It was a sunny Friday and I didn’t have to work so I felt compelled to accommodate the weather by summiting a peak I had not done. Florence fit the bill perfectly since it was only an 1:15 to 1:30 away, and as usual, I knew I would not be on the trail until the afternoon. One thing you can count on is that when you are pressed for time, you will get loads of people in the left lane going 55 on I-5, and a few more on Carbon River Rd going 25.
I arrived at the Carbon River Ranger Station, elev 1700 bright and early anyway at the stroke of 245p. I was heading up the interpretive trail by 3p.
At the southern end of the trail (c.15mi) before it loops back toward the parking lot is the turn-off to go up toward the Alki Crest. This was going to be a challenge given the warmer, sunny weather and recent snow. It did not disappoint, and to my surprise, the snow was as good as you could expect. Now, I would not be singing any snow praises had it not been for my snowshoes. BRING THEM if you go. Snow starts to cover the trail around 2900ft,1.25mi up. You’ll cross a nice falls at 1.50mi,3064ft. From here, it was solid snow, but I kept my approach boots on for another half-mile or so (3375ft).
The route is very straight-forward so far as a little dip in the snow cover marked where the trail was. I left the trail here:
http://static.flickr.com/5189/5645769358_d2c817dea3_m.jpg and headed more directly up to Alki Crest, but not as directly as I would have liked. Ideally, at around 4370ft and 3.3mi, I would have gone more to the left (more SE than S) instead of following the slight spine. This would have taken me into a larger flat area where there is a (now snow-covered) lake. Once you reach the Alki Crest at 3.8mi, just stay on the level to slightly up spine ESE and eventually ENE for another .8 miles to the false summit, which is only 20 or so feet lower than the true summit another .15mi to the NE.
Be very careful just below the false summit, and especially in between the false summit and the true summit. The latter is very narrow with significant snow built up. There are a few tricky spots there and a little exposure, but not too bad. The short 50ft rock scramble (class 2-3) below the summit has some snow on it, but very easy. I took my snowshoes off there before going up.
There were several inches of new snow covering a nice consolidated layer, but it would have been a post-holing nightmare c3500ft.
Time up: Approx 2:30 (Including blister first aid)
Distance to true summit: 4.75mi
Round trip distance: 9.44mi
Elev gain: 4243
Base elev: 1700
Top elev: 5530
Gear needed: SNOWSHOES,microspikes, poles with baskets, Ice axe
GPS of route: