Strawberry Peak Scramble
Sujung, Steve, a friend, and I hiked Strawberry Peak via the Colby Canyon route + peak scramble on Saturday. We had opted not to bring any snow gear due to the fact that the exposed section of the scramble seemed unsafe in snowy conditions. Due to someone stealing my Amazon delivery, I was hiking in seven-year old hiking boots worn to the point of the treads being smoothed (so no traction on wet ground).
The start was lovely: it was perfect hiking weather with a cool breeze, mid-60s temperatures, and the sun shining on our good fortune to be outdoors. Water was flowing so much that a small waterfall had formed with a happy algal layer below, and the trail was surprisingly lush at the start and dry in the sunny regions. The initial scramble was easy and enjoyable--we even skipped the trail in a few spots because alternative scrambling routes called to us (or I just didn't notice the trail due to the beauty the potential scrambling). We continued and passed some snow on the ridge to the peak scramble. With the recent precipitation, the air was clear, and on the ridge we saw out to the islands in the Pacific and the ocean itself. The scene was rare and inspiring. Our spirits were high as we paused for lunch and photos.
However, the peak scramble proper came with the problem of snow. The normal trail that leads to the majority of the scramble was covered in the kind of extra-slick snow that multiple freeze-thaw cycles produce. With the tractionless shoes the snow combined with the exposure made it a no-go for me. Sujung and I found an alternate route to avoid the snowier regions, but we encountered some ice on the rocks that we were climbing in the exposed section of the scramble. Fortunately, Steve and a friend were able to hike the actual trail as the (Su)Jung-Elle path was deemed less safe. We regrouped but our fourth friend did not feel safe on the scramble. I did not feel stoked about a downclimb in icy conditions in my shoes when the rest of the scramble lacked much exposure and much distance. Steve kindly descended with our friend so that he would not be alone. Sujung and I summited. Given the conditions of the peak, I would not recommend the hike in the winter without some level of experience and winter gear. The feet and hands were mostly snow-covered and many falls could have resulted in slipping down the mountain due to the snow and icy layer on top (freeze-thaw-cycles did not help with traction). That being said, the hike was glorious and as always team (su)Jung-Elle Tran had a most lovely and epic adventure.