WA – Alpine Lakes Wilderness – Chiwaukum Circumnavigation (Part 4 – Trails 1591/1574/1584)

Links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

This is the drainage I fought my way through. In the far distance is Icicle Ridge and Cape Horn. 

After far too many miles and hours of bushwhacking and trail finding, I was ecstatic to reach the well maintained trails near Scottish Lakes High Camp, and Chiwaukum Lake.

Heading toward Larch Lake in Ewing Basin. 

First views of Larch Lake. 

Loved watching the development of these clouds. 

My campsite view of Larch Lake. 

The outflow of Larch Lake and the east side of the Chiwaukum Mountains.

Watching the larch trees turn color is on my bucket list for this fall. I was happy for this opportunity to get to know them first sporting green. 

After a rainy night, sunrise provided colorful skies accented by larch tree silhouettes. 

Pink clouds rolled in and out during the early morning hours. 

Campsite selection is key during gusty wind and heavy rain storms. This site was PERFECT! 

The incoming storm and worsening conditions prevented me from discovering Cup Lake. 

Hello Larch Tree! 

Goodbye Chiwaukum Lake . . . 

It was finally time to say goodbye to the Chiwaukum Creeks trails and head to McCue Ridge. 

I’m sure McCue Ridge would have provided some spectacular views, but alas it was a day of low clouds and precipitation. 

Loch Eileen (after a very stormy night in a less than ideal campsite). 

Lake Julius

Lake Ethel 

Who lives at Lake Ethel? To me it looks like a fish with a frog on it’s back, or maybe a mama whale and her baby?

I enjoyed this ridge walk though an old clear cut . . . easy to appreciate views and freedom after all the bushwhacking and trail finding I’d done. 

After the ridge walk, it’s a steep descent down to the Lake Ethel trailhead and Highway 2. 

This sign was confusing, as my map listed this as trail #1585. All the rest of the signed trail numbers matched my map. I’ve also seen this referenced as the Gill Creek trail (I believe that’s how it’s signed on Highway 2).

To complete the loop, I walked Roads 6940 and 6950. Lucky for me a couple of miles before my car, a nice couple who’d just completed a 3-day backpack trip were headed out and turned around to give me a lift.

This Chiwaukum Mountains circumnavigation route was about 50 miles with 15,000′ gain and loss. My solar charger broke so I wasn’t able to track the entire trip thus I don’t have accurate stats for elevation gain/loss and mileage. On the below map, the red was my tracked trip vs the purple was estimated.

The trail sections marked below in green are well maintained; those in red have NOT been maintained.

  • 2.4 miles – White Pine Trailhead  to Whitepine Creek 
  • 5.7 miles – Whitepine Creek to Lake Grace Junction 
  • 1.1 miles – Lake Grace Junction to Lake Grace 
  • 1.1 miles – Lake Grace to Lake Grace Junction
  • 0.9 miles – Lake Grace Junction to Frosty Pass
  • 0.9 miles – Frosty Pass to Lake Mary
  • 2.0 miles – Lake Mary to Icicle Ridge Junction
  • 1.8 miles – Icicle Ridge Junction to Chatter Creek Junction
  • 1.5 miles – Chatter Creek Junction to Index Creek Junction
  • 2.8 miles – Index Creek Trail
  • 1.7 miles – South Fork Chiwaukum Creek from Index Creek to Painter Creek
  • 1.5 miles – South Fork Chiwaukum Creek from Painter Creek to Chiwaukum Creek
  • 1.8 miles – Chiwaukum Creek from South Fork Chiwaukum Creek to Glacier Creek
  • 2.3 miles – Chiwaukum Creek from Glacier Creek to Chiwaukum Lake
  • 2.1 miles – Chiwaukum Lake to Larch Lake
  • 2.1 miles – Larch Lake to Chiwaukum Lake
  • 3.4 miles – Chiwaukum Lake to Roaring Creek
  • 1.1 miles – Roaring Creek to Loch Eileen
  • 1.1 miles – Loch Eileen to Roaring Creek
  • 2.6 miles – Roaring Creek to Lake Ethel
  • 4.6 miles – Lake Ethel to Lake Ethel Trailhead
  • 6.0 miles – Roads 6940/6950

