In the land of Dixie

My year of wilderness adventures got off to a good start yesterday with two new summits in the bag – Dixie Peak and Mt. Teneriffe. It’s likely that many of you have heard of Teneriffe, but Dixie is probably somewhat of a mystery. (Go ahead…search for it…it’s unlikely you’ll find it on a Washington topo. Here’s a hint: it’s a minor peak located more-or-less between Mt. Si and Mt. Teneriffe.)

We left the trailhead at 8 a.m. and ascended the old “scramble” route to Teneriffe Falls, being careful to stay away from the watershed. (If you’re wondering where Teneriffe Falls is, it’s actually Kamikaze Falls. The signs on the trail now call it Teneriffe Falls. Who decides these things anyway?)

From the falls, we continued our no-mercy ascent to the ridge leading to the summit of Teneriffe. (I refuse to call this part of the journey a hike anymore. Anything requiring your hands for balance is no longer a hike in my book.) We continued up the ridge until about 4400′ then traversed over to the minor bump to the east of Teneriffe. From there we descended through forest, then on a logging road to a 4100′ saddle.

Conditions up high were interesting – alternating between ice and ice with snow drifts on top. Our microspikes were not really up to the challenge. For starters they weren’t quite long enough to bite into the ice buried under snow drifts. Second, they balled up worse than any crampon I’ve ever worn and wouldn’t clear with a knock of an ice ax. Now, we could have changed into crampons, but that would have been too easy. I also wouldn’t have a story to share about gear malfunctions!

At the saddle, logging roads disappeared in three directions, but we chose the forested ridge leading to the open summit of Dixie (pictured above). About 45 minutes later, we were enjoying tea and sandwiches on the summit. Sounds civilized doesn’t it?

On the way back, my near-constant pestering to also tag Teneriffe prevailed. Even the reluctant souls agreed that an extra 250′ of elevation gain wouldn’t hurt. And it was definitely worth it! Mt. Rainier never disappoints when the skies are clear 🙂

The descent was spicy near the top, owing to our less than ideal microspikes. Once we were off the ice and snow though, we made good time dropping down the ridge and eventually back to the trailhead.

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