Photos from this trip can be found here.
Weather was equally wet throughout Washington State this weekend. It showed no signs of improving before Vantage Bridge, so I forewent the original plan to Steamboat Rock, where we last visited a year ago, and turned the car around. Our previous visit to Baldy off Yakima River Canyon was also a year ago, so I figured we’d at least in get some exercise if not for the lack of views.
Visibility in the canyon was no more than few hundred vertical feet when we arrived around noon. We did the same route as times before via the west ridge, spotted old snowshoe tracks and fresh boot tracks on the ridge and followed them in several inches to a foot of snow. Snowshoes would most likely have saved us some postholing time going up, but we managed fine by taking advantage of the boot tracks.
South wind blew during the entire ascent, and we headed straight into clouds couple hundred feet below the summit. Just before the radio towers we met the three hikers whose tracks we followed as they were leaving. Briefly we chatted about the weather and then went our separate ways. It was still windy up top if not windier, and we took refuge behind the concrete structure during most of our stay.
Summit went from whiteout to sunny, blue sky within 20 minutes of our arrival. About 10 minutes of good views before second wave of clouds swarmed in from the west. We waited another 15 minutes before clouds dissipated for good, and we were left with a glorious afternoon to savor rest of the canyon views.
Semi slushy snow on the descent, pups and I got in some glissading fun on steeper slopes.
Access: TP Jim Trail (.2 mile west of Big Pines Campground entrance)