All photos from this trip can be found here.
Initially missed the NF7170 turnoff and turned left into Alta Crystal Resort (NF7172) instead. After spending about 10 minutes driving around the resort and checking my GPS, I drove back to NF7170 and parked the vehicle next to 410, directly in front of the stop sign; a “Dead End” sign was posted on a tree on the south side. No parking on this short stretch of road with cabins on both sides.
Normally one would get to the trailhead by getting to end of the road, passing the last cabin on the right, and walking a few hundred feet to the trailhead sign. Just before the cabin I saw another trail and followed it, but realized five minutes later that it was heading down on other side of the ridge. So the pups and I started scrambling up the ridge to get back on the summer trail.
Snow patches started showing up at 3900′, followed by fully covered snow in 4000′ where I put on snowshoes. Weather was warm so snow wasn’t firm, but we didn’t posthole too badly. Once we got to the clearing at 5500′ it was full on fresh powder, about where wind started to pick up also. From that point onward we were moving at snail speed dealing with the Cascade Concrete. With every stride, not only the snowshoes were weighted with semi slushy snow on top, but snow blocks also quickly formed at the bottom.
We stopped at Point 6176 to get a good look at Noble Knob before making our way down the other side to the saddle. Covered in fresh snow, east side of the ridge looked cliffed out, so we stayed just below west side of the crest in the trees until terrain eased up for us to get back on top. It got much windier when we reached the saddle 300 feet below the summit, so we went up on west slopes to dodge the east wind.
The wind was blowing in all directions on the summit, but we managed to dodge it by staying among the trees. The mountains near and far were all visible, and Rainier was just as beautiful as always.
On the way down we followed our tracks back to the saddle and back to Point 6176, and then proceeded to hike out at sunset.