Dates Hiked: August 3-9, 2016


Jan’s Tips:

  • Consider accessing the nicer sections (above 6,000′) via more popular trails
  • If you plan to hike the unmaintained trail sections, be sure to have good maps, compass and if like me you’ll find GPS very helpful. Also be prepared for bushwhack conditions and plenty of solitude.
  • As I’ve learned, rain can happen anytime in the Washington Cascades. I used my rain gear, including my umbrella.
  • Be prepared for biting flies. They were horrendous!
  • I recommend Heidleburger Drive-In in Leavenworth for post-trip celebration. Onion rings were A+!
  • For help with trip planning, I recommend Leavenworth Mountain Sports.
  • Permits are by self-registration at the trailhead.
  • More Jan Jaunts posts in Washington and Alpine Lakes Wilderness


WA – Alpine Lakes Wilderness – Chiwaukum Circumnavigation (Part 3 – Trails 1570/1572/1571)

Links to Part 1 and Part 2

Although I was still on the Icicle Ridge Trail, sadly I was done with ridge walking.

From the junction of the Chatter Creek Trail (1580), trail maintenance became an issue. See the cairn? 

From the Icicle Ridge Trail (1570), I took the Index Creek Trail (1572) to the South Fork Chiwaukum Creek Trail (1571).

And then to 1591, North Fork Chiwaukum Trail.

This view provided an opportunity to look back at Cape Horn and Icicle Ridge. 

This aspen grove in Timothy Meadow was a highlight of this section. 

Old growth Aspen? Sure is a big trunk! 

Of course the many wildflowers and butterflies kept me distracted and were a bit of a reward for the hard work and lack of views.

Plentiful water helped balance out the negatives of these miles. 

From the junction of 1570 & 1580 (Icicle Ridge & Chatter Creek) through Index Creek (1572), South Fork Chiwaukum Creek (1571), North Fork Chiwaukum Creek (1591) all the way to Chiwaukum Lake, there were lots of trail finding opportunities. Between overgrowth, down trees, deadfall, and burned forests, the going was slow and challenging. The following two photos are examples of me searching for the trail. The brown dashed line is the map overlay of the trail (frequently inaccurate), the blue line with the arrow is me wandering about. The continuous blue/green line is a creek.

This episode of searching was by far the longest and most frustrating. I should have realized I needed to be on the other side of the creek earlier, but sometimes when you’re in the moment and especially when you see other shoe prints, it’s easy to keep going. One thing I did to try to help should I get injured was send out InReach signals whenever I was off trail for more than a few minutes. 

This section left me exhausted, battered and bruised. 

Link to Part 4

WA – Alpine Lakes Wilderness – Chiwaukum Circumnavigation (Part 2 – Trails 1592/1570)

Link to Part 1

In the morning I said goodbye to Lake Grace and enjoyed stunning views as I walked high above the sea of green. 

Are you Mt Adams? 

Are you Mt Rainier? 

Frosty Pass proved to be nothing more than a trail junction. It was time to say goodbye to Trail #1592 and hello to Trail #1570 the Icicle Ridge Trail.

The Icicle Ridge Trail was my favorite section of this hike. Oh how I love ridge views!

And this wildflower gal was thrilled to be tromping through the fields of lupine. 


Lakes Margaret and Mary 

View from Icicle Ridge (about 7,000 feet)

Upper Florence Lake

Finally, on trail snow! I brought my microspikes just in case there was snow at any of the high passes, but alas they were just dead weight in my pack. 

Spanish Camp Creek


Ladies Pass 

The approach to Cape Horn (7,316′).

Heading down from the pass. Oh how I love switchbacks!

Lake Edna 

Lake Edna looking back up at Cape Horn pass. 

Good morning 

Home sweet home (not the best location for the gusty winds, but better than the other spot where a group was dealing with bothersome goats). 

Lake Edna and Cape Horn 

Oh the wildflowers!

