Although the weather forecast was as confused as usual, it just felt like a good day to hike Mt. Defiance. I went up the Starvation Ridge Trail (#414) which was in good condition and completely clear of snow all the way to 3700’.
Icy patches started showing up on the trail once it leveled out on the way to Warren Lake. The last 0.5 mi to the lake was so icy that I put on my Microspikes so I wouldn’t have to watch every step or go off-trail. I must say the spikes worked perfectly and stayed tight to my boots – wearing them made things go much faster. The lake was completely covered with snow.
Beyond the lake, the real snow started and I followed some old snowshoe tracks to the summit. Along the way there were views of Adams and Rainier (under the clouds),
Although the day started with sun, some overcast had rolled in while I was hiking up, making me think that I’d be denied a view. But by the time I reached the summit, all the clouds were gone and the view was back.
There’s about 4-6’ of snow on the summit, surrounding the decorative antenna arrays.
I made a loop by descending Trail 413 (the main trail). Again, old snowshoe tracks lead down across the snowfields to where (about 4160’) the trail starts heading down the ridge. Very soon after this point, the snow disappeared and was replaced by hard ice on the trail. I needed my Microspikes again for about 100-200’ until I reached the wilderness boundary sign – at which point all of the snow & ice just disappeared. The trail was clear (except for a few minor blowdowns) all the way back to the parking lot. About 6.5 hours RT.
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