Abiel Peak is a fun scrambling peak off of I-90. I attempted this two ways – once in a failed attempt to see if we could finish an unusual route from Annette Lake, and one the easy way from the PCT.
Abiel from Annette Lake – The Hard Way (Sep 12)
On an overnight camping trip at the lake, a friend and I tried to scramble up the rugged, tree covered west ridge of Abiel by gaining a saddle in a talus-filled ravine southwest of the lake. We ambled around to the southwest edge of the lake, left the trail, and travelled on open talus to the steep treeline at the westerly of two saddle points on the ridge. This one looked more open and less forested than the east saddle point, but it turned out to be a bad move. The terrain was steep, loose dirt with very few hand and footholds. We found it too dangerous to continue and turned around. I bet the more easterly saddle marked on the map would go but we haven’t tried it; nonetheless, it was a fun adventure.
On this cloudy day, I set out to get my blood pumping with a mountain run (or two). I saw Silver Peak as a good candidate for views and easy access on Summitpost, and noted that the short Mount Catherine trail is nearby. They’re both located near the Hyak ski area off of FR 9070 in the Snoqualmie National Forest.
About 4.5 miles in, I came to four or five vehicles parked by the side of the road and a trail. I parked here and started following the trail, but got pretty confused – it was gaining elevation much faster than I had anticipated for Silver Peak, and heading in the wrong direction. A quick check of my GPS app revealed I was actually climbing Mount Catherine instead. No matter, I pushed ahead and summited the 5052′ peak anyway. At only 1.5 miles one way, it took me just 23 minutes from car to summit at my decidedly lackadaisical trail “running” speed (more like a power walk given the steepness) for around 1200 feet of elevation gain. This is a good peak for those lacking the endurance for a more stout vertical gain like Mt. Si. And the views are actually pretty outstanding. GPS log here
After a quick descent, I moved my car another 1/4 mile down the road and found the Pacific Crest trailhead at Windy Pass. This is what I had originally been looking for. I headed in the direction of Stampede Pass on the PCT. GPS track here
The trail is just beautiful, winding through conifer groves, talus slopes, and numerous creeks, although the surface is quite muddy right now. At exactly Mile 1.7 the turnoff to Silver Peak via an unofficial but fairly clear trail goes to the right, splitting off from the PCT at a spot marked with visible cairns. After gaining several hundred more feet, I reached a saddle between Silver Peak and its neighbor to the south, Tinkham Peak and headed to the right. Continue reading Silver Peak and Mount Catherine→