WA – Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Ingalls Pass (Sept/Oct 2021)

The forecasters got this one wrong. I like to camp near trailheads so I can get an early morning start. Well on this day instead of hiking I read. Living in your car has some drawbacks and on long rainy days there aren’t a lot of options. Yes I could have been like those I saw hiking anyways, some carrying backpacks. That’s the difference between those from the Pacific Northwest and this sunny Californian. I also could have driven back to town but I don’t like wasting gas and since hanging out inside was something I avoided during COVID times, that wasn’t a great option either.

As I drove to the trailhead the next morning, I was mostly excited to see this view of I believe Fortune Peak, although a little concerned about snow since I didn’t have my microspikes or weatherproof shoes with me. Afterall I packed for this trip when it was over 100 degrees. I met a few of the backpackers coming down after a wet cold night. They were regretting not waiting a day for better weather and views.

It was a great hike to the pass. I had views of Mount Rainier and cloudy views of either Mount Adams or Mount Saint Helens. The Esmeralda Peaks are in the foreground.

Finding larch turning yellow at the pass and seeing Mount Stuart with it’s first dusting made Ingalls Pass a worthy hike.

This is looking down into Ingalls Creek drainage which I’d hiked from the other end a couple weeks previous, though not quite making it this far (blog link).

At the top I found a marmot enjoying the warm sun.

The colors remind me of California’s Klamath Mountains. Ingalls Pass is to the right in front of the colorful mountains which I believe includes Fortune Peak on the left.

In one of the rock fields, I took time to watch the pika scurry about. This one blended well with the rocks.

With the yellowing larch signaling a change in season I headed further north hoping to find them in peak color. I returned to Ingalls Pass a couple of weeks later to see how autumn was progressing. I’d say I found gold!

I was still full of energy and feeling strong when I arrived at the pass so decided to continue on toward Ingalls Lake. Headlight Basin is beautiful. You can see why it’s a popular backpacking and hiking destination. This is looking back up at Ingalls Pass.

This is the route to Ingalls Lake. There isn’t a trail; it’s more of a multiple-option cairn route, sort of what I call pick your poison. I started up two different routes and realized they were too risky for where I was in my knee rehab. If you zoom you can see people scrambling among the rocks. If I were to see this photo, I’d think it would be easy to stick to the boulders making it a somewhat easy climb but in reality there is lots of class 2 scrambling.

Instead I enjoyed lunch with views like these into the Ingalls Creek Drainage. As a bonus I had time to people watch. Some were suffering greatly carrying overnight packs, even though the lake is off limits for camping. I met a ranger on my way down who was on her way up to check permits and relocate those camped in closed areas.

I made the mistake of taking the alternate trail on my way down. The main trail is a much nicer grade and provides even better views. The shorter alternate trail drops down steeply and then regains some elevation to meet up with the main trail. In retrospect I wish I would have done an out and back on the main trail.

Dr Seuss trees.

Very few trees were as mature as this one. I wonder if a fire wiped out old growth at some time in the fairly recent past.

I was still a tad early for peak color but it was still a WOW experience and not one I regretted.

ADVENTURE DATE(S): September 19-20 and October 1, 2021

RESOURCES:

LINKS:

WA – Mount Rainier National Park, Sunrise (Sourdough Ridge/Dege Peak) (July 2021)

Joan and I were giddy with joy from our last two days spent in Rainier alpine zone and couldn’t resist pushing our luck. As we joked, this will be another rest day for Jan. It was my 7th day in a row of hiking and I sure didn’t want to risk a setback, but . . . it’s impossible to say no to such opportunities. We were in the right place at the right time! So back to Sunrise we went. This time we took the Sourdough Ridge Trail to the east, rather than west as previous day (link).

Early morning light on the Sourdough Trail. The mound in the background is First Burrough we’d hiked the previous day.

This meadow kept us smiling. This is probably the largest display of Dr. Seuss mop heads I’ve ever seen (pasqueflowers).

Even the birds found these plumes worthy of a stop over. A birder informed me this is a Pine Siskin.

The asters brightened the meadows. Sunrise lodge is in the valley. This photo was taken at 7:30am. Within an hour the parking lot and road will be packed.

