Aug 17, 2011 at 6:40 pm #1278207
Looking to take a few friends out into the Glacier Peak Wilderness over labor day. Our plan is to be at the Phelps Creek TH by Thursday night, car camp, and head out at dawn Friday morning.
We have 3 nights and 3.5 days to do this. All of us are very fit and can do 15-20 miles in a day. I've just put a map together of the area and highlighted all the trails.
My question is how many miles will this be?
Start at Trinity
Hike up to Spider Meadow through Spider Gap
Walk by Lyman lakes
Hit Cloudy Pass and Suiattle Pass
Join the PCT and connect to Miners Ridge Trail
Right after the mines take the trail up to Image Lake
Come back down from Image lake and either backtrack or bushwhack down to the PCT
Cross the bridge over the Suiattle River on the PCT
Take PCT to the trail going over Middle Ridge and between Flower Dome and Helmet Butte
Going to Buck Creek Pass follow the Buck Creek Trail back to Trinity
I think this is quite an undertaking and I'm estimating it to be around 50 miles. I haven't been able to find any trip report with all of these locations so I'm hoping one of you may have some experience in the area and could comment on this.
I'm sure thankful for any details shared. I know there will be plenty of others that will benefit from the information shared as well.
JaredAug 17, 2011 at 6:59 pm #1770564
@rosierabbitLocale: Pacific Northwest
Craig Romano has this route spelled out in great detail in his new book "Backpacking Washington." Read pages 195 – 206. Be prepared for hordes of people, at least by Saturday. It's a popular area and a popular weekend to do it. The earlier you can start the better.Aug 17, 2011 at 7:52 pm #1770577
@footeabLocale: Pacific Northwest
Erm, if you are Crossing the Suiattle river, something is wrong. From Image Lake just back track and take the PCT alternate route to Buck Creek Pass. This section of trail will be the "worst" section as its not used much. Though I think they brushed/logged it out due to the PCT running through it for the last several years when the bridge over the Suiattle river washed out.
Yes, Your route is about 50 miles and its all trail. As of last week there was still large amounts of snow over most of this trail. Had a friend go over to Bannock Lakes with 5 feet of snow beneath his feet. It should be snow free by labor Day. Image lake from the last picture I saw was still iced over completely and buried under snow. If you really do 20 miles/day you should be able to hit Image Lake on day 1 though probably not as that would be nearly 6000 vertical I think.
Glacier Peak from this position is Beautiful.
If you have the time, This is HIGHLY recommended, from Buck Creek Pass take the trail up over Liberty Cap to High Pass above lake trinity. This is another highlight of the trip. Starring at the tumbling glaciers off of Clark, Lahuna, etc. From high pass you can keep on traversing high and take the ridge down from between Mt. Berge and Mt. Cleater down back to Buck Creek. (Its the gentle one on the topo) Cross the creek and hit the trail on the other side. Bottom of forested ridge with very little to no brush at all as its heavily forested drops you into an open meadow that the Buck Creek trail runs through. Grass/Flower meadow. A bit extra vertical gain as high pass is at 7000 feet where Buck Creek pass is at ~6000, but the views. Holy COW! Also get to stare directly at N. Face of Buck as well on the way out.
This alternative does take a bit of off trail willingness from High pass. Easily doable in tennis shoes as it is generally Wide open mature forest.
PS. There may still be a snow wall at High Pass this year that the average backpacker will not want to tackle. Even if there is, the views from top of Liberty Cap are still more than worth the climb even if one cannot finish going towards High pass
PPS. Just saw a pic of Liberty Cap/High Pass region. I think the snow wall is gone. In fact nearly all snow is gone in that region.Aug 17, 2011 at 9:15 pm #1770594
Todd TBPL Member
@texasbbLocale: Pacific Northwest
I did that exact trip last year (see http://texasbb.net/files/Spider-Buck-2010/) and figured it to be 45 miles and about 9750 vertical feet. But that included side trips from Buck Creek Pass up (almost) to High Pass and to Flower Dome. My advice: DO NOT go all that way and skip the High Pass jaunt. If you're pressed for time, skip Image Lake, but don't skip High Pass. You don't have to go all the way to the pass–you can stop just before the snowfield–but the views of Glacier Peak, the flowered slopes, Triad Lake, Buck Creek drainage, and Mt Baker in the distance are worth making time for them.
BTW, I believe it's Miner's Creek you'll be crossing on a bridge, not the Suiattle River.Aug 17, 2011 at 9:21 pm #1770596
Todd TBPL Member
@texasbbLocale: Pacific Northwest
You won't be starting at Trinity, you'll be starting at Phelps Creek TH (finishing at Trinity). Phelps Creek TH is several miles and about 700 vertical feet above Trinity. I parked at Phelps Creek and hitched a ride back to my rig after coming out at Trinity.Aug 17, 2011 at 10:42 pm #1770611
@dirk9827Locale: Pacific Northwest
I've basically done the trip a few years ago – the trip you are doing is one of the best trips going – I'd bring some bug spray as this year the Mosquitoes are out LATE. I just got back from the Enchantments and the mosquitoes were pretty fierce at 5,500 feet.
DirkAug 18, 2011 at 4:06 pm #1770858
Mary DBPL Member
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
I did this spectacular trip way back in 1987 and have been longing to do it again! For details, check Doug Lorain's "Backpacking Washington" and numerous trip reports on http://www.nwhikers.net. I haven't seen any reports for the loop this year, though, so check reports for the individual destinations. No, you don't cross the Suiattle unless you want to go around the west side of Glacier Peak, a far longer trip!
The one part that is not trail is along the level "Spider Glacier" (really a snowfield, not a glacier) to Spider Gap, no big deal, and then the descent of the snowfield to upper Lyman Lake. If the snowfield is hard or icy you're in trouble unless you have an ice axe and know how to use it. If it's mushy, which it will be by mid-afternoon unless it's cold, you can easily get down plunge stepping or (if you're more adventurous than me) doing a standing glissade.
I'd time your entrance or exit on a weekend so you can get a ride between the two trailheads. I went with a group, so we had two cars.Aug 19, 2011 at 7:57 am #1771062
Everyone thanks so much for the insight you've shared!
As a few of you have mentioned now it is indeed miners creek we will be crossing.
Mt. Berge and Mt. Cleaton are not labelled on my map and from the suggestion earlier I think it would be well worth the time to just skip image lake and try this alternative instead. Image lake is really far out of the way and I myself prefer all the little side trips and mini peak bagging shenanigans.
I haven't ordered the maps from Green Trails yet because there is a minimum purchase of 6 maps, and at this time I have most of the maps that I need. How can I find Mt. Berge and Mt. Cleaton? Google hasn't done a very good job of pointing me to anything useful.
I'm really looking forward to this trip! I kinda muse about this most of the day now and am itching to get out there!
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