Morning Star Peak by Vesper Peak via Mountain Loop Highway / 晨星峯

  • Reading time:10 mins read

Morning Star Peak by Vesper Peak towers over Headlee Pass as one of the prominent high points along Mountain Loop Highway. Together with Lewis Peak, they share stunning views of the taller neighbors like Del Campo Peak and Sheep Mountain.

Del Campo Peak at head of South Fork Stillguamish River Valley
Morning Star Peak above the notch

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Morning Star Peak at a Glance

Access: Sunrise Mine Trailhead
Round Trip: 5.4 miles
Elevation Range: 2320′-6020′
GPS Track: available
Gear: helmet, ice ax, crampons, microspikes
Dog-Friendly: no

The Preface

The pups and I attempted Morning Star Peak three years earlier. But we ended up going off-route, and so we never went past the brushy basin. However, it turned out to be a dog-UNfriendly trip, as I later realized.

I invited Anne to come on the trip with me after our outing last week, but she had other plans. However, our friend Dave was available. And we used route descriptions from nwhikers and SummitPost.

See more trip photos here.

Stillaguamish River Basin

It was my second time going through the basin. But not much has changed in three years as the massive brush, and rock debris here remained. Apart from peak baggers, the area doesn’t see many visitors.

Like before, we found the hidden trail by the Stillaguamish River crossing. From there, we made our way south. But we only hiked several hundred feet before the slide alder overtook the path.

South Fork Stillaguamish River Basin
South Fork Stillaguamish River Basin

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The Brushy Terrain

More slide alder had inundated the basin, so the trail became increasingly hard to follow. But we continued to fight through the overgrowth before finding more alder swath.

Soln, the trail vanished. But we now had an open view of the basin to plan our route more efficiently. Meanwhile, to the south, towering above the basin, was Del Campo Peak‘s dramatic north face.

The brushy terrain
The brushy terrain

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The Slab Wall

Later we saw the giant boulder feature. Then we made our way up the ramp alongside the continuous slab wall. Here we found more slide alder and thickets, and it took even more time to navigate.

Slowly, we went up to the knob on the ridge that marked the south edge of the extensive ramp. Snow later showed up at 4000’, where we saw days-old boot tracks heading in the same direction.

The slab wall
The slab wall

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The Access Notch

There were six inches of days-old new snow. Then as we neared the notch, we found more ice under the fresh powder. I should’ve put on crampons here to keep from sliding. The boot tracks later ended on the notch.

We found decent snow west of the notch. That area had also been in the sun for several hours, so it wasn’t as icy. The gully across the way looked steep like the reports had described.

Seeing the steep gully from the notch
Seeing the steep gully from the notch

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Final Stretch on Morning Star Peak

Shortly, we made our way over to the bottom of the gully, and it was just as steep closeup. So I went up the adjacent dry rocks instead to pick up the pace. Later I met Dave below the summit block.

The west slopes were still icy. So with microspikes on, I went up through rocks and krummholz whenever possible. In turn, I avoided most of the ice. Dave put on crampons to gain better footing as snow improved right below the top.

Morning Star Peak southeast view
Morning Star Peak southeast view

See more trip photos here.

Morning Star Peak Summit Views

We spent a long time on top in excellent weather. The close-up view of Del Campo Peak, Gothic Peak, and Lewis Peak was breathtaking. To the northwest were Sperry Peak and Vesper Peak. Mount Baker even showed her fave out of the clouds.

Eastern peaks were still in the mists, so Monte Cristo group, Sloan Peak, or Glacier Peak was still not visible. We waited a while for the stubborn clouds to shift. But we had plenty of views to savor in the other directions.

Morning Star Peak northwest view
Morning Star Peak northwest view

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Outro

On the way out, I put on crampons through the icy sections. I don’t know why I didn’t use them on the way up when they would’ve been the most helpful! But they made exiting the mountain much smoother.

The sky darkened when we were down by the slab wall, so the brush there was even more annoying. Nonetheless, we both enjoyed a beautiful day out by Mountain Loop Highway!

See more trip photos here.

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