After a couple of weeks off, I was eager to get out again. I had wanted to return to Hannegan Peak several weeks ago but it wasn’t in the cards. Hannegan Peak is a 10 mile roundtrip day with 3,500 feet of elevation gain. Once atop the peak, you are treated with tremendous views of the North Cascades, Mount Shuksan, and Mount Baker. Even before reaching the summit, the hike provides views of crystal clear Ruth Creek and snow capped Ruth Mountain.
From the trailhead, the trail climbs towards Hannegan Pass over 4 miles. The lower stretch of trail is alive with a wide variety of plants and wildflowers. I saw lots of Columbine, Cow Parsnip, Penstemon, and Tiger Lilly in bloom. The upper half of the hike spends more time in the forest and included Queens Cup and Sitka Valerian in bloom. A half mile before Hannegan Pass lies the turnoff for Hannegan Camp, a backcountry camp in a beautiful sub-alpine setting.
The final half-mile up to the pass includes some open meadows which were in between stages- too early for the main wildflower display but too late for the Glacier Lillies. Hannegan Pass proper is a forested pass with some minor views to the northeast. The pass is really just a busy junction. To the right is the way trail that climbers use to climb Mount Ruth. Straight ahead the trail drops down into the North Cascades National Park and the Chilliwack River valley, providing access to Copper Ridge, Easy Ridge, and Whatcom Pass.
To reach Hannegan Peak, the trail the heads left from the pass is the choice. From the pass, it’s one mile and another 1,200 feet to the summit plateau. The trail switchbacks through meadows as the views get bigger and bigger. A final snow slope brings you up to the wide summit plateau and a short stroll over to the true summit.
The views from the top are some of finest I’ve seen in the Cascades. A full 360 degrees provide ample eye candy: Goat Mountain, Mount Larrabee, Copper Mountain, Mount Redoubt, Whatcom Peak, Mount Challenger, Mount Blum, Ruth Mountain, Mount Shuksan, Mount Baker and hundreds of other peaks. I spent about an hour on the top taking photos before beginning the long hike out.
While on the summit, I tried out an iPhone app that I had picked up recently: Peaks from Augmented Outdoors. Using the iPhone’s GPS and compass, it attempts to label mountains and peaks in your vicinity. It works without a cellphone connection so it’s perfect for backcountry use. You can take a snapshot of what you see and then share it later via email or Twitter. I opted for the screenshot of the app in use:
The accuracy of the labels is only as good as the calibration of the iPhone’s compass. In my use, most of the labels were in the ballpark but a few were off what I thought to be a bit much. I didn’t realize it at the time but you can fix errors like what I saw while using the app. Oh well! The app costs $2.99 in the App Store. The only improvement in it that I’d like to see is a slider that restricts the search results from the user by distance. This is a feature of a similar program (Peak.ar) that’s free but requires a cellular network in order to operate.