Day off in the Teanaway

Since I’m writing a hiking guidebook, I am contractually obligated to do a lot of hiking. I hardly ever work more than 40 hours a week, but since all the work that I do has flexible hours, my work week tends to get spread out over seven days. But sometimes I do manage to take a whole day off. I often spend those days off playing in the mountains. It turns out not all hikes are appropriate for a guidebook to the 55 best hikes in Washington. Many fun adventures are too long, boring, hard or weird for a book like that, but I still want to do them.

I had been craving some extracurricular exploring in the Teanaway Valley before the snow falls since it’s so cool and so close to me. The open terrain and sparse forests coupled with steep, interesting peaks and ridges is pretty unique. After some research, I decided a trip to Bean Peak would be just the right amount of adventure.

Getting up early and leaving my house-sit in Roslyn was easy thanks to blue sky. Most of the popular weather crystal balls forecasted a chance of rain and I wasn’t even sure I would go until I saw the perfect weather. Thanks to a week of rain and some snow, the crisp air was unencumbered by smoke from the lingering fires.

I was cold as I started up the trail, but soon warmed up and shed some clothes. My gloved-hands gripped my poles as I crossed the first couple patches of new snow and entered Bean Creek Basin. Several peaks connected by broad ridges form Bean Creek Basin, and the jagged summit block of Bean Peak is at the far end. It’s not the tallest in the basin, but it’s steep summit is one of the most impressive, and it’s position at the head of the valley gives it a patriarchal look. Two miles in, the trail disappeared into snow. It doesn’t lead to Bean Peak anyway, so I left it in favor of a more direct course through sparse forest. My tracks danced through the powder snow next to the seemingly infinite small animal tracks.

The basin is deep and shady. The snow was deeper than I expected and my ankles eventually got cold. I headed for open slopes where the morning sun had melted most of the two day old snow. I soon left the snow behind, but questioned my route choice as I picked my way through patches of steep, slidey, scree.

The closer I got to the top of the ridge between Earl Peak and Bean Peak, the faster I went, anticipating views of the Stuart Range. When I got there I could see the cold granite of the Stuart Range, but not Mount Stuart. Or any of the Ingalls Peaks, where I had been weeks before.

Traveling along the ridge was easy and beautiful. The peaks of the Teanaway and the Stuart Range were all sprinkled in the first fresh snow of the year. Good, snow-free rock made for fun and easy scrambling on the east ridge of Bean Peak. I picked my way around and over boulders for a few minutes until I reached the Summit. That’s when Mount Stuart and the Ingalls Peaks appeared – they were hiding behind the narrow summit block of Bean Peak.

I ate peanut M&M’s and turned in circles staring at mountains for a while before heading down. I descended on the west ridge of the peak, which wasn’t as steep as the side I came up. From there I picked my way down through the hard, orange rock that is so prevalent in the Teanaway. I had seen this formation from below and it looked much steeper. Going down it was a lot of fun! I was back at the bottom of the basin in no time, and I didn’t even have to slide down any scree slopes.

I took my sunglasses off when my path entered the forest and I instantly noticed the deer standing 20 feet in front of me. It was half scared and half curious, and wasn’t in any hurry to leave. It’s hunting season, so I wondered what it would be like to kill it. I considered trying to scare it so that it would be more afraid of the next human it encounters. In the end, I walked right by and wished the deer luck.

Feeling inspired by the changing seasons, lonely rock, and a deeper knowledge of the ridges and valleys of the Teanaway, I started working on my guide for Lake Ingalls when I got home. So much for the day off.

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One Response to Day off in the Teanaway

  1. Anonymous says:

    Oliver, I love this blog. You have an entertaining writing style and the energy of your dad.

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