Link to Part 3

WA – Alpine Lakes Wilderness – Chiwaukum Circumnavigation (Part 1 – Trails 1582/1592)

This lesser known area of the ALW (Alpine Lakes Wilderness) was not on my radar, in fact Washington wasn’t even part of my August itinerary, but when Mother Nature intervenes, sometimes you gotta just go with it. I’m grateful I have the flexibility to alter plans on the fly. Long story short my new friend Lester at Leavenworth Mountain Sports helped me plan this trip.

And so it began . . .

4pm, finally on trail

From trail 1582 to 1592 

I was extremely thankful to find this unexpected campsite about 5 miles into the hike. The topography thus far had not been tent friendly. Bonuses: (1) Pest-free zone (2) Nearby creek  (3) Starry sky view (4) Zero overnight condensation.

I’m used to seeing 10,000′ as the magic marker, but have learned 5,000 is the equivalent in the more northern regions, not that I ever make a fire.

Figured I’d at least have lunch and take a swim at Lake Grace while considering the scramble to Upper Grace Lake. 

Incredible views of distant peaks (I believe to the south) as I hiked toward Lake Grace. 

I believe that’s Mt Adams in the far distance. 

The approach to Lake Grace. 

Very distinctive peaks (to the west I believe). 

So many views of Lake Grace but this may be my favorite. 

I met two gals who climbed up from Lake Brigham and dropped down the snow patch (top center) to Upper Grace Lake before scrambling down these steep slopes. Impressive! 

Oh the turquoise waters. 

The early morning colors reflecting over the Lake Grace outlet. 

Oh the wildflowers!

Link to Part 2

Let’s Talk Poo

Openly conversing about number two is a completely acceptable and popular topic in the wilderness, second only to food, and at times as controversial as politics and religion.

Sharing is Caring:

  • Are you healthy?
  • Are you clean?
  • Are you practicing LNT (Leave No Trace)?

There are some pretty funny videos and books out about this topic, but for this post, I’ll limit it to what’s in my kit and my methods of staying clean and healthy while practicing LNT.

My Poo Kit: Poo Kit

  • Ditty Bag – Appropriately color coded, sh*t brown of course.
  • TrowelDeuce of Spades, nothing but the best for this gal, and even better because it was in my Christmas stocking.
  • Wipes – Dried (I just open package and let air dry); Wysi are sold as dry wipes.
  • Antibacterial Wipes  I prefer unscented but hard to find; I’m still experimenting with better options.
  • Garbage Bag – Black doggy poo bags from your local pet store are a great option.
  • Freezer Bags – I like the pint size, one for antibacterial wipes and another for dry wipes.


The bidet bottle is filled with water and a couple drops of Dr. Bronner’s soap. My kit has 2 dry wipes and 2 antibacterial wet wipes per day, with a few extras of each thrown in for multi-day trips.

My Method:

  • Dig a hole with my trusty Deuce of Spades trowel, preferably according to LNT specifications (6-8″ deep hole, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails).
  • Prepare for the big event (essentials out and ready).
  • Do my business.
  • Spray my hiney hole with the bidet bottle.
  • Wet a dry wipe with the bidet bottle solution and clean that hiney hole.
  • Place dirty wipe in doggy trash bag.
  • Use antibacterial wet wipe for final clean of privates, front then back. It may cause drying which I counteract with A&D Ointment.
  • Place dirty wipe in doggy trash bag.
  • Find a stick or rock and stir my business, mixing well with natural elements such as dirt. It should no longer be discernible, the natural composting process has been expedited, and it’s less likely animals will find buried treasure.
  • Fill the hole with natural elements. Do NOT cover with the magic rock. It will slow down the natural composting process. If you’re in a heavy use area, you can stand a stick up in the pile which to some signifies a poo burial site.
  • Toss the poo stick or rock away from the poo burial site, making it less likely an animal will find your business.
  • Cleanse hands with another antibacterial wipe (or sanitizing gel)
  • Place dirty wipe in doggy trash bag.
  • Collect my tools of the trade and stash back into that brown ditty bag.


