It had been over a year since we last made an appearance in Salmon La Sac, so it was time to revisit. At the beginning of the year someone mentioned to me that the Cle Elum Valley Road had been regraded, so I was looking forward to driving on it. But after I got on the road past Salmon La Sac Campground, I started questioning what they had said. The road hadn’t changed a bit and it was exactly the same since my last visit, rocky and bumpy.
I had read in a couple of trip reports that NF-160 was horrible, indeed it was. At least the portion running southeastward was extremely bumpy and rock, and it would not have been suitable for low-clearance vehicles. The portion of the road that ran eastward all the way to the trailhead was much better, less bumpy but with big rocks off to the side that had come off of the scree slopes. I parked the car just past the open gate.
After walking on the road/trail for .7 mile we came to the NF Fortune Creek Trail junction and went up the trail. First half of the trail was steep, but then it tapered just before crossing Fortune Creek. About .2 mile past the creek the pup and I started scrambling up the moderately brushy slope into the basin. Snow started to show up at 5,300 feet shortly after we past the talus field. Snow started to get punchy through the meadow at 5,500 feet so I put on my snowshoes at the north end.
Snow hardened a bit once we started working our way up the southeast ridge to reach the saddle just south of the summit block. Rather than approaching the summit directly from the south, we dropped about 50 feet down the east slope and then made our way up the east face of the summit block in snow. The summit itself was free of snow, but it looked like a moat was beginning to form and the snow would soon peel away from the rocks.
Views atop this peak were just as amazing as from any of the nearby peaks we had been on. It was a warm day, so the wind on the summit felt really nice. Getting off the summit I decided to go down the west slope and plunge step through soft snow. I had avoided coming up on the west slope because it looked a lot steeper from down below.
Another beautiful day in the backcountry!