Thursday, September 17, 2015

Rattlesnake Traverse in summer

Classic Stuart photo showing most of the traverse to Murphy Peak.
Murphy is the peak on the left skyline.
I was able to spend a mid-week afternoon out in the mountains enjoying our backyard Wilderness playground. I left the truck parked at Snowbowl and biked back down the dirt road to Grant Creek, then up to Ravine.  It felt somewhat cavalier to leave the trailhead at 2 pm, and more than one person just shook their head when I mentioned I was going to end up at Snowbowl. I was on the cusp of getting sick, but just ignored my body and ran fairly aggressively up to Stuart. I went out to the summit, then continued on the trail to Mosquito.  I did take one major wrong detour off the trail, but corrected soon enough and proceeded to the summit of Mosquito, where I downed most of the remainder of my water, slowly coming to the realization that the second half of the traverse was going to be a thirsty one. 

Big Lake and beyond from Mosquito.
After less than a mile, the trail drops to Glacier lake, so I left it and walked easily to the summit of Sanders peak.  The terrain between Sanders and Murphy is fairly rugged, but I worked through it, generally staying just west or south of the crest.  I bypassed large portions of the ridge crest on the Northwest ridge of Sanders, on the scrappy rugged ridge west of West Sanders, and on one notably unappealing gendarme on the East ridge of Murphy.  I also made one substantial routefinding blunder by climbing West Sanders, as it would have been faster and more pleasant to bypass the entire peak on the south.  It was fun puzzling through, and I was soon on top of Murphy, sipping the last of my water.  The traverse to Point 6 was delightful (it always is), and the descent of Snowbowl via Second Though was quick and to the point.  I returned to the car a few minutes under 6 hours, promptly downed a liter of water, and quietly celebrated a fun little afternoon of running and adventuring. Also, the outing didn't exacerbate my sickness, so I'm psyched.

Getting into the technical and scrappy bits beyond Sanders.

A little tired and a lot excited on Murphy.

The final section from Murphy to Point 6.

Shadow dancing on Point 6.
Thoughts
This is a great outing, and it should be repeated often in summer and winter. The shuttle is super easy, and it all flows together quite nicely.  The route could be tightened up to a simple 5 hour affair, especially if you start at Snowbowl and skip the summits.  Go to it. As often as possible!

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