Lower Ice Lake, 08/27/09-08/29/09

Somehow, I found myself with an extended weekend at the very end of August; Nicole didn’t.  Thus, the table was set for my Second Annual Solo Backpacking Trip, a trip set to coincide with my twenty-ninth birthday.  Certain conditions were to be met.  The hike couldn’t be too high on our must-do list, because Nicole wouldn’t be along to enjoy it.  I also wanted something that would challenge me.  And why not make something that’s a little further away than our normal weekend overnighter?

In the end, I decided on Ice Lakes, via the Entiat River.  100 Hikes… put the round-trip mileage at ~28 and recommended allowing 3-5 days.  Ice Lakes were on my list, and the criterion fit.  I’d be carrying a heavy backpack (~45lbs) but reasoned that the elevation gain would be spread over so much mileage that it’d be no problem.  More training for the Canadian Rockies!  My itinerary was flexible: I’d leave Thursday, make the lakes Friday, spend Saturday exploring or summiting Mt. Maude, and return Sunday. Or, if the forecasted thunderstorms came to fruition, I might return Saturday instead.  Whatevs.

I left straight from work on Thursday around 12:30, and pulled into the trailhead parking lot at the end of Entiat River Road at 16:00.  The drive was nice, taking me past Leavenworth for the first time through Wenatchee and north along the Columbia River through an interesting landscape.  Though there were signs warning of big horn sheep crossings, I saw none.

I booted up and hit the trail at 16:20, setting a comfortably quick pace in order to put as many easy miles behind me as possible on the first day.  The trail starts off wide and dry, mixed-use as it is (hikers, horses, motorcycles).  The trees turn from somewhat unhealthy-looking to fully fire-scarred and destroyed as one makes progress down the Entiat River trail.

Evidence of a burn.

Evidence of a burn.

At 17:55, I entered Glacier Peak Wilderness, ~4.2 miles from the trailhead.  The trail narrowed.  Deer met me head-on on the trail.  The sun lowered behind the ridge to the west.  Every snap, crackle, and pop in the forest had me looking over my shoulder; I attributed each one to another deer, fearing a bear or cougar as the sounds stalked me along the trail.  I realized only later that the heat of the day had gone from the naked, burned trees.  And now they contracted in the shade like an old house in night’s silence.

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Navaho Peak, 06/28/09

Somehow, Nicole and I had yet to truly reach a summit. It’s probably because we’d never picked a hike with the summit of a mountain as our destination. On Mt. Aix, we came close, only to be turned back by fear and thunderclouds. At Marmot Pass earlier this year, summiting Buckhorn Mtn. had been a thought until full backpacks and bum knees made us think otherwise. So reaching a summit was overdue, and Nicole in particular really wanted to accomplish that goal.

Mt. Stuart and The Enchantments Range from Navaho Peak.

Mt. Stuart and The Enchantments Range from Navaho Peak.

Cousin Bobby, who accompanied us on our hike to Goat Lake two weekends ago and didn’t break a sweat the entire time, wanted to go out again. We wanted to take him somewhere impressive, as we only have a few more free weekends until his internship ends. We also wanted to make him sweat.

Our friend David, who just returned from teaching English in Mexico for ~1.75 years and is staying with us at the moment, insisted that he had boundless energy and didn’t want to be left behind. He may have been exaggerating, and he might be regretting his decision at this very moment.

Our destination was chosen earlier in the week: Navaho Peak, in the Teanaway area. Like last week, we were unpleasantly surprised to find that Navaho Pass was declared WTA’s Hike of the Week. Undeterred by this obvious and repetitive display of telepathic plagiarism, we kept the plans in place as they were.

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Spider Meadow & Spider Gap, 09/07/08-09/08/08

When the weekend neared and Nicole brought home a recommendation of Spider Meadow, I immediately and enthusiastically agreed, having seen a number of trip reports earlier this summer about that very location.  A Sunday-night backpack it was.

Spider Meadow panorama.

Spider Meadow panorama.

