Church Mountain & Hannegan Peak

Anne and I took the weekend to get out of the city and do a little camping up in Mt. Baker. The weather forecast was awesome, if not a little hot, and was a great break from the “Junuary” that Seattle has been having. We (Anne) managed to secure a last minute reservation in the Silver Fir campground and with just a little prep, we were off for a nice weekend of hiking and camping.

Our itinerary had us climbing up Church Mountain on Saturday (the bigger day) and then doing Hannegan Pass/Peak on Sunday. Since the Hannegan day was less elevation gain, we figured that would get us back to Seattle at a decent hour.

The trip up Church was relatively uneventful. The path was snow free until the upper basin where there was snow up to the lookout. We dutifully put on our gaiters and pulled out the ice axes and started the traverse across the basin. Since the ridge prevented the prevailing winds from reaching our side of the basin, the hike up to the ridge seemed more like a hike in a blast furnace than the pleasant walk on snow it should have been. However, it wasn’t long before we gained the ridge and made our way to the old lookout site.

Below us in the meadow (south slope) there was a family of five mountain goats grazing on grass. Across the ridge, about a quarter mile away, we could see a mother black bear and her cub grazing in another meadow.


(bears in the meadow)

We ate lunch at the lookout, and I took a quick panorama before we headed down towards the car and a warm dinner that beaconed in Glacier.

The trip up to Hannegan Peak on Sunday involved less wildlife but had other surprises. The trail to Hannegan Pass leads up a long valley that is subject to myriad avalanche slopes in winter. While the trails weren’t in imminent avalanche threat, the aftermath from the winter had left some debris on the trail in several locations. As well, some of the many streams that crossed the path had treacherous crossings. I took a minor tumble down one destroyed creek crossing. Other places the streams were flowing fast and deep, causing us to ponder the best way to cross without getting our feet soaked in the process.

Despite these small challenges, the scenery was wonderful and the early morning shade kept the trip cool and enjoyable. We hit snow just before Hannegan Camp, where we started the march directly uphill to gain the pass and the ridge up to Hannegan Peak. The slope was steep, and I was pretty thankful to have an ice axe for protection.


We finally gained the ridge, took a quick break to cool down (by now the sun was out and the full heat of the day was making itself known), and heading the remaining several hundred feet to the summit, lunch, and the obligatory summit panorama.

The trip down required a little care since we didn’t want to go down the steep snow slope we ascended. Fortunately, we found a more reasonable route through the trees on climber’s right that had the benefit of shading us from the now pounding heat. The rest of the trip back to the car was uneventful, if somewhat hot and dusty. Overall, a great day in the mountains with wonderful panoramic views of Mt. Baker, the Picket range, and the rest of the North Cascades!