Ascent of Bare Mountain on 2015-06-20

Climber: Ryan Kusche

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, June 20, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Bare Mountain
    Elevation:5353 ft / 1631 m

Ascent Trip Report

Started this hike later in the morning on a sunny Saturday. The North Fork Snoqualmie road was in good condition, FS 5700-1 was a little rough in spots but very doable.

I had never been out via North Fork and glad to finally be there. Seems there are endless "neighborhoods" to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. After studying the map some I had set my sights on going up Bare Mt, then perhaps making my way off trail to Lennox Mt if it could be managed.

Early on this trail bed is one of my least favorite types - round smooth rock ranging from marble to fist size. Many possibilities to tweak an ankle and tough to get a rhythm on. This is broken up by a few minor crik crossing and then a large 2 part slab waterfall of Bear Creek with wonderfully clear water. After crossing a larger wooden bridge back over Bear Creek the trail starts to narrow but improve in my opinion. I suspect that the trail to that point at one time was a logging road.

As the trail heads further up the valley it soon breaks into rather tall fern meadows. While maybe brushy, the trail is well defined. There is a spur trail just above 3400' that continues east towards old mine prospects. This would later turn out to be my return trail.

The climb up the side of Bare Mt has many small and quick switchbacks which I rather liked. As a few different rock outcroppings come nearer in view you wonder which if any might be the summit. Soon you are on steeper slopes and start to catch glimpses of the surrounding peaks including Rainier to the south. It is tempting to stop and break at the saddle with the expanded views but the Bare summit is not far. The last few feet are simple heave upward onto a bunch of rock that you can sense was leveled for the now absent lookout.

3 guys and their dog, Bowser, were relaxing on the summit. Great views of the valleys, Paradise Lakes, Glacier Pk, Mt Rainier, and countless smaller peaks. I rested for maybe 20-30 minutes. Was feeling more tired for such a simple hike than usual. Studied the ridge over towards Lennox. Seemed straight forward if I could find a reasonable route on the north side of the ridge between Bare and pt 5449. I decided to give it a go.

Went back down to the saddle and broke off the trail onto a few blazes that quickly disappeared. I tried dropping down some early, but had to back track. In retrospect, staying as high as possible without a risking a bad fall would have been best. I spent a few minutes swinging from tree branches and slipping across blueberry bushes wondering if my off trail plan would pay off. Eventually I reached some open heather and managed a slight ridge which got me into the area I had seen from Bare. This was truly a magnificent Alpine scene of white boulders, cliffs, and meadows. I kept calling it "the theater" in my head. While beautiful it took some work to navigate and required I regain some elevation to reach the saddle above Bear Lakes. I had a slip at one point and whacked my knee pretty good.

Eventually the boulders turned to slabs then back to heather and trees. Here I saw my indications of a trail leading the way to a slight track down to the saddle between pt 5310 and pt 5449. Gauging the time and my mental fortitude and then getting a good look at Bear Lakes, I could not resist the urge to drop down immediately and check it out. I had one last reservation and thought I should push myself to pt 5449 but decided that was only really prudent if Lennox was to be obtained which seemed best for another day.

More quick boulder and talus work. Bear Lakes is fed by an interesting weave of tiny streams draining from the cirque and cliffs above. Could not resist jumping in. Water was glorious. This and the boulder meadow were my personal badge for the day. Trout in the lake. Bugs started to get feisty.

The trail down from Bear Lakes to the mines and back to Bear Creek takes some smart guesswork. Stay in the rocky drainage/boot track cut into the steep slope when possible. There is a ~7' rock move at one point that was mitigated by 2 crude ropes left tied to a sturdy but small tree. Soon you will enter another talus field with old mine/log equipment. Re-finding the trail was tricky here as there are many blazes from past visitors exploring. Stay near the old cable and look for a sure path into the ferns and downhill. The ferns were so thick and tall I couldn't see my feet or more than a few feet ahead, but the boot track is there.

Eventually this breaks into the old/new mine camp area. More interesting artifacts here. The trail will reach a tree covered dirt area mixed between the fingers of Bear Creek. This is where the spur trail finally turns west and heads back towards the main Bare trail. Through more overgrown fern meadows it soon connects and the rest is retracing footsteps.

This was quite a mixed and rewarding hike with several elements, despite not doing the full gambit of a traverse to Lennox. Granted, I've only two similar trip reports in my findings.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles

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