When fall arrives and the colors begin to change in the high country, it’s time for the EXPED USA team to visit Ladybug Peak.
Now, this isn’t its “real” name - it doesn’t have one. Its only designation on the map is an elevation: 6,567’. But who cares about official names when we can give a place our own playful moniker! Friends of ours have called this little pyramid-shaped summit Ladybug for years. And it really does have ladybugs at the top. Hiding in the rocks we found hundreds of them tucked away, seemingly preparing for the snow and cold of winter that will be along soon.
Ted and Lisa made their escape right after work on Friday, hiking to camp by headlamp. In the morning they packed up and scrambled up the west ridge to the summit. The plan was to camp right there on top, but it became immediately clear that a lack of flat space wasn’t going to allow it. They dropped camping gear and explored several ridges while waiting for Kate and Kaj to catch up. These two drove from the Seattle area to the trailhead just east of Mount Rainier National Park and made their way to the top, arriving about 1pm. Hugs all around and a bit of lunch while taking in the vast, 360 degree views. Washington state is known for its glacier-covered volcanos and several of them were out in full on this sunny weekend. Mt. Rainier (Tahoma), just 14 miles from Ladybug, was in fine form to the west. To the south we could see Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and, in the far distance, Mt. Hood in Oregon. Brilliant stuff!
After lunch we dropped back down the ridge and found some tent sites that looked comfortable. We soaked up the afternoon sun and prepared a meal and had a laugh. But it is October and when the sun dropped below the trees out came the down garments and camp booties. The sun set behind Rainier, driving us into the tents for a long night and catching up on sleep. This particular night was calm and cool and the ground was already totally frozen. In the morning we chased patches of sun around camp, removing layers as we warmed and ate our meal. As we packed up for the hike back to the cars, birds of prey caught thermals and they sailed off along the ridges in search of their own breakfast.
As is always the case, our trips allow us to use the gear we help to make. Here’s a list of the key items of EXPED gear we used for this cool-weather outing:
- Explore 45 wms pack (coming in March 2019)
- Explore 75 pack
- Lightning 45 pack
- Skyline 25 pack
- Mira II tents
- Hyperquilt Duo
- Comfort wms sleeping bag (coming in March 2019)
- SynMat HL Duo mat
- Schnozzel Pumpbag UL
- Mat Sheet Hyper Duo
- MultiMat Uno and Duo
- Air Pillow UL
- Camp Booty
- Camp Slipper
- Down Sock
When the snow piles up, we might just return for some backcountry skiing on Ladybug. Its a friendly peak in all seasons.