January 27-28th, 2007

After a still winter night I awoke with the impression that some question had been put to me, which I had been endeavoring in vain to answer in my sleep, as what, how, when, where? But there was dawning Nature, in whom all creatures live, looking in at my broad windows with serene and satisfied face, and no question on her lips. I awoke to an answered question, to Nature and daylight. The snow lying deep on the earth dotted with young pines, and the very slope of the hill on which my house is placed, seemed to say, Forward!

~ Henry David Thoreau

Photos and story by Jason Hummel


The Pickets have the reputation of being big, burly and mean. But they can be kind to, they can be glorious, and they can be absolutely the most amazing place you could ever set foot in anywhere in the Washington Cascades.

During this past January weekend I was privileged to meet the kinder, gentler Pickets, and I am so excited about it, I can’t do anything else but sit here and write about everything before the thrill has diminished.

From north of Highway 20 above Newhalem you can see the Southern Pickets far up Goodell Creek. Early Saturday morning with Phil and Sky, this is where I found myself. With November’s torrential rains, the road to the trailhead was washed out, so we parked at the rock quarry before preparing to skin up the road. The elevation here, 500-ft!!! I don’t know what I was more surprised of, the size of Sky’s pack or the low-level snow pack.

That morning the sun wasn’t out yet, but the sky was pristine, lacking any and all clouds. The day before I had told sky, “If we get corn snow, I owe you beer and pizza.” It was looking like we had one heck of a chance for butter snow, which was fine by me. Beer and pizza is honestly a screaming deal for a chance at winter-spring snow in the Picket Range .

You can’t beat that.

Several places we were unsure of where to go, but we were able to pick up the old road grade until it ended, at which point we headed up. The trees are dense in a few places, and there are steep portions, but for the most part this was a nice direct approach. That is until we busted out of the trees. It’s a several mile traverse from here over to Terror Basin where first views of Triumph, Despair and the Chopping Block (The Stump, etc.) stopped us in our tracks. The fluted slopes, shadowed glaciers and airy summits couldn’t help but be appreciated in their winter coats. Even now it warms me up just thinking about it. My spirit was getting a refill and by nightfall it’d be topped off, not to mention the day to come!!!

Along our traverse a pass must be surmounted. Once there, we didn’t stay long, as the sun was falling behind the mountains to the west, and the wind was picking up. It’s as if wind rises in the mountains whenever sunset or sunrise nears. We chased the light down from the exposed ridge several hundred feet where we set up camp and shelter for the night. Sky did a great job melting water until darkness set in and the stars and moon appeared. It was only wind and cold that finally forced us to submit to sleep.

I went to bed with a smile on my face.

Go to>>> PAGE TWO


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