My view from Dege Peak.

This was my turnaround spot while Joan continued on to eventually drop 1,000 feet to the Lakes Trail which included Sunrise and Palisades Lakes. We couldn’t decide if the haze was smoke or clouds, but it burned off later in the day so clouds seemed to win.

The view into the lakes basin from Dege Peak.

These yellow blooms seemed to fit the Dr. Seuss theme.

I finally found a butterfly willing to sit for a portrait.

I couldn’t help but wonder if we were in for a weather change.

I love how the Sourdough Ridge trail showcases varied geology as well as provides amazing views of the mountain.

The marmots loved the lupine. This guy was taking large bites. YUM!

I found more Sky Pilots (Jacob’s Ladder).

When I was done lollygagging on Sourdough Ridge and the Nature Trail high route, I visited the Emmons Glacier vista to learn more about this largest-in-the-nation glacier.

Yes indeed it was another zero. Ha another non-rest rest day. Ok friends might consider it a zero or nero but it was plenty of work for me.

I added a solar shower to my car camping kit. We’d fill it in the morning and let it heat on my dashboard and then shower in camp. This was the only time we had neighbors and had to erect a bit of a privacy curtain, otherwise we found sheltered areas near our campsite. We survived 11 days without a real shower! Being able to rinse off the sweat and dust before bed made sleeping much better, although this night I had a pesky mouse in my house who just didn’t want to leave or die.

DATE(S) HIKED: July 27, 2021

RESOURCES:

Other Jaunts in Washington (link) including the Wonderland Trail (link)

WA – Mount Rainier National Park, Paradise (July 2021)

After a couple days at Stevens Canyon (link) it was impossible to ignore the pull of the mountain. So on a Sunday, yes a Sunday, during peak summer tourist season, two crowd-adverse gals decided to test the waters. Joan and I left our campsite at 5:30am for optimal crowd-avoidance strategy. It worked! We got our pick of a parking spot in the main area at Paradise.

After a stop at Reflection Lake, we decided “sub alpine” filled with hordes of skeeters was less appealing than hordes of people at alpine. I was reminded of my hike around Mt Rainier on the Wonderland Trail in 2014 (link).

Reflection Lake

Skyline Trail

We couldn’t ignore a calling to the Skyline Trail. With much trepidation about my knee and body performance, we began our hike. The views kept me smiling. It was my kind of WOW per mile. So many views and wildflowers. I felt like I could touch the mountain. How lucky to have beautiful blue skies devoid of smoke and fires. Temperatures were warm but with plenty of water and snow we stayed comfortable. At the end of the day, I was thrilled with my recovery and performance. The long steep downhill tested my body but my hips complained more than my knee so I figured this meant I’d moved on from knee rehab to rebuilding general fitness.

The first section of the Skyline Trail is paved which really helps with dust and erosion given it’s high use. Notice the marmot laying on the big rock in foreground.

The marmots are such portrait hams.

This was a flower power tour.

The lupine smelled strongly of grape jelly.

We had a few snow patches to hike through and were wishing we’d carried our microspikes.

This is the Nisqually Glacier. Notice the waterfall.  There are 25 major glaciers on Mount Rainier and numerous unnamed snow or ice patches, which cover about 35 square miles.

Nothing like Glacier Lilies to accompany the Nisqually Glacier.

Trail reality . . . we definitely weren’t alone. Funny this viewpoint is of the Goat Rock wilderness where Joan had hiked the PCT the previous week (link), and where I’ve hiked two times previously.

I was thrilled to find Sky Pilots (Jacob’s Ladder).

Water water everywhere, fields of green and loads of floral color.

This was my third day in a row to hike. I was beyond excited about my performance and recovery.

DATE(S) HIKED: July 25, 2021

RESOURCES:

Other Jaunts in Washington (link) including the Wonderland Trail (link)

CA – Eastern Sierra, South Lake Bishop Pass Trail . . . a day of giddiness

After hiking from the Big Pine Creek Trailhead both North Fork and South Fork, I returned to Bishop before chasing another lead for peak fall colors. As I drove toward South Lake, I was excited to finally see the colors I’d been seeking for the past week.

