Following the map north after my jaunt through Goat Rocks (link), I stopped at Mt Rainier hoping for a walk-up permit to spend some more time near or around the Wonderland Trail, which I hiked in 2014 (link). Well luck was not with me on this day. The ranger talked me into a Plan B but when I saw the sign warning against car vandalism, I thought better. Next in line was Glacier Peak Wilderness. I hiked through this area on the PCT in 2016 (link) but sadly Mother Nature kept me from seeing much of the mountain. So maybe just maybe this would be my opportunity.
A friend recommended I park at the Trinity Trailhead and hike the 3-3.5 miles to the Phelps Creek Trailhead. Thankfully I was offered a ride for the last couple miles.
Flowers kept me entertained as I began my climb.
Soon enough I was in Spider Meadow surrounded by granite walls and wildflower-filled meadows.
Oh the sound of waterfalls racing off the granite walls.
My destination for my first night was just below Spider Gap.
Can you imagine the glacier that raced through here carving these great walls?
Fireweed left as evidence of a past fire.
Thistle and Indian Paintbrush.
Looking back at Spider Meadow and first larch trees. I’m sure this would be just as beautiful in the fall.
First view of Spider Glacier, my challenge for the next day. Look at the bottom and you’ll see the tiny person.
Can you find my tent?
I found these tiny flowers near my campsite.
The view of Spider Glacier from my tent. Would I have sweet dreams or nightmares about the next day’s climb?
I found a comfy slab of granite to snuggle in my sleeping bag and watch sunrise. According to Wikipedia, “Spider Glacier is .50 mi (0.80 km) long but very narrow at only 50 ft (15 m) in width.”
Before ascending, I stopped to check out the crack from which water was flowing.
I watched many hikers ascend the glacier the previous day, most without any traction devices. I knew I’d conserve more energy by wearing the microspikes I’d brought along. I can say, I had no regrets about lugging that extra weight as I climbed in the early morning hours on frozen sun cups.
Waterfalls decorated the walls.
And then I was nearly at the false summit. I’d been alerted the previous night by a group who’d climbed to gap and glissaded back down to camp.
The final push after the false summit.
I was proud of myself of making it up the climb.
Now to get down the other side, to Lyman Lakes. You can see the path on the right bank. I was told, just say NO! It’s really an animal track and ends on an abrupt cliff. Once again I was happy to have my microspikes. I just descended through the snowfield. What a beautiful basin.
The next important navigation tip was to stay to the right as you exit the snowfields, otherwise you’ll find yourself cliffed out.
Looking back up at the snowfield I’d descended.
I found some new flowers in the basin. These may be the dying phase of elephant heads?
Elephant Head Orchid.
Three mop heads standing in a row, E I E I E I O.
Upper Lyman Lake
Lower Lyman Lake. In retrospect I should have ended my day early and camped near the outlet of Lower Lyman.
These are shallow lakes with significant glacial flour.
Beautiful new bridge at Lower Lyman. I for one was grateful I didn’t have to ford the raging creek.
I stopped at the outlet for a dip, but since it was only 12:30pm, I wasn’t ready to call it a day.
So instead of relaxing and enjoying sunset on these beautiful lakes, I continued onward to Cloudy Pass.
Looking back at Lyman Lakes and Spider Gap.
First view of Glacier Peak.
Working my way through the boulder field. This was part of the PCT fire closure in 2018.
WooHoo, I found the PCT! Since this post is getting long, I’ll continue the loop in anther post (link to Part 2).
- July 27-31, 2019
- Register at the trailhead so the trails continue to get funds allocated for maintenance, etc.
- Be prepared for biting flies and mosquitoes. I’d sprayed my outerwear, pack and screen on tent in advance with Sawyer’s Permethrin (Amazon link), and applied Picardin (Amazon link) to my skin when needed.
- Leavenworth is a decent resupply and WiFi location. Can you tell I was craving vegetables?
- There is dispersed camping opportunities available near Leavenworth in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
- I found a $3 shower at a local fitness center.
- When there isn’t a nearby laundromat or you don’t have enough to justify a load, shower laundry is great and the dashboard works as a drying rack.
- Set mouse traps in your car at the trailhead! Mouse 1, Jan 1.
- Squirrel Tree Restaurants at Coles Corner was a worthy stop that filled my belly and made me happy.