Little Lundin Peak, Alpine Lakes Wilderness
With every intention of scrambling up Red Mountain in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, I set out just after rush hour on a beautiful Thursday morning for Snoqualmie Pass. The PCT trailhead held more than a dozen cars, which I thought odd given that most people have to work on Thursdays. It was good to be back on the PCT, particularly this section, and I spent most of the forty minutes hiking up it recalling good times and friends. At the junction with the Commonwealth Basin trail I left the PCT and ran into two men also intent on climbing Red Mountain. As they were engaged in a discussion about the merits of HDTV, I powered past and attacked the inclined trail, hoping to get something like a work out. I passed a woman moving slowly but surely up the trail, perhaps heading also to Red Mountain. The trail flattened out in a basin holding Red Pond. To the right was Red Mountain and a trail even led in that direction. For some reason, I declined to take that trail and just kept heading straight toward Lundin Peak. To the right of Lundin was a minor peak which does not seem to be named. To give it some personality, I call it Little Lundin. It turned out that that was what I was heading for.
July 28, 2005
As the trail switchbacked up toward Lundin, it dawned on me that I was not going to get to Red Mountain going in this direction. For one thing, there wasn't supposed to be a trail to the top of it. For another, my guide book mentioned a constant 40 degree slope and what I was following was much easier. Perhaps most convincing was the fact that I wasn't in the direction of Red Mountain at all. I didn't especially care, as my trail was going high and the view from one place is about the same as it is from another. I reached a "Trail Abandoned Sign" and kept moving forward. The trail stayed in good shape and I topped out on Little Lundin rather lathered, but very happy.
Red Mountain was just next door, perhaps fifty or a hundred feet higher. There was no chance of reaching the top of Lundin from where I stood, as a formidable downclimb would be necessary, followed by some awkward scrambling. No matter, I was content.
The scars of the Snoqualmie Pass ski area provided a nice contrast to the bulk of Mount Rainier. I sat on top for forty minutes working on my tan and wondering where all the people were. I always seem to do this when I find a great place and no one else is around. However, one of the benefits of the mountains of Washington is that just about every place is beautiful, which means there is room for all.
From Lakewood, drive I-5 north to State Highway 18 and follow this to I-90. Head east on I-90 to exit 52 (marked as "West Summit") and get off the interstate. Make a left from the off ramp and drive a hundred feet or so to the entrance for the PCT trailhead. You'll need a Northwest Forest Pass to park legally, or something like the Golden Eagle Passport, which is what I have. Hike the PCT northbound to the Commonwealth Basin trail and follow this until it ends on top of Little Lundin peak. If you want to hike up Red Mountain instead, I think you need to follow a spur trail heading right just after you gain the basin that holds Red Pond (you won't see the pond at this point, though). It took me an hour and forty five minutes to get up, and the same time to get down. If you're not used to hiking uphill, you might want to plan on 3-4 hours to get up to the top and another 2 hours down. The distance is about 5 miles and the trail gains approximately 2800 feet.