I began to wonder if I’d ever make it to the trailhead. I was beyond happy with the visual eye candy.

The tapestry of colors along the mountains was especially eye catching.

But alas, I finally arrived!

South Lake

On this day I decided to follow the trail to Bishop Pass.

Long Lake was a beauty.

This is Chocolate Peak. My plan was to hike the loop to Chocolate Lakes on my return trip.

As the trail continues, I continue to smile while trying to guess the location of Bishop Pass.

There were a few patches of this red vegetation which really popped among the gray granite boulders.

Hello my friend, is it nearing hibernation time?

Nice view back at Saddlerock and Bishop Lakes with Hurd Peak rising to the left.

Time for some climbing.

This is a good view looking down at the switchbacks with a hiker descending.

An example of some serious trail building involved in creating all these switchbacks.

Looking back at the upper tarns and lakes reminding me of how many places there are to explore in this giant playground.

Nearing the final push.

The Bishop Pass sign is in the distance.

The views were incredible. This was the trail descending into Dusy Basin, another one marked on my list for a future visit.

Once again my Peak Finder app was so helpful in identifying the various mountains.

After spending some time gawking at maps and views, it was time to descend enjoying incredible views along the way. You can even see Chocolate Mountain peeking out in the far distance.

View of Ruwau Lake from Bishop Pass Trail.

Ruwau Lake from the Chocolate Lakes Loop trail. I met this hiker coming from the opposite direction who gave me a bit of intel on this secondary most unmaintained trail.

When you don’t do your research, you might find yourself climbing. I was beginning to get a bit nervous about running out of time. It was already after 4pm when I reached this viewpoint above Ruwau Lake.

Ut oh, I really wasn’t anticipating rocky route finding. The looming question, is it time to turn back?

Around 5pm, I found the first of the Chocolate Lakes.

The backside of Chocolate Peak with Chocolate Lake in the foreground.

Whew made it back on the main trail by 6pm. This day became my favorite of this fall jaunt second only to Virginia Lakes.

Adventure Date(s):

  • October 9, 2019

Hike Details:Tips:

  • Bishop is a great place to catch up on chores, eat some good grub, etc. If you need a shower I recommend The Hostel California rather than the one at the laundromat as it was dirty and disgusting. Check online reviews of laundromats. If I remember correctly there are three in town.  You can use your Safeway ID for shopping at Vons; get your gas discount. Looney Bean was my favorite for coffee, eats and WiFi.
  • You can pick up a fall colors map and guide at many visitor centers and ranger stations along Highway 395. There are also several online sites offering current conditions; this is one I used and recommend (link).

Resources:

Links:

WA – North Cascades National Park, Sahale Glacier

OPEN OPEN OPEN. When I arrived at the Marblemount Wilderness Information Office at 6:30am I found about 10 others in line ahead of me awaiting the 7am opening. We were all hoping to secure a walk-up permit for North Cascades National Park where this is the game you must play for backcountry camping if you don’t want to reserve six months in advance.

Finally the doors opened. First up was a group of guys who’d been waiting since 5am. Soon enough two groups in front of me secured the spots I wanted. However, one benefit of living this flexible lifestyle was that I was able to delay my start by a day and thus was still rewarded with a permit to Sahale Glacier Camp. I spent the day taking care of chores and of course eating, including dealing with a fraud alert on my primary credit card. The fun of traveling was figuring out where and when to receive a replacement. This ended up being my best option, 40 miles away from Marblemount.

Finally it was time. When the trail looks like this, you know it’s gonna be a slow slog.

I got an early start and was welcomed by this friend.

These were so tiny and delicate. I’m guessing a type of penstemon.

Monkey Flowers

Looking back down from where I’d come.

I have a love/hate relationship with backcountry toilets like this one at Cascade Pass, especially when they involve more ascending. With the amount of traffic this trail sees I’m grateful to not see white butterflies and piles of human excrement.

Cascade Pass survey/benchmark post.

I was excited about this next section as I’d heard as it attracts much wildlife.

As if on cue, just 10 minutes later we spy this black fuzzy guy on the hillside. Of course, he’s decided to hang out between the switchbacks.

