higher up, one can
see Vesper, Sperry, and Morningstar Peaks to the left of Big Four. Towards
the top of the switchbacks we caught up with Joe and Gene. After a break
to put on some moleskin, we continued up, soon reaching a switchback next
to a large waterfall. In the past when I've been here, the falls were
considerably smaller, but with the late snow pack, there was considerable
water flowing. Very shortly after that, we caught up with Harry where the
trail flattens out just before heading for the meadows, and just past where
we first ran into snow.
We paused there for a while to put on sunscreen (as we were now in the sun
for the most part, the sun having risen and the trees having thinned out),
put on gaiters, and eat some food. Harry had made a discovery next to a
large rock that we used as a staging area. He found a couple of Heinekin
beers that seem to have fallen down between the rock and the snow some time
before and been buried. With the melting snow they became exposed enough
that Harry noticed them. He carefully re-buried them for safe keeping
until the return trip down.
With the snow covering the ground, there were two choices for routes from
there. One route follows the normal trail around to the southwest and
through the meadows. Alternately, the other route is a more direct route
up a gully (which is unpassable due to brush without the snow cover). A
couple people coming down the gully said that they got up to the steep
part, but it was somewhat icy and they turned around. Joy and Karen
weren't sure that they wanted to go to the summit and thought that they
might wait for the rest of us in the meadows. Thus we decided to follow
the traditional trail instead of the gully. The traditional trail can be
hard to find/follow through the snow when you are mostly left to follow
footsteps. We got off the trail initially and did a little bushwhacking
before finding it again. After that it was a straightforward hike through
the compacted snow up through the meadows, which have a good view of Big
At the top end of the meadows, the trail again resumes its climbing
eventually switchbacking up to the summit. Karen and Joy went a bit
slower, but they kept going a "little bit further" till they were so close
to the summit that they "couldn't" not go all the way.
As is typical in the mid-summer, there were quite a few people on the
summit. Fortunately the summit ridge is long and there is quite a bit of
space to spread out if you want to. There was some interesting snow on the
ridge. The top of the snow was flat and horizontal. At the edge, it took
a right angle turn down to a vertical flat side. It almost looked like it
was carved with a knife.
The views were the typical excellent views, through the summits of Three
Fingers and Whitehorse were obscured by clouds. After another meal break
and some sight seeing, we started back down. Gene, Joe, and Harry wanted
to practice some ice axe self-arrests. Part way down they found a steep
enough hillside and commenced sliding and arresting while the rest of us
waited on a rock outcropping.
Continuing down, those in the lead (Gene, Joe, and Harry) decided to go
down the gully rather than through the meadows. They had expected Joy and
Karen to opt for going back the way we came up (i.e. through the meadows),
but Karen and Joy gamely went down the gully with the rest of us. It was
steeper than the route through the meadows, but I didn't think any of it
was really *that* steep. The snow was soft enough to kick pretty good
steps in if one wanted.
Several places on the way down, the slopes provided a good opportunity for
some glissading (both sitting and standing). Joy and Karen opted to plunge
step down these slopes, but the rest of us would plop down in a quick and
fun sitting glissade. I caught Harry's attention once. Sliding down a
slope, I was heading for a tree. Unbeknownst to me, there was a well
around the tree maybe 4-5 feet deep. I thought there was enough of a
run out so that I'd stop before the tree, but as I approached it, I finally
decided that I wasn't going to stop on my own, and rolled over into a self
arrest. I stopped with my feet hanging over above the tree well. I guess
Harry momentarily thought that I was going to go into the well.
Further down the gully the terrain widened out into a gentle almost bowl
shape. Gene decided to test Ginger's tracking skills. He had someone hold
Ginger and ran down the gully and then disappeared into the trees. A few
minutes later, Ginger was let go and ran down looking for Gene. Shortly
after Ginger left, Gene popped out of the trees near us, having circled
around. Unfortunately Ginger didn't pass the test. She searched around
for Gene down where he was last seen, but never picked up his trail.
While on the snow, Joy and Karen were loaned a set of ski poles. They
hadn't brought any as they hadn't expected to do much on-snow hiking.
After reaching the top, Karen commented that the ski poles were definitely
a good thing to have had. On the way down the gully, I swapped my ice axe
for the ski poles on one steep slope, since the axe is someone stabler in
the snow. After that slope, Karen commented that it was indeed more secure
feeling than the poles were.
At the end of the gully, we again paused at the rock we stopped at on the
way up. The beer was unburied and passed around, and people got out of
their gaiters. I (finally) took off my pant legs (making my long pants
into shorts) for the rest of the hike.
We almost immediately got off the snow and started down the switchbacks.
At the first turn, we passed the waterfall which was running noticeably
more water now than it had on the way up (due to the snow melt from the
afternoon). We were in the sun on the way down the trail, now, but going
down hill the sun wasn't as much of an issue as it would have been on the
way up. The views of Big Four weren't as nice as they had been in the
morning due to the changing angle of the sun.
Near the bottom of the switchbacks, the trail crosses a couple little
creeks. They, also, were noticeably fuller than they had been on the way
up. It was a good thing to have had on waterproof shoes. Crossing them in
the morning hardly caused a second thought, but in the afternoon, I had to
plan the crossing somewhat more carefully.
Shortly after the last creek, one arrives at the parking lot.
Harry, Joy, Joe, Karen, and Gene resting just above switchbacks.
Joy and Karen climbing snowfield towards summit.
Karen, Joy, Harry, John, Joe, and Gene on summit.
View from summit eastward. Bedal Peak visible on left.
Joe and Harry digging up the beer on the way down.
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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015