Mike Foote & I took advantage of a brief weather window between storms and organized for a single-day Ptarmigan Traverse. I fast-packed the route two weeks prior and was looking forward to immersing myself in that stunning scenery again.
We left Cascade Pass TH at 5:50 AM surrounded by fog and the spiraling song of the Swainson’s Thrush. For the first 5 hours, we had only a few glimpses of the mountains until the fog began to burn off around White Rock Lakes. Usually, we go to the mountains for the expansive views, allowing the scenery to pull us onward. The fog changed that, instead of the macro, our attention turned to the micro. The glistening of water droplets on spider webs strung across the heather, the mottled patterns of sticky black and grey rock underfoot, a thin dark line of a crevasse set into the white landscape with no division between sky and ground.
The fog and clouds kept the temps cool which was nice for moving fast. We expected fresh steps along the way but only passed three parties on the route (Kool-Aid Lk, and two in Bachelor Creek). We made a few route finding errors due to the fog but used our GPS to get back on route, never spending more than a handful of minutes exploring side gullies, rock slides, or alder patches. When we arrived at the Downy Creek TH we were a couple of hours faster than I had originally told my wife. We walked a few miles on the dirt road to meet her which kept the pack of mosquitoes at the TH from catching up to us.
FOOTE - GNAM splits (hr:min:sec)
Cascade Pass TH -start 5:50 AM:
Cascade Pass: 49:48
Cache Col: 1:32:24
Spider-Formidable Col: 2:52:12
Yang Yang Lakes: 3:27:36
White Rock Lakes: 5:19:12
Spire Col: 6:30:00
Cub Pass: 7:15:36
Bottom of Bachelor Creek: 8:46:12
Downey Creek TH -finish 3:40 PM: 9:50:24