I think he was intoxicated from the flowers and berries he was happily consuming and had no interest in leaving his paradise.

We grouped up, encouraged him to leave but after a long wait we walked by on the high trail without incident.

I continued hiking but several others hung back wanting to savor this close encounter with nature. When I looked back I was surprised to see these guys with their backs to the bear. I think they were so wrapped up in the moment they didn’t realize what they’d done. We met one of these hikers later and found out the situation turned violent when the bear spied a marmot, pursued, killed and devoured his prey. Now that was a wild kingdom experience!

Back to nature’s beauty as the climbing toward Sahale Glacier continued.

Doubtful Lake, which I planned to visit as part of my exit hike the following day, plus a glimpse of Sahale Glacier, my destination for the night.

I didn’t take as many photos as I should have on the hike up to Sahale. After this section, the trail worked it’s way through scree and boulders at a much steeper grade.

Photography breathing breaks are essential.

The marmots weren’t very photo friendly on this trip.

There are only a couple places where you can see Mt Baker.

And finally, I arrived at Sahale Glacier Camp. From the trailhead, it took me a little less than 6 hours to hike these 6 miles with 4000′ of ascending.

Mike was planning on ascending the Glacier. I was his accountability buddy and enjoyed watching his progress.

The glacier is much larger than it appears. Mike is nothing but a tiny speck the lip of the snowfield and false summit.

I watched another person hike up with skis and make a couple runs.

This is from PeakFinder app.

Pooper with a view, no privacy and a trek requiring planning; wouldn’t want to wait until the last minute as it’s a bit of a rocky jaunt.

This photo shows the location of some of the premier campsites. Each of the three gray snow-free mounds just below the glacier hold single campsites.

I chose a campsite nearer the glacier and snowmelt. All the sites have nice rock walls as wind barriers.

With no shade around I was thankful for my umbrella. The sun was intense.

Water water everywhere but thankfully there was a breeze and bugs were pretty much non existent.

I spent way too many hours in camp. I regretted not bringing my microspikes so I could walk the glacier.

Sunset was incredible as the weather was a changing and the valley canyons filled with rolling fog.

First light from my tent.

Early morning visitors, only a pair and not even a little pesky.

First light on Johannesburg Mountain. Little did I know this would be the only sun I’d see all day. This was at 6am. My tent is in the middle and on each of the peaks to the left and right are occupied campsites.

PeakFinder app is so helpful.

I checked weather on my InReach to see if rain was headed my way. I wanted to know if the fog/clouds would burn off or if I best get off this exposed location. I’ve found the forecasts somewhat unreliable but with heavy rain predicted by 1pm, I decided I best heed the warning.

It was looking doubtful that I would visit Doubtful Lake on this gray chilly day.

This is the sketchy part of the trail with mixed slippery dirt, scree and boulders. Not my favorite type of terrain. If you look carefully toward the top of the photo you’ll see a couple just beginning their descent.

I didn’t want to drop into the cloud.

Looking back from where I’d come. You might be able to spy the couple descending behind me as colorful tiny dots.

Run marmot run, don’t let that bear get you.

Sahale Mountain to the left, with Doubtful Lake in the lower middle.

Oh Doubtful Lake how I wanted to visit you but you’ll have to wait for a nicer day.

Down down down I go, descending into the swirling clouds.

Finally I was back into the forested switchbacks where I was hoping for some ripe berries.

It seems I finally found worked my way out of prime wildflower season. There were still some around but not in the quantities I’d experienced a few weeks earlier.

Adventure Date(s):

  • August 8-9, 2019

Hike Details:

Tips:

  • Permits are required and can only be obtained either in advance from the recreation.gov site or from a wilderness office for same day or next day camping. Rangers are out and about checking permits. Mine was checked twice. If you are planning on being an early arrival, check at the door for a number system. The first day the numbers weren’t out. The second day it was raining and we were waiting in our cars. About 15 minutes before opening they put out a box with numbers. It was much more efficient but they should put them out much earlier.
  • This was a great option for WiFi, as was The Eatery.
  • Lots of options can be found in Sedro Wooley; Lorenzo’s was recommended by a friend.

