It was about 12F when we started hiking down to Phantom Ranch to join the beach partiers already in the Grand Canyon. December is a quiet and spectacular time of year to ramble down river, and especially safe during the Apocalypse. We got off the river on Christmas day, now known only as Adventure Day.
On my own terms I tend to ramble the woods on foot or ski, trudging uphill one step at a time. Wheelers are pretty hilarious though and some are true pieces of machine-art. When you try to drive up sodden, snow covered logging roads for a few thousand feet vertical (past the trailhead and toward the ridge Yellow Aster Butte is part of) it’s quickly realized it’s about the struggle, not getting anywhere. Easily passed by snowmobile and hiker alike (without snowshoes…) these fellas managed to not slide off the cliffs and conquered each avalanche debris-pile with grace and winches.
In mid August I took a short backpack trip to Yellow Aster Butte in the North Cascades with my brother Ian, our Dad, Mark and Ian’s lady, Malia (her first backpack). Somehow the northwest had a good snow year and the tarns weren’t even fully melted out. My Dad and I hiked out the ridge toward Excelsior picking early ripening cascade blueberries as we went.
Thanks to Dale, the friendly ranger, we managed to snag a recently cancelled backcountry permit for one of the hardest to reserve camp sites in the park – Andrews Creek. It’s one drainage over from Glacier Gorge with access to numerous high lakes and the last remaining glaciers in the park. Add in a full moon, a first dusting of snow, turning aspens and good whiskey and we had a perfect little walk in the woods.