Monday, December  10, 2018
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Alrighty then! Day two of our Frosty Mountain Manning Provincial Park Backpack. We were ready for some awesome views of the North Cascades. Right? mmm... maybe not. We emerged to... clouds and drizzle.

WTF? The forecast hadn't specified this. Am I cursed? Is some cosmic force sending down the mists as soon as I get near any sort of high ground? Sigh.
Up, up and away
Maybe it was temporary - just in the morning. Maybe we'd get above it. Blah, whatever. Time to pack up, time to go, and no use whining too much about it.

From Frosty Camp, we continued up the Frosty Mountain Trail. The snow cover was still discontinuous, but less and less so as we ascended, and it became harder and harder to pick out where the trail went, slowing us down. Soon the snow cover was continuous, and there was no sign of any tracks. So, straight routefinding via map and terrain. Fortunately, we were starting to emerge into subalpine meadows, making it easier to avoid having to do any sort of bushwhacking. (Please note - if you are using my tracklog for your own purposes: our track and the actual trail vary from place to place along this section because we couldn't see the trail).
That Rosty Guy...
Larch Trees
Deciduous Conifer
Lining the edges of these bits of open meadows were many stands of alpine larch tree, a unique species that has a combination of characterstics of both coniferous and deciduous trees. It has needles, like a conifer, but they turn color and fall, like leafy deciduous trees. Alpine larches can also grow to be very old, and some of the bigger instances here were probably 2000 years old These trees grow at a specific higher altitude (we were at about 6700 feet / 2000m), and in fact - this spot in Manning Park is the furthest west they grow in North America.
Increasingly meadowy
Crossing Meadows
Frosty Rib
We trudged across the snowy open meadows in the general direction of Frosty Mountain - whose upper reaches were hidden in cloud. The cloud at our current elevation was less dense, and occasionally we got a glimpse of lower layers and even a few glimpses of nearby ridges, streaked with snowfields. These periods of limited clarity were short, however, and more often than not a drizzly cloud bank would envelop us. At one point it rained a little more heavily and we waited it out under some larch trees for a few minutes. wonderful.
Mauree and Kyle
Infrequent Markers
Steeper Snow
Following the crest of a northern rib of Frosty Mountain, we continued our ascent. The snow wasn't the perfect hardness for walking, and it varied (occasionally it would be very soft, but then would firm up a few steps later), but overall it wasn't too bad. It still wasn't the nice summer corn snow that I always envision for these sorts of trips.
Steeper Snow
A brief bit of sunlight
Alpine Terrain Ahead
I wasn't exactly sure how the trail crossed the upper reaches of Frosty Mountain, and I worried that some constructed or cut section across a steep slope would be snowed in and rendered more difficult as a result. Fortunately, however, things became clearer as we emerged into the rocky alpine terrain near the summit. Here, wind and direct unfettered sunlight had melted off an area of scree and we could faintly see the trail again - a fairly straightforward ascent up to Frosty's summit ridgecrest.
Choosing the route
Open Scree
Scree climb to ridge
Arriving at the summit ridgecrest, we were greeted with a "use extreme caution past this point" sign. From here the official trail started to descend, heading down towards Windy Joe Mountain and the continuation of our loop. As an optional side trip we could "mountaineer it" along the summit ridgeline to the summit. Except there was a chill wind, it was wet, and the visibility was virtually nil. In other words, not much motivation for hitting the summit. So.... guess what? yep - once again (twice in the same week this time), I'm on an outing where we decided to forego the summit.
Descent Ridge
Kyle at Ridgeline
Summit Ridgeline
From the summit ridgecrest, a section of bare slope revealed the obvious trail heading down our new ridgeline, this one heading east towards Windy joe Mountain. We got a few bits of scenery tossed at us by the cloud gods, mostly of an ethereal mountain scene south to the peaks in the US (we are literally only about 800 yards north of the US border here).

Once we got down far enough that scrubby trees started to be present, the snow cover resumed, and it was solid for about 1500 feet of elevation, down to about 6000 feet. Again it was a bit slushy and wet but mostly held our weight. Nevertheless, it was good to be back on solid trail again.
Mystical US Peaks
Good Glissading Snow
Gravity is our friend
The next section of the Frosty Mountain trail is pleasant enough - if a bit monotonous - and brought us down to a forested saddle where we merged with the Pacific Crest Trail. To our right, the trail headed south towards "Monument 78", where it crossed into the U.S. To the north, it headed to the northern terminus of the PCT, where our car was parked.

Since the start of our descent from the summit ridge, the drizzle and close-in mists had stopped. Now, however, down here in the forest, there were no more lookouts to be found, no views to be seen, even if it had cleared.
Back to bare ground
Nearing Windy Joe
Back on the PCT
6km again?
Beautiful PCT
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