Spider Meadow sits in the Phelps Creek basin some 25 miles north of Lake Wenatchee, within Glacier Peak Wilderness.  We planned on camping at the far end of the meadow, setting up a base camp, and–if energy permitted–exploring the area up to and including Spider Glacier and Spider Gap.  We took our time rolling out of bed on Sunday morning, and pulled out of West Seattle at 06:18.  Driving over to and along US-2 is approaching autopilot status, and before we knew it we were turning north towards Lake Wenatchee.  It’s just a few more miles before the turnoff up Chiwawa River Road, and then a long ~25 miles to the trailhead.  (We timed this portion of the drive on the way out, and it took ~45 minutes.)

On the way in, only a few miles down the road, we saw two backpackers on the side of the road, and picked up our first hitchhikers.  They were completing the Washington portion of the Pacific Crest Trail, which they’d had to abandon earlier due to injury.  We took them up to Trinity and the Buck Creek Pass trailhead, saving them a whole lot of road-walking.  (Though with the popularity of the trails in the area, they probably wouldn’t have had to wait long for another ride.)  After dropping them off, we turned around and drove up to our trailhead, which sits at the end of Road #6211.  It was 09:30 by that time, putting the drive time just over three hours (including a stop for gasoline and the hitchers).

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Lake Ingalls, 08/03/08

After a one-weekend hiking hiatus (which actually amounts to about fourteen days, and felt like every minute of it) we were determined to make the most of our common day off, and get out and hike.  Since we’re still left with just Sundays–a temporary situation, we hope–we weren’t looking for an overnighter, and it had to be something marginally nearby.  I’d seen a trip report or two for Lake Ingalls lately, so I kept that in my mind as Nicole and I set about our routine of searching websites and guidebooks for other possibilities.  I wouldn’t call it wasted time, but in the end, we decided on Lake Ingalls anyway.  I think I can speak for the both of us when I say that we’re glad we did.

Panorama at Lake Ingalls.

Panorama at Lake Ingalls. Click if you care to embiggen.

Lake Ingalls sits just inside the Alpine Lake Wilderness boundary, in the Teanaway area of Washington State.  In years past, almost all of our hikes ended at an alpine–or, more likely, at that time, sub-alpine lake.  Mason Lake, Lake Valhalla, Rachel Lake, Watson Lakes…  We loved rewarding ourselves with a cool dip or cold plunge and some time spent resting before the return down.  This year, somehow, we’d yet to take a hike with a lake for a reward; the Pacific Ocean doesn’t count.  Lake Ingalls, which sits at an elevation of about 6500’, sounded perfect.

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Nason Ridge, 07/20/08

A Monday commitment meant that we were left searching for a Sunday day hike, and this time Nicole made the call: Nason Ridge, right between US-2 and Lake Wenatchee. Actually, she’s supposed to be writing up this trip report, but it seems we’ll have to settle for some of her comments and impressions on this hike toward the end of this entry. Or look for a separate post from her on this topic. So: based on the trip reports, we expected a moderately difficult hike with no snow, decent views, an alpine lookout, and the high possibility of a mountain goat encounter. We weren’t disappointed.

Like many, we approached Nason Ridge via Round Mountain Trail #1529. Green Trails Map #145 (Wenatchee Lake) shows three ways up to Nason Ridge from US-2, but the route up Round Mountain has the advantage of having the highest starting elevation, at 3900’. The trailhead sits at the end of Road 6910, which is maybe 1/4 mile east of the Nason Creek Rest Area–we knew it was coming, and we still ended up missing it and turning around (look for a driveway with mailboxes and a small 6910 sign) . The road up to the trailhead is in suitable shape for most anyone–we took the Focus this time, and had no problem making it the ~4 miles to the trailhead.

We arrived at the trailhead at 09:55 to find five other cars and an outhouse, which we didn’t use because we’d stopped at the rest area just minutes before. We’d left West Seattle at 07:35, and run into minimal traffic, so that’s a little over two hours of driving time. We stepped out of the car to put on our boots and were immediately greeted by hungry mosquitoes. After applying sunscreen and bug dope, we set off. 10:10.

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