Gothic Basin, 08/15/09-08/16/09

For various reasons, we hadn’t backpacked in—I just checked—two months!  A fine amount of dayhiking, sure, but what with our upcoming trip to the Canadian Rockies, I felt we needed a bit more conditioning.  And I thought maybe, just maybe, we’d get some clear skies.  After shortening our list earlier in the week to three possible destinations, we decided we’d spend Saturday night in Gothic Basin.

Gothic Basin worked its way onto my must-do list way back when.  As sometimes happens when time passes, details regarding degree of difficulty slipped away from me, replaced only by snapshot statistics: 2600′ elevation gain, ~10 miles round-trip.  No problem.

We were up early enough Saturday morning, and on the road at 05:05.  I felt an early start was important, since we needed to find a campsite.  At 06:55, we pulled onto the side of the road at Barlow Pass, and were walking down the gated road to Monte Cristo ten minutes later.  Low clouds and fog made visibility poor.

Holding...

Holding...

Fifteen minutes after squeezing through the posts on either side of the Monte Cristo gate the road is really closed, and a trail is routed above the washed out road along the South Fork Sauk River.  I’d read that it wasn’t necessary to take the re-route, so we continued along the remains of the road, which wasn’t difficult, but does require that you watch where you step.  We’d be watching each step closely later on, too.

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Blanca Lake, 07/26/09

We hadn’t yet combined car camping and day hiking this summer, and Cousin Bobby’s number of free weekends before his internship ends can be counted on one finger, so it was decided that we’d head out and camp somewhere Saturday and then hike on Sunday. Blanca Lake has been high on my to-do list for several years—basically since I picked up my first 100 Hikes… book. While researching the hike, I found out that the shorter approach to the trailhead via FS63 (Index-Galena Rd) was inaccessible due to a road closure, but the trailhead was still reachable via FS65 (AKA Beckler River Rd). I thought this might deter some people and keep the trail slightly less busy. So it was decided that we’d head up FS65 seeking a suitable and free camping site and hike up to Blanca Lake the next day.

North Fork Skykomish River near our campsite.

North Fork Skykomish River near our campsite.

Roommate David loaded up the cooler, the back of the Forester was full, and we stopped off in Mill Creek to pick up Cousin Bobby around 09:45 on Saturday morning. After an easy cruise on US-2 through Skykomish, we turned left on Beckler River Rd, which is also a pretty smooth ride, until it first turned to gravel and then intersected with FS63. Along the way there were several choice campsites along the water, but all were taken. Once we turned up FS63, the road became smaller and we were slightly worried we wouldn’t find a nice place to camp. We passed by the trailhead to Blanca lake and came a little closer to the North Fork Skykomish River, eventually finding a decent little grassy campsite with a fire pit and easy access to the water. By noon we were setting up our tents and settling in.

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