Sunday, August 16, 2015

Our Annual Backpacking Trip

First off, sorry that it has been a while since I have posted something.  In the future I will try to be a little more consistent.  Regardless, I usually just write about significant events on my blog so you can go to my Facebook page if you want to follow my every day adventures. https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009375336949

Anyhow, every year my family does a backpacking trip in the summer that is about 8-10 days.  This year we decided to circumnavigate Glacier Peak in Washington.  Our plan was to take about 10 days to cover the 90 miles around the mountain.
A map around Glacier Peak
The first day we drove up to Washington which made for a late start.  We hiked in about 6 miles and camped by a creek shortly before we would reach the PCT.  We spend the day well below tree line so we mostly enjoyed view of the moss covered forest.

The next day we soon began the long climb up to Image Lake where we would spend our second night.  As we neared the top of the climb, we reached tree line and the trail became lined with heather and huckleberry bushes.  We soon crested the hill and hiked to the end of Miner's Ridge to see an old lookout before donning our pack once more and hiking the last little bit to Image Lake.
Climbing up to Image Lake

Image Lake

The Suiattle River down in the bottom

Day 3 took us across a long open meadow before dropping down to Miner's Creek.  Then we headed up the other side of the valley and climbed up to Buck Creek Pass where we spent the night.  We had a little time at the end of the day so we climbed up to Liberty Cap which we would hike past the next day.

Jacob with Glacier Peak in the background

Looking down the Buck Creek drainage

Looking out from Liberty Cap

Day 4 took us up past Liberty Cap and over High Pass before we descended down to the Napeequa River.  Early in the day we saw a bear a quarter mile below the trail which would prove to the only one we saw throughout the trip despite the plentiful huckleberries.  There was an off trail section from shortly after Liberty Cap all the way down to the Napeequa River but the entire section had a user trail which was very helpful.  There was a small talus field getting up to the pass and the trail got steep in spots descending to the river, but in all honesty the trail along the river was in just as bad shape as the user trail.

Climbing up toward High Pass.  The bear we saw was down in the bottom of this valley.

Apparently this lake is not named on our map, but it was a big deep lake.

Looking down toward the Napeequa River valley from High Pass.

Down along the Napeequa

Day 5 we had to cross the Napeequa River.  The night before we scouted out a way to cross which was a little difficult as the trail to the river was hard to follow and the river was big.  The morning crossing was cold but only ended up coming up to just above our knees.  From there we began the long steady climb up to Boulder Pass.  After Boulder Pass we dropped down to the White River which we followed a couple miles before we camped.  The trail along the White River was not maintained for several years so it was really overgrown with a lot of down trees.

Smoke over the Napeequa River

Unbelievable huckleberries

Descending from Boulder Pass

The White River Trail

Mom and Jacob having fun!

A big cottonwood tree

Day 6 we continued up the White River.  Unfortunately we had about a 10 minute rainstorm with some hail which got all of the brush wet.  We put on rain pants and jackets and kept on moving.  Eventually the brush started to dry and we took our jackets and rain pants off.  Unfortunately Dad and I had only brought rain pants so we kept wearing them as the day heated up as we would be crashing through brush for a long time.  Rain pants are not good in the heat, they do not breath at all.  Anyhow, we made progress and eventually found some orange flagging to follow.  We crossed the White River, climbed up the other side on a better, but still poorly maintained trail, and then followed the PCT to White Pass.

The trail

We thought we should be going this way...

...But really the trail was up here.

Some big trees.

On the PCT to White Pass

Day 7 we climbed up White Mountain in the morning and then continued on the PCT to Mica Lake.  We walked for 17 miles on the PCT that day which was our first long day, at least milage wise.  The previous day we walked for 12 hours or so but only went about 12 miles because the bushwhacking was pretty bad.  Anyhow, the day went by with lots of good views.  Early in the day we saw some close smoke from a fire and bunch of grouse.

Looking off White Mountain

White Mountian

Huge devil's club, a great plant no doubt but I prefer the stinging nettles.

Descending toward Mica Lake which is not in the picture

Day 8 we left Mica Lake intending to hike to the Suiattle River and camp near the trail up to Gamma Ridge.  We descended 5 miles rather quickly then climbed back up for 4-5 miles as the day cooled off and the clouds rolled in.  With a heavy mist around us, it felt like the Pacific Northwest that I know as home.  I will be heading off to school in Flagstaff, Arizona in about a week so the big trees and open meadows looming out of the Northwest fog was pretty special and got my brother and I talking of all our favorite memories in rainy, foggy weather.  We continued on, starting to descend down toward the Suiattle River as the wind starting to pick up and the clouds slowly began to rain.  We descended down through big trees, the rain becoming steady.  As we reached the campsite we saw on the map there wasn't much of a site so we continued on until we crossed the Suiattle.  At this point it was about 6 in the afternoon and we knew that we only had 6.4 miles to the car so we decided to just hike out and get a to a dry hotel room.  We hiked out in the steady rain and then drove into Arlington where Mom was able to call some hotels and reserve a room.  The next day, we jumped in the car, stopped in Seattle to visit the Seven Hills Running Shop and Pike's Place Market before heading home.
Mica Lake in the morning

A warm morning which would give way to clouds

In the cloud

The rain begins

A 600+ year old tree, the same tree in the picture above

Dad next to a really big tree.  There was a small stand here where all the trees were massive.

Jacob at the end.


  1. That lake just before High Pass that is unnamed on your maps is Triad Lake.