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John Guilford's Hikes

Dickerman Mtn. on 1999-07-31

Date: 1999-07-31

Location: Dickerman Mtn.

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. 

[ PIX4 ] 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.  [ PIX2 ] After that it was a straightforward hike through the compacted snow up through the meadows, which have a good view of Big Four. 

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. 

[ PIX5 ] [ PIX3 ] 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. 

[ PIX1 ] 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. 


[ PIX4 ] Harry, Joy, Joe, Karen, and Gene resting just above switchbacks. 

[ PIX2 ] Joy and Karen climbing snowfield towards summit. 

[ PIX5 ] Karen, Joy, Harry, John, Joe, and Gene on summit. 

[ PIX3 ] View from summit eastward.  Bedal Peak visible on left. 

[ PIX1 ] 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