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| | |-+  January 15, 2013 Nooksack Cirque Trail
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Author Topic: January 15, 2013 Nooksack Cirque Trail  (Read 7748 times)
dberdinka
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January 15, 2013 Nooksack Cirque Trail
« on: 01/16/13, 08:06 PM »

Absolutely no turns involved what so ever but this tour was the equal of anything I've done in steeper and higher terrain.  Many thanks to my friend Dave who inspired me with tales of skating down the old roadbed and across the upper valley gravel bars. 

Considering the minimal elevation gain it was a bit more rugged than I had anticipated but still well suited for lightweight cross country ski gear.  Crossing Ruth Creek takes a little bit of scrambling around roots and such but really wasn't too bad.  The old logging road had it's share of bent and fallen tree limbs but never required taking skis off.  Eventually the trail disappears under a bit too much of a snowpack and a rugged though beautiful half mile of old growth must be traversed to reach the beginning of the gravel bars.   The last three miles are an absolutely glorious and unique experience in the North Cascades.   Amazing hoar frost formations blanketed the valley and I only had to remove my skis three times for trivial river crossings.  Eventually the river dries up completely leaving you at the source of the Nooksack.  A truly sacred place for any longtime Bellinghamster.

In the upper valley I encountered and followed the tracks of a very large-pawed animal.  As there were no tracks leading back out this got rather exciting as I entered the narrowing confines near the valley's end.   For better or worse no actual encounter resulted.   Evidence of massive avalanches coated the sides of the valley and I was witness to numerous spectacular slides off the sun exposed flanks of Mount Ruth and Icy Peak.   The "Great Trog", a massive boulder bivouac near the head of the valley, was a bit anticlimactic but provided an excellent vantage point of the entire cirque.  The mountain spirits may not actually inhabit the Trog in winter but no doubt they visit from time to time.

With a few more passes that upper valley could offer some of the most scenic track skiing around.

Stats
9 miles in, 9 miles out.
1000' of gain.
28 degrees at the car and 25 degrees in the upper valley (49 degrees on top of Pan Dome Tuesday).
If water levels go up crossing Ruth Creek could involve a calf-high wade.














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Robie
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Re: January 15, 2013 Nooksack Cirque Trail
« Reply #1 on: 01/16/13, 08:19 PM »


How dare you post a report with no turns ? ;.)
I really liked it though!
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jwplotz
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Re: January 15, 2013 Nooksack Cirque Trail
« Reply #2 on: 01/16/13, 08:25 PM »

Gorgeous and soulful trip from you as usual.  Very identifiable sentiment, even though I've never been anywhere near that area.   Thanks.
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dberdinka
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Re: January 15, 2013 Nooksack Cirque Trail
« Reply #3 on: 01/16/13, 09:06 PM »

Thanks John.  One more photo of the incredible hoar frost flowers forming in the river bed.

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HillsHaveEyes
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Re: January 15, 2013 Nooksack Cirque Trail
« Reply #4 on: 01/16/13, 09:25 PM »

Very cool. Looks like goat tracks.
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Scole
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Re: January 15, 2013 Nooksack Cirque Trail
« Reply #5 on: 01/16/13, 10:17 PM »

So speechless- I can't tell you how awesome this is. I've wanted to head up there during the summer and managed to make it up to the wilderness boundary during a low snow winter a couple years ago. Thanks for sharing!
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philfort
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Re: January 15, 2013 Nooksack Cirque Trail
« Reply #6 on: 01/17/13, 04:46 AM »

Really beautiful! Thanks for the report.
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Brian C
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Re: January 15, 2013 Nooksack Cirque Trail
« Reply #7 on: 01/17/13, 08:58 AM »

Really nice day to be out. That Icy in the last pic? I love that area.
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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: January 15, 2013 Nooksack Cirque Trail
« Reply #8 on: 01/17/13, 11:11 AM »

Thanks! Smiley!! At what elevation did continuous snow start?
« Last Edit: 01/17/13, 11:16 AM by Charlie Hagedorn » Logged

dberdinka
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Re: January 15, 2013 Nooksack Cirque Trail
« Reply #9 on: 01/17/13, 11:46 AM »

Continuous snow started somewhere just slightly east of Glacier  Wink.   And yes that's Icy Peak in the last photo.   Sefrit and Nooksack Tower are represented in other photos as well.
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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: January 15, 2013 Nooksack Cirque Trail
« Reply #10 on: 01/17/13, 12:32 PM »

Thanks Wink. Just hunting for information regarding shady valleys up north. It sounds ridiculous, but because valleys are so flat, the difference between a 1700' snowline and 2000' snowline can make a big difference.  ~1' of consolidated snow just outside of Glacier (~1400') would be game-on for long-sought stupidity.

Did it look like sunny aspects had given up >50% of their upper loose-snow crankiness yet? Your photos might say yes?
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RyanPete81
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Re: January 15, 2013 Nooksack Cirque Trail
« Reply #11 on: 01/17/13, 01:43 PM »

I was in this area over the weekend and would estimate ~2+ feet of snow at the 542 DOT shed just west of Hannegan Rd. FS roads are blocked with large snow banks.

Thanks Wink. Just hunting for information regarding shady valleys up north. It sounds ridiculous, but because valleys are so flat, the difference between a 1700' snowline and 2000' snowline can make a big difference.  ~1' of consolidated snow just outside of Glacier (~1400') would be game-on for long-sought stupidity.

Did it look like sunny aspects had given up >50% of their upper loose-snow crankiness yet? Your photos might say yes?
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curmudgeon
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Re: January 15, 2013 Nooksack Cirque Trail
« Reply #12 on: 01/17/13, 06:17 PM »

Continuous snow started somewhere just slightly east of Glacier  Wink.   ...  Sefrit and Nooksack Tower are represented in other photos as well.

Sefrit?  Cloudcap!
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dianerudholm
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Re: January 15, 2013 Nooksack Cirque Trail
« Reply #13 on: 01/17/13, 06:34 PM »

Gorgeous photos. I love the first one and the hoarfrost blooms.
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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: January 15, 2013 Nooksack Cirque Trail
« Reply #14 on: 01/18/13, 10:34 AM »

I was in this area over the weekend and would estimate ~2+ feet of snow at the 542 DOT shed just west of Hannegan Rd. FS roads are blocked with large snow banks.

Thank you! The slow rise in freezing levels through the weekend has put the kibosh on my plan, but I think darn near everything else had lined up.... Thanks!
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Andrew Carey
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Re: January 15, 2013 Nooksack Cirque Trail
« Reply #15 on: 01/19/13, 09:33 PM »

Great report, Darin.  Love the hoarfrost.
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... want your own private skintrack? Better move to the yukon dude. (B'ham Allen, 2011).
...USA: government of the people by corporate proxies for business.

Andy Carey, Nisqually Park, 3500 feet below Paradise
Lynden Don
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Re: January 15, 2013 Nooksack Cirque Trail
« Reply #16 on: 01/20/13, 07:14 AM »

I had read in past reports of guys going up Ruth Creek in the early spring, to access Ruth Mt, but I've never given the Nooksack Cirque any thought.  I think on the next longer winter dry spell I might pack up the bivy gear and head up.

Thanks for the report, great photos.

Don
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If you're not falling down you're not skiing enough.
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