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

  • Reading time:4 mins read

Morning Star Peak by Vesper Peak towers over Headlee Pass. It’s one of the prominent high points off Mountain Loop Highway. Together with Lewis Peak, they share stunning views of their taller neighbors like Del Campo Peak.

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

We attempted Morning Star Peak three years earlier. But the pups and I went off-route, and we never went past the brushy basin. Though, it wasn’t a dog-friendly trip, as I later realized.

I tried to get Anne to come on the trip with me again after last week. But she had prior plans. Though, our friend Dave was available. Then he and I 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. There are lots of brush and rock debris here. So other than peak baggers, the area doesn’t see many visitors.

We located the hidden trail right before crossing the Stillaguamish River. Then we started going southbound. But we only hiked several hundred feet on the path before the slide alder appeared.

South Fork Stillaguamish River Basin
South Fork Stillaguamish River Basin

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The Brushy Terrain

Slide alder had taken over the head of the basin. So the trail became harder to follow. But we continued our fight through the overgrowth for several hundred feet more. Then we went through another batch of the alder.

By then, the trail had disappeared entirely. But we now had an open view of the terrain. So it was easier to plan our up route. Towering the top of the basin was the dramatic north face of Del Campo Peak.

The brushy terrain
The brushy terrain

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The Slab Wall

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

Slowly, we went up to the knob on the ridge. This bump marked the end of the long ramp. Snow later appeared at 4000’. There we saw days-old boot tracks going 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 could have put on crampons here to keep from sliding. Later the boot trails ended on the gap.

Snow conditions west of the notch were more decent. That area had also been in the sun for several hours, so it wasn’t as icy. The gully across the way looked steep. Other reports had mentioned it as well.

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. It was steep, as I saw from the notch earlier. So I climbed up the dry rocks to the right instead. Later I met Dave at the bottom of the summit.

The west slopes were still icy. So with microspikes, I climbed up through rocks and brush whenever possible. That way, I avoided most of the ice. Dave put on crampons to gain better footing. Then snow quality improved just below the top.

Morning Star Peak southeast view
Morning Star Peak southeast view

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Morning Star Peak Summit Views

We spent a long time on the summit in excellent weather. The closeup view of Del Campo Peak, Gothic Peak, and Lewis Peak was breathtaking. To the northwest were Sperry Peak and Vesper Peak. Then we could even see Mount Baker now that it was out of the clouds.

The eastern peaks were still in the mists. So we couldn’t get a decent look at the Monte Cristo group. Or Sloan Peak and Glacier Peak. We waited a while, but the clouds were too stubborn to move. But we had enough 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 terrain. Not sure why I didn’t use them on the way up the mountain! But they make the exit a lot smoother.

It became dark when we went by the slab wall. So the brush was even more annoying. But we both enjoyed a beautiful day out on Mountain Loop Highway!

See more trip photos here.

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