Relax, eat, drink, hike and get ready for the next big event!


What’s in your kit? What’s your system?





DIY – Hiking Skirt and Tall Gaiters

I never thought I’d be one to wear a skirt hiking, heck I didn’t even wear them in my other life. But after developing a fabric sensitivity to my favorite pants, and subsequent rashes, I was motivated to make a change. Hemlock was my exemplar. She’d been wearing skirts and tall gaiters for several years while hiking in varied terrain and conditions. 

I trialed a skirt during my 90-day, 9,000 mile, 20 national park trip earlier this year. I could wear shorts or tights under it, shoes or sandals, and heck it was only $5. #$5skirtadventures

I even hiked in it occasionally. I was a convert! 

Although extremely comfortable, it really wasn’t trail worthy. So before I started the Arizona Trail, I upgraded to this Dollar General dress I converted to a skirt. 

It was certainly more durable than my $5 skirt, but still snagged on the stickery prickeries of the Arizona Desert. I liked the length and simple A-Line design of both skirts. It was time to find some fabric and make a real hiking skirt. Lucky for me, my friend Penny introduced me to Mill End Fabrics where I found the perfect fabric for $4 a yard. 

Step 1 – Determine length and bottom width of your skirt.  My dimensions were Width=58″ Length=25″.

Tip: Add 3-4″ to finished length for elastic casing and hem line. It’s easier to cut extra off then add it back.

Step 2 – Determine waist/hip width, then cut angle to form “A-Line” shape. I loosely measured around my hips, added a few inches and used that as the waist width. In my case that meant reducing the sides by 3″ each on this double thickness fabric (total of 12″ reduction). I then made an angled cut from the waist to the hem line. My new dimensions: Waist Width = 46″ Hem Width = 58″)

Step 3 – Stitch side seams, finishing edges as desired.  I used a flat-felled seam technique.

Consideration: Occasionally I find my stride slightly inhibited by the hem width. Side slits or a kick pleat would resolve and will probably be included in my next version.

Step 4 – Create casing for elastic, insert and determine fit. I used 1″ elastic, and created my casing by folding over 2.25″ fabric and stitching at both fold and hem edges. 

Step 5 – Determine length of skirt and hem accordingly. I used the rolled hem technique. 

Consideration: If you don’t already have a favorite length, I recommend making it longer initially as you can always shorten later. On my first hike, I thought it might be too long, but I got use to it by the third hike and I now like the length. It keeps my knees from getting burned and invites fewer bites, scrapes and scratches.

Step 6 – POCKETS? I elected to forego pockets after wearing my previous two skirts. I liked the freedom vs feeling my phone or other items banging against my legs.

When I wore pants, I rolled the legs up when I was hot and down when it was cold or buggy or I was bushwhacking. I decided to follow Hemlock’s example by making tall leggings for this purpose. 

Step 1 – Determine length.

Step 2 – Determine width at top and bottom. My dimensions: Top Width = 23″ Bottom Width = 15″

Tip: I used the factory edge for the bottom so I wouldn’t need to hem and would have a little extra stretch. Bottom width needs to include sufficient room to stretch over foot and ankle. I pinned and tested several times before sewing.  

Step 3 – Stitch the seam, finishing the edges as desired. I used a flat-felled seam technique.

Step 4 – Create a casing for elastic at top. I used rolled elastic and a toggle.

Yeah I look like a dork in my modified Brownie uniform, but it’s been fantastic. The fabric couldn’t be more perfect. It repels water, dries quickly, protects me from stickery prickeries, and has survived several encounters with tree sap. The skirt is comfortable and flows well while hiking. I’ve worn my tights under the tall gaiters when it’s been cold (protects my merino wool). They’ve worked to protect my legs from undergrowth scratches, drippy bushes, and pesky mosquitoes and black flies. When I don’t want to take time to remove them, I quickly readjust them to ankle height. I’ve sprayed both the skirt and gaiters with Sawyer Permethrin.

