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Trip Report

Dirty Face Lookout and Peak

Central Cascades

Trip Report By


Hiked Jun 9, 2018

Type of Hike

Day hike

Trail Conditions

Trail in good condition


Road suitable for all vehicles


Bugs were an annoyance


Snow free

When the weather falls apart just in time for the weekend, I pick my destination using what I unmusically call "microclimate optimization."  Diving into the weather reports, webcams, and personal intuition, I set out for the east side of Stevens Pass.  Sure enough, the sun started breaking through the clouds as I crested the pass.  At this point, I really did not know exactly where I was going -- maybe somewhere up Icicle creek, maybe the desert -- I'd just go until I hit mostly not-terrible weather.  Things were looking really promising near Coles Corner, and I abruptly decided to point my nose towards Lake Wenatchee and good 'ole Dirtyface.

Conditions were ideal for this trail: on the cool side, with large patches for blue sky poking between the clouds.  The bugs were thick at the trailhead,, but once I got moving (and kept moving) they left me alone.

Early on, I noted signs of recent trail work, such as cleared drainages.  I did not realize how recent the work was, however, until I bumped into the work party doing it around a mile in! 

As I passed the creek crossing, I tried to remember how many switchbacks lay ahead, with the intent of counting them (which is a good way to pass the time on the way up).  I think I remember Harvey Manning quoting 97 switchbacks.  Unfortunately, whatever the number, I was already a score of switchbacks in before I remembered that I was going to count them!

Some flowers are showing, including a couple nice patches of lupine.  About a dozen down trees, all LDTR* 1 or 2.  There were a few patchs of snow 1-3 ft long and posed no problem.  There are a few stretches where brush sticks its nose in your personal space.

The atmosphere was decidedly unsettled.  A good wind was running with occasional big gusts.  For a dozen or so switchbacks, I'd get hit by a cool wind and some "fluffy rain" at the west end of the switchback, and still, warm, dry air at the east end, and these are no long switchbacks!  The snow/rain mix was odd, since it seemingly came out of nowhere.  I resolved to turn around if I heard thunder, but fortunately that never happened.  More wind and snow/rain mix at the summit.

The hike down was mostly in nice warm (but not hot) sunshine, with occasional flurries of fluffy rain.  The work party I had seen on the way up was gone and did not seem to have made it much farther than when I saw them.  Got back to the car, checked for ticks, and headed back to the wet side of the mountains, where I was greeted with heavy winds, rain, and a few sunbreaks.  I think I chose wisely when I went east.


*Lee Down Tree Rating Scale:
1.  Easily stepped over with a normal stride -OR- can be walked under without noticeably ducking
2.  Large step-over required -OR- can be walked under with mild stooping  -OR- short diversion on easy, well-established bypass trail required
3. Climb-over, may require some use of hand holds, both feet leave the ground, small drop back to trail -OR- can be passed under, but large amount of stooping, and possible use of hands required -OR- diversion on steep, long, and/or not well-established bypass
4.  Difficult climb-over, requires substantial use of handholds, multiple steps up, large drop back to trail -OR- crawling-under on all fours or belly required -OR- significant off-trail travel required to bypass
5.  Impassible by any reasonable means