Adams: NE Moraine tour (Lava, Lyman, Wilson)

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Chip Down
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Joined: November 8th, 2014, 8:41 pm

Adams: NE Moraine tour (Lava, Lyman, Wilson)

Post by Chip Down » October 8th, 2020, 6:07 pm

In the 20th century, I hiked the NE side of Adams, from Muddy Meadows towards Big Muddy Creek. Only made it as far as Victory Ridge. I figured with some decades of deterioration, heavier pack, more adipose, surely I can do more now, since I'm tougher and more determined, right?
Looking at Google Maps, I saw a couple interesting features: A high point on a moraine in line with Lava Ridge (a person lacking geological knowledge could think the moraine was part of Lava Ridge, especially if snow covered). And a crescent-shaped moraine shared by Lyman and Wilson glaciers. So a plan was hatched: To the high point on the Lava Glacier moraine, then down and clockwise to hook up with the Lyman/Wilson moraine, to its peak, down the other side towards Goat Butte, summit Goat Butte, XC to Red Butte, return on trail. Well, there's absolutely no way I could do that in a day. But it's a starting point, to be revised in the field as conditions warrant.

At the first creek crossing (Lava Glacier fork of Muddy Branch) I looked up the mountain and decided the upslope terrain looked like a boring rubble heap, so I decided to continue on trail towards Goat Butte. Reached the Lyman fork of Muddy Branch and followed cairns up. Missed the crossing, continued up. By the time I realized I had to be off-route, I didn't want to turn back, so followed creek to a pinch-point where creek was under snow. Above the snow, I entered a huge flat basin. The creek continued to Lyman terminus. Except the entry point, this entire basin was hemmed in by glacier or moraines. Unless you were high up on the mountain, you'd never know this basin was here. Facing the glacier, to my right was the Lava Glacier moraine I had intended to ascend, and to my left was the Lyman/Wilson moraine. I wasn't sure I'd be able to ascend it here, so after exploring a bit, I headed back down, and cut over to hook up with Highline Trail (that's the trail I missed at the creek crossing, but I was confident I'd find it if I headed east).

Found the Highline Trail, and followed it until I could see Goat Butte. Oh hell no, way too far off, too low, some apparent brush. Maybe some other day. I decided to go find the Lyman/Wilson moraine, but follow it up from the Wilson side, opposite of the original plan. I hit it at a nice easy low point/ breach. Couldn't have planned it better. Climbed up to a high point on the downhill side (hope that makes sense). Impossible to continue clockwise (glacier). Very satisfying stopping point, no regrets at all. Dropped back to the breach, and continued up the moraine towards its peak/apex. Other than the little breach below, it was field-trip quality: crisp crest, and well defined at the bottom. Perfect example of rubble getting bulldozed by a glacier. The peak was nice, but not mind blowing. From the topography, I expected it to have a bit of a Barrett Spur feel, but the glaciers below were a bit dirty, and the dropoff (moraine slope) a bit too gradual. It was satisfying, but I've seen better. Of course, the glaciers on this side of Adams are amazing, so I have to admit it was fun to see them up close.

Although I had originally dismissed Lava moraine once I saw it in person from the trail, my higher observations reinvigorated my interest. So where Highline Trail crosses the Lava Glacier fork of Muddy Branch (closest creek crossing to Foggy Flats), I headed up. The creek forked, one side left towards the Lava Glacier runoff, and one side right towards a snowfield. I went in between and hiked up to the bottom/end of the Lava moraine. It was easy to gain crest, and I started up. Beautiful ridge, lots of grass and big boulders, broad crest. Near the top, it lacked continuity. The final portion was across a snow gully, and it was steeper/rockier/narrower. Makes me wonder if the lower moraine was much older. Fortunately, as I drew closer, I could see it would be easy to cross the snow gully and continue up. But why do that when I could follow a goat up the gully, through a little pass, and into a little bowl between Lava Glacier and Lava Ridge? From there I continued to the saddle between Lava Ridge and Lava Moraine, in hopes of ascending the moraine on the south side, and then descending via what was originally planned as my ascent route. But first, up Lava Ridge as far as possible. There's a huge steep step. I discovered the left bypass was impossible (glacier). The right bypass looked like a maybe, but it was a lot of boring work, poor scenery, unpleasant, possibly dangerous. No thanks. So down to the saddle and up the moraine. Easy at first, but very narrow once I reached the top. Not scary, but required caution. Dropped down the north side, and once I was below the glacier, cut left/west and explored my way down. I took a couple side trips, but I won't clutter up this TR. Might post individual TRs on those later.

One human. Lots of goats (I've been going through a dry spell lately).

I selected my goals based on Google Maps, and I must say their cartography style really highlighted these features. I checked a couple other maps, and neither of them showed my goal moraines clearly.
Lyman Basin
Lyman Basin seen from above.
Extent of my clockwise travels. Off in the distance, the peak on the extreme right is Little Mount Adams.
Headed up the Lyman/Wilson moraine.
Some guy got paid to come here.
I forgot to mark this pic. From that low snow patch at center, the Lava Glacier moraine is to right, and ascends to one peak, then another. That highest triangular rubble heap was my goal.
Dark peak to the left is top of Lava Glacier moraine. Notice the dirty glacier to the right. Amazing, no moraine, looks like a brand new glacier advance that hasn't carved a valley yet. I've only seen this once before, on Rainier.
Looking down on Lava moraine from Lava Ridge.
My high point on lava ridge, below the first step.

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