Native Land of the: Nooksack, Coast Salish and Nlaka’pamux
Ruth Mountain is so spectacular it’s a worthy honeymoon destination! It’s a glaciated peak just east of Mount Shuksan in the amazing Skagit Range of the North Cascades! The summit lies within the North Cascades National Park Service Complex, but the west side of the mountain lies within the Mt Baker Snoqualmie National Forest and the Mt Baker Wilderness. It’s perfectly situated between five different valleys that rise steeply into some of the most beautiful and unique mountains in America! You can certainly day hike Ruth but it’s too pretty to rush.
1st Trip: 9/5/2020
My wife Ellie and I wanted to have a mini honeymoon backpacking trip in the North Cascades National Park, so we emailed the park Thursday requesting permits in a few different cross-country zones. With multiple options available we chose the Icy Zone. That was the only zone without another permit taken so we had a good chance to sleep on the summit! Friday afternoon we drove five hours to the Hannegan trailhead near the Mt Baker Ski Area and started hiking with full packs in the heat of the day.
It’s a gentle four mile hike through the Ruth Creek Valley to Hannegan Pass but almost all of it is in the sun and the bugs were out to get us. The hike started off more like a suffermoon but it got better the higher we went. We were thankful we didn’t choose a tougher hike like Snowfield Peak or Mount Shuksan especially considering we both just got over an illness.
What a good looking mountain!
We took a very brief break at the pass thanks to the bugs but seeing Mount Shuksan and the Nooksack Tower from a totally new perspective was a welcomed sight!
After Hannegan Pass we needed to use some veggie belays during a short and steep section. After topping out the trail flattened and the light really started to get nice.
We then wrapped around the rocky slopes of Point 5930. On the other side is a straight shot up Ruth.
We took very few breaks up to this point and were pooped so we decided to setup camp on the saddle and head up in the morning. It was just us and the extraordinary scenery of the American Alps! The suffering was already worth it!
The sunset was amazing but the company was even better!!
We were up before sunrise but there was no rushing this day. We enjoyed the soft light and crisp morning air while having some breakfast. We also walked up Point 5930 for sunrise pictures.
By 7:30am we packed up camp and started heading for the summit.
Eventually we ran out of rock so we geared up to cross the Ruth Glacier late in its season.
We avoided the clear crevasses on the right by heading straight up and traversing back to the normal route.
As we reached the summit we were amazed by the cloud inversion snaking between different river valleys.
We took a few (a lot) of pictures before setting up our tent on a nice pile of rocks with a little rock wall to block the wind. Even on a mountain top we always try to camp where someone has before to leave as little of a trace as possible.
My favorite view was of the Southern Pickets! McMillan Spire, Inspiration Peak, Mount Degenhardt and Mount Terror to name those pictured. Mount Crowder in front.
We thought about a traverse over to Icy Peak which involved using the death gully and roping up on the Icy Glacier but we opted for a relaxing day spent watching the light change! Please excuse the excessive amount of pictures. I’ve never taken more pictures in a day than this one.
Only two other groups summited that day. The first group was friendly and offered to take our picture!
We spent the entire day watching the light change on the mountains like binge watching a TV show.
The valleys and mountains started to clear up around 2pm.
My eyes were starting to hurt from so much staring so we took a little nap in the tent.
The next round of mountain gazing occurred at 5pm and it was especially sweet as we could see every little detail!
The sun began to set around 7pm.
The cloud inversion quickly made a comeback.
The alpenglow looked especially good on Ellie and the Northern Pickets.
This was one of the most incredible days of my life! We took it slow and enjoyed every moment! I could spend every day admiring my favorite person and the mountains like this!
Around 8pm the light began to fade while every valley was re-stuffed with clouds.
We spent the rest of the night in the tent and even had enough service to watch a show on Netflix. We would fall asleep to the sound of the wind smacking our tent and we were awoken by a spectacular sunrise!
More of the same but in a different lighting!
Still couldn’t get over the inversions in every valley.
After being amazed by color we were again amazed this time by the mountain’s shadow.
Eventually we had to pack up and head out. This is no doubt my favorite view in the PNW so far, don’t tell anyone!
The glacier was easy to descend with crampons on. The only concern was near the toe of the glacier but a fall there would be no more than a few feet.
Back on solid ground we soaked the views from the saddle once more before returning to Hannegan Pass and then the trailhead.
We were back in the sun but we were not accompanied by any bugs this time thanks to the cool morning air. We had totally forgotten about the early suffering and were already planning our return!
It was the perfect minimoon with my perfect wife! So looking forward to a lifetime of adventures with her!!