Resources:

Links:

WY – Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park (Part 3 of 4)

I can now say I survived THE DEATH ZONE!

My primary goal of the day was to explore Alaska Basin

The cloudy skies made for perfect hiking temperatures but less than ideal views and photos. 

The Monkey Flowers were at peak and were prolific near water sources.

There were a few shady enclaves hiding Gentian flowers.

There are several lakes in the basin. I was quite disappointed by the quality of lakes in the Tetons. They are much more like ponds, not a place you want to swim nor gather drinking water. 

There is a side trail that takes you to the pass next to Buck Mountain, a detour on my agenda. 

Look closely at the mark under the clouds. That’s a helicopter! I met a man running down the trail. He said he’d had to run to the pass from the basin to call 911 on his cell. Jackson Hole is between the gap. His friend had developed severe stomach pains overnight and needed urgent extraction. Relying on cell signal in the mountains is risky; I’m thankful for my InReach (two-way satellite communicator).

What’s on the other side of Buck Mountain Pass

Looking down into Alaska Basin

Views from Buck Mountain Pass

The trail continues around the other side of the Alaska Basin

Looking back up toward Buck Mountain Pass

Do you see me? This marmot made me chuckle. He was absorbing the warmth of the rock, hiding from the breeze and hoping I didn’t see him. 

I’d originally planned to camp at Sunset Lake, but because I was outside GTNP I had the flexibility to camp elsewhere. When I found this spot on the Alaska Basin Shelf, with nearby water, I knew this would be a better home for me. I had a view of where I’d spent the day and felt as though I had the entire place to myself. 

With smoke in the air, I had a nice sunset view. Wonder if the view was better at Sunset Lake

To be continued . . .

Hike Details:

  • Date(s) Hiked: 8/31/17
  • Mileage: 8-10 miles (didn’t track)
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: minimal except for the climb up to Buck Mountain Pass
  • Trail Conditions:
    • Tree obstacles: minimal if any
    • Overgrowth: minimal if any
    • Signage: good
    • Terrain: excellent
  • Water: plentiful
  • Camping: plentiful and unrestricted by GTNP permits
  • Solitude: moderate, so a few groups on the trail but no one near my campsite
  • Bugs: grasshoppers and bees
  • Precip: clouds that didn’t result in thunderstorms on this day
  • Temp: 41 overnight low
  • Jan’s Cherry Picker Delight Scale: 5 cherries (out of 5)

Tips:

Links:

Resources:

WY – Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park (Part 2 of 4)

I started my second day by stepping onto the Teton Crest Trail.

I spent much of my day reveling in flowers. 

Marion Lake

Autumn is on it’s way. 

As I approached Death Canyon, I got some great teaser views of the big Teton mountains. 

Heading up to the Death Shelf. 

I heard several rock falls and actually witnessed two. 

Death Shelf was much more vibrant and moist than I anticipated. 

I haven’t seen dark brown marmots that I can recall. This one wanted to star in all my photos. 

I camped on the shelf with a great view of my future. 

The next morning I could only wonder what the weather would bring. 

Looking back toward Death Canyon and Death ShelfLink to possible explanations of the name.

Worst case of Leave No Trace (LNT) I’ve seen.  Wonder how long these skis have been here? Wonder how the person exited? Did this person receive a helicopter ride?

To be continued . . .

Hike Details:

  • Date(s) Hiked: 8/30/17
  • Mileage: 8-10 miles (didn’t track as conserving battery)
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: unknown as didn’t track however it was mostly a steady climb
  • Trail Conditions:
    • Tree obstacles: minimal if any
    • Overgrowth: only wildflowers
    • Signage: good
    • Terrain: good
  • Water: plentiful
  • Camping: restricted by permit
  • Solitude: moderate (saw a few groups around Marion Lake and one on Death Shelf)
  • Bugs: grasshoppers and bees
  • Precip: Sprinkled most of afternoon and early evening
  • Temp: 47 overnight low
  • Jan’s Cherry Picker Delight Scale: 5 cherries (out of 5) (loved the section between Marion Lake and Death Canyon, lots of WOW views)

Tips:

Links:

Resources: