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Dirtface Lookout, Lake Wenatchee Area, Washington 2/2/2005

Thought this would be an interesting trip, didn't know what I would encounter, I haven't hiked a snowless trail in several months at least, this would be no different. DirtyFace Trail is located behind the Lake Wenatchee Rangers station so access was no problem. The relative stats for the hike, max. elevation 6000', TH elevation 2000', elevation gain 4000' with equal loss (my knees hurt) for a round trip in and out of 9-10 miles. I knew today was suppose to be gorgeous and it did not disappoint, TH starting temp. was around 36 degrees and when I returned it was 53 degrees. The trail contains some seventy switchbacks, gainig around 1000' per mile, there was a nice level section almost half way which was perfectly placed. The trail had sparse areas of snow until about 4400', then predominantly snow (1"-3') sometimes solid sometimes collapsing with patches of ice, at and above 5000' snow constantly (1-5' plus) generally hard enough to hold your weight and compress down 2-4" but at times to the knee or crotch. I thought to myself after the trail disappeared under the snow and I began cross countrying it if the snow keeps giving I am going to turn around  as it is a huffer and I didn't want to be floundering under the sun in wet snow on slopes with some steep grades, but the snow maintained a fairly good walk, I didn't use my crampons going up, I did going down though. Didn't want to lose control and go with gravity. I reached the Old Tower summit in about 31/2 hours, it was absolutely stunning with wintry peaks in all directions and very warm at the top with some slight winds, gusting at times. I heard something I am not use to while approaching and at the top. It sounded like an incoming freight train the noise, kept building louder, then gone. At first I thought it was an avalanche, but then saw the trees bending at the summit, it was the wind making it's way through the terrain, absolutely bizarre. At the summit as I said great views 360 and down into Lake Wenatchee. Some pics and trail mix and I checked the ridgeline out going over to the other DirtyFace Peak to the NW but didn't have the time or ambition to get there today. Put some 6 point instep crampons on and made my way back down, which took 21/2 hours. I did get my first sunburn of the year.

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