Peaks 15 and 15.5: Davis Peak and Friendship Peak
Elevation: 6400’ (Davis)
Total Mileage: 10.77
Total Elevation Gain: 4417’
Date: June 19, 2019
Left with an extra day to play after our Palouse to Cascades run, we set off with Rich for Davis Peak, which was new to all of us. We traded the eastern Washington sun and heat for a more typical Cascades day of overcast skies and wind. The trail begins by crossing the wild whitewater of the Cle Elum River, then zigs and zags up through evergreen forest. The way to Davis Peak is known as a trail of many switchbacks, and it’s a reputation well earned.
Green trees give way to a large burn, with vibrant sprays of wildflowers blossoming in a forest of charred ghost trees. I was amazed at the variety of wildflowers on display, a riot of color in an otherwise desolate landscape.
Rising above tree line, we could see the Cle Elum River valley unfold below, with Cle Elum Lake rippling in the distance, ringed by peaks.
Traipsing through a meadow of yet more wildflowers, we reached a windbreak at the false summit. The site of an old lookout tower, we took advantage of the windbreak’s protection from the wind that grew steadily, peeking our heads up for views in all directions. We agreed it would be a most excellent campsite to keep in mind for a future outing. We were there for the summit, though, so after a snack we headed onwards and upwards.
The trail became even more fun as we scrambled up to the peak. It was nothing sketchy but exciting enough to keep us on our toes.
The summit offered more grand Cascades views. We visually scouted possible routes to the lakes down below, dreaming up a big adventure for another day.
On the way back down, we scurried up a little rise and named it Friendship Peak in honor of our outing. We went off trail down behind it to scope out other potential camping spots, finding a nice one on a ledge overlooking the river valley below and Jolly and Sasse Mountains in the distance.
Despite tired legs, we picked up the pace on the descent to make quick work of the switchbacks. Rich was still recovering from surgery, so Seth and I waited for him below at the confluence of the Cle Elum and Waptus Rivers. It’s incredible to see rivers rushing like mad, gushing over boulders and shooting through narrow chasms of rock. We typically encounter the wider, tamer versions of these rivers, so it was fun to see their youthful emergence from the mountains.
Rich arrived as the rain began, so we piled into the truck, happy for the time together on what will remain one of my favorite climbs of this 40 for 40 endeavor.