Ongoing challenges of bare leg syndrome: I’d still like to find a lightweight shorts option, especially for those times when I might slip (been there done that . . . makes for some nice scrapes on the backs of the legs), when the bugs are bad (they like that warm soft flesh), or when I have to shimmy across and over logs. I tried the Jockey Women’s Underwear Skimmies Wicking Slipshort as recommended by several female hikers. They worked for a few hours before beginning the dreaded upward crawl. Surprisingly my biggest concern, chub rub, didn’t become a reality when I ditched the malfunctioning Skimmies. Maybe the recently recommended Bandelettes Elastic Anti-Chafing Thigh Bands are the answer? More likely though on me they’d quickly become rubberbands, a Michelin Man or Pillsbury Doughboy necessity . . . I can’t stop chuckling . . . and as a lightweight hiker, it’s important to think of multiuses for your gear, so slingshot bands?


CA – Ash Creek Butte and Surprise Lake (07/16)

I’m proud to be a Cherry Picker (a hiker who prefers the best of the best) and an opportunist (just say YES). Pretty hard to say NO after I’d seen Steve’s photos and been invited by the man himself, the one who’d done the hard work of figuring out how to access and successfully summit this special place.

Ash Creek Butte is a rock glacier. According to the USFS page, “Ash Creek Butte Fossil Rock Glacier Geologic Area occupies a 300 acre site. The remains of an ancient rock glacier sits in a north–facing glacially carved bowl, or “cirque”. A rock glacier is a tongue–like or lobate body, usually of angular boulders, that resembles a small glacier, generally occurs in high mountainous terrain. Ash Creek Butte is an 8,378 foot peak situated on the boundary of Klamath and Shasta–Trinity National Forests.”

Step 1 – Find Ash Creek Butte and Surprise Lake on your map (near Mt Shasta), then study the USFS and logging roads, plus topo lines to figure out the best route.

Step 2- Using your topography map, compass and skills, start hiking.

If you are successful, you might find Surprise Lake with Ash Creek Butte not only looming large in the background but also reflected in the lake’s mirrored surface. The peak on the right is the high point of the butte (8,378) and our destination.

On this date in early July, there were still patches of snow. Steve remarked how much had melted since his visit a week earlier.

It’s worth taking a slight detour to climb to the ridge above the lake before skirting to the right and then heading up the ridge (glacial rim). We found paths mostly devoid of the lava type rock. As we neared the rim we found some cairns to guide us the rest of the way.

We were granted nice open views of the east side of Mt Shasta as we began our climb. 

You know you’re in the vicinity when you find the first geologic marker. 

White bark pine trees were a welcome sight. 

The skies were a bit hazy on this day due to the Pony Fire (near Happy Camp). After my recent discoveries of sandstone hoodoos, I’ve been intrigued to also find them in glacial areas. 

Looking down the tongue of the glacial flow and up at the rim, our path of choice.

There were a few patches of these flowers, Sacramento Waxy Dogbane. 

Also saw a few blooming and post-bloom Dr. Seuss flowers (aka Pasqueflower aka Anemone). 

Mt Shasta in the background, the glacial rim we’d hiked up in the foreground, with additional buttes to the right including The Whaleback (8,528′). Surprise Lake is on the right, toward the lower middle of the photo, just in front of the cloud shadow.

The summit survey marker looks like it was originally surveyed in 1931 with this marker placed in 1946 (but I could be misinterpreting). 

More hoodoos and a look down at Surprise Lake. 

Hoodooville, a village of many colors. 

The tongue of the glacial flow. 

How’s this for a chair with a view?

If you are into geocaching, there is one at the summit. 

My friend Steve celebrating his success. Special thanks again for the invite!

Rockhounds would love this place. 

A good reminder, there is NO trail. This is a hike that requires navigation and technical hiking skills. 

Goodbye Surprise Lake and Ash Creek Butte. 

Date(s) Hiked: July 3, 2016

Jan’s Tips:

  • It’s always a good idea to check road condition status. You can stop at the McCloud Ranger Station, 530-964-2184.
  • This was about a 6-mile round trip hike with 2,000′ elevation gain/loss.


General Info: