Mt. Daniel
July 30-31, 2011

Mt Daniel is located in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, east of the Cascade Crest.
At about 8000 feet, it is the highest point in King and Kittitas Counties.

This links to the 24K topo map, and it's kind of a big file.

Day 1: Up to Squaw Lake

After a belated start (we had to repair one of the tires on the Jeep),
we hit the trail and hiked up about 1500 feet to Squaw Lake.

Squaw Lake would have been a really enjoyable campsite, if it weren't for the mosquitos, which were brutal.
We spent much of the late afternoon in our bivies, hiding from the swarm.
We had to wait until after dark to make dinner.
We did have an enjoyable evening once the bugs were gone.
Not many photos from day 1...

Day 2: Into the Alpine

We left our camp gear at Squaw Lake and started up the trail toward Cathedral Rock.
Cathedral Rock, a volcanic tower, has huge prominence over the surrounding landscape.

The trail from Squaw Lake up to the alpine was more difficult than we had anticipated.
Passing beneath Cathedral Rock, the trail traversed fairly steep terrain, which gradually became covered in snow.

The trail was under a lot of snow at this point, and we were finding our own route, or following the tracks of other hikers.

The route climbed up through the sub-alpine, through the last of the trees, toward the glacial valley.

Once we were in the glacial valley, we could look up the route toward the impressive headwall about a mile away.

We decided on an alternate route.
We climbed the valley wall at the bottom of the valley, up the rock spur in the center of the above photo.
Then we were able to traverse the snow field just below the top of the ridge, which you can see in the above photo.
We did this, rather than trudging up the valley floor and having to climb out at the top, near the headwall.
This route was more fun than the standard route, but probably a little slower.

The view from the top of the ridge, looking up the valley toward the headwall.

The advantage to the alternate route was the view.
We could see Cathedral Rock behind us as we ascended the ridge.
It was a mix of rock and snow the whole way.

We were able to look down into the valley from the ridge.
An electric-blue little pond on the snow-covered valley floor caught our attention.

We decided that on the way back, we would descend along the valley floor to have a closer look at the little icy pond.

We were pretty close to the point on the ridge where the main route climbed up the headwall and intersected our route.
The view ahead was stunning and formidable.
The weather had been cloudy and cool all morning.
Standing at about 7000 feet, we could see that the route ahead led us right into a dense white cloud.

We had some lunch on a promontory with a great view and got a group photo.
It was getting a little late, about 2:00 PM, and we had to hike all the way out and drive home that same day.
Of course, it was at this time that the weather started to improve.

The view, facing north from our lunch spot.

The clouds made amazing shadows on the snowy landscape as they were dissipating and blowing away.

After lunch, we continued up the ridge to where it joined up with the main route.
Some skiers had just started up the main route, a little ahead of us.
You can see them in this photo, near the center, at the top of the snow slope.
The rocky horizon pictured in the photo above, is not the summit.
The true summit is behind that rocky mass, about a half-mile away and 400 feet further vertically.

Considering the time, the distance ahead, and the weather, the view facing downhill was looking pretty enticing.
We decided to call it a day and suited up for the glissade down into the valley.

We had a great glissade down toward the little icy pond, where we stopped for some photos.

As we stood at the pond, the sky started clearing and the clouds dissipated.
With another few hours available to us, we could have pressed on and probably made it to the summit.
Oh well, we'll have to come back and try again sometime, maybe in even this year, in September.
Next time, we'll push past Squaw Lake on day one, and camp higher, near Cathedral Rock.

With these thoughts in mind, we hiked back toward Cathedral Rock, and to our mosquito-infested campsite, and then back to the Jeep, and drove home.

We'll be back!