Forum Index > Trip Reports > Summit Chief area tarns; August 30-Sept 3, 2019
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D. Inscho
Not bored yet...



Joined: 28 Feb 2010
Posts: 895 | TRs
Location: Bellingham,WA
D. Inscho
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Not bored yet...
PostThu Nov 14, 2019 6:00 am 
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The transition was abrupt but welcome.  After more than an hour of intense physical and mental concentration I stumbled out of the brush, fire-induced blow-down, and uncertainty onto the wide and well-tramped Pacific Crest trail. Additionally, after 6 hours of seeing no one, I was wading against a figurative tide of through-hikers.
Chimney and Overcoat
Chimney and Overcoat
Summit Chief lake
Summit Chief lake
Chimney peak glacier
Chimney peak glacier

This trip was inspired by the documented efforts of Contour5. I decided on a dry carry while tapping into side streams for quick untreated sips as is my custom. A variation to Escondido Lake allowed me to filter a bit of water for the final ridge line thrash.
Escondido lake
Escondido lake

The Cooper River trail to Pete Lake is pleasant enough, but with undulations that add 160 feet of gain on the way in. From the Pete junction the Waptus trail section dryly rears up for the real gain of the trip.
Mt Stuart
Mt Stuart
Tahoma peeping
Tahoma peeping

While eating and hydrating at Escondido some stinging ants attacked after sitting on a log. The stings triggered an obligatory slapping panic eek.gif  The burning pain intensely lingered not unlike a wasp’s venom. Stinging ants, in WA? After some research back home I learned WA has the European Fire ant (from WSU):

The European fire ant (Myrmica rubra), sometimes known as the red ant or ruby ant, is a native of Europe and Asia. It has been present in the northeastern United States and neighboring Canadian provinces for many years, and has also been found recently in Washington State and British Columbia. While its occurrence in the Pacific Northwest is relatively isolated for now, it has great potential to spread and become a significant pest in our area. This species does not build obvious mounds or hills. They like high humidity so will often build in soil at the base of trees or shrubs, under rocks or logs, or in similar sheltered or shady areas. EFA is considered a potentially significant pest species due to the highly aggressive nature of the workers, the high population density in infested areas, and its fondness for nesting in areas also enjoyed by humans. EFA workers can deliver a painful sting which may cause sore allergic reaction including anaphylactic shock in sensitive individuals.

I like learning new stuff, sort of  huh.gif

From Escondido I explored light forest SE to gain a workable line to ridge top.  I found a cohesive track that connected me to ridge line at 4800’. A boot path was variably evident along the ridge line with occasional venerable blazes. As it ascended into an old burn the track was a bit more difficult to discern due to downed trees and new growth. Suddenly, I found myself on a wilderness highway. A left turn and short trek on the PCT brought me to an obvious track diverting toward Summit Chief.
A long time ago
A long time ago
My "trail"
My "trail"
View back to Cooper Lake
View back to Cooper Lake
Love the forgotten trails
Love the forgotten trails

The lowest Vista tarn seemed an oasis to through-hikers after their climb from Spectacle; they hydrated, soaked their feet, and rinsed away some of the many miles they had travelled. I continued upward to the next tarn where it was good and lonesome. Camp was set amid views toward The Stone Kingdom of Chimney, Overcoat, and Lemah. I had 3 full days to explore this fine parcel of Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
Fireweed
Fireweed
Upper Vista lake
Upper Vista lake
For thirsty hikers
For thirsty hikers
Boney landscape
Boney landscape

As the Cascade Crest did its work of holding back Puget Sound vapors, I pondered evidence of ancient ice and appreciated the stale remnants clinging to nearby summits.  I explored the darling but restricted tarns (headwaters of Cooper River) north on the PCT, and beheld the cerulean waters of upper Summit Chief Lake. One of Bodhran’s favorite activities is water play, and it cheered my little heart to see him splash about after so much stoic devotion to my hot and relentless rambles.
Summit Chief lake
Summit Chief lake
"Camp elswhere"
"Camp elswhere"
Pacific crest vapors
Pacific crest vapors
Water play
Water play

At night I had nothing more to do than to listen to the staccato vespers of the picas and lie on a thin pad under a galactic star blaze, musing in wonder if I should be wearing sunblock to limit my exposure to so much ancient light wink.gif
Camp
Camp
Young moon
Young moon
Glacial grooves
Glacial grooves

One of the curiousities during this trip was an ongoing SAR effort around Three Queens that started the day after arrival. It was obvious by the helicopter patterns that the search location was imprecise. It covered lots of vertical and lateral ground, even employing a search beam into Saturday evening. They seemed to insert a ground team near Spectacle Lake before leaving. The air search resumed Sunday. Eventually it settled on a spot below a steep wall on the mountain. It hovered for 20 minutes and then left again. It returned later after perhaps refueling for what seemed to be an unhurried recovery. Sobering stuff to ponder frown.gif
Inserting Search and Rescue team
Inserting Search and Rescue team
Recovery operation
Recovery operation

The last night is one of my favorite parts of any long trip. The questions that have been answered only lead, like a faint track through meadows, to more that need to be probed. It is a time when I no longer fret food and fuel rations, and the last portion of wine is swallowed with reverence. The body is rested and strengthened. My compass points home no matter which direction is faced. But before the wanderer crosses the border between that which is timeless and that which runs by the clock, a great measure of serenity and beauty is carefully packed and smuggled through customs, back home where it continues to inspire.
My favorite kind of blues
My favorite kind of blues
12 and still backpacking!
12 and still backpacking!

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http://david-inscho.smugmug.com/

The key to a successful trip is to do the planning during work hours.       --  John Muir
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HermitThrush
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Joined: 14 Jan 2016
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Location: Maple Grove, MN
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PostThu Nov 14, 2019 6:24 am 
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Always love your reports, the photography and writing both. Thanks for sharing.
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Backpacker Joe
NWH Joe-Bob



Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 23308 | TRs
Location: Cle Elum
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NWH Joe-Bob
PostThu Nov 14, 2019 11:01 am 
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Great report.  Thanks for posting.

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"If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide."

— Abraham Lincoln
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Hutch
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PostThu Nov 14, 2019 11:45 am 
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D. Inscho wrote:
Glacial grooves
Glacial grooves

Love this area. Every time I've been there the clouds rolling over the crest do this neat trick.

Ditto on the thanks for advancing the art form of trip reports.
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Zloi
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Joined: 30 Sep 2009
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Location: Boorien, a state of mind within the Washington state of mind
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PostThu Nov 14, 2019 8:57 pm 
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Love your photographs. You have a talented eye.
I have a friend in Florida the bane of whose existence is fire ants. Apparently they are very common there.  I've never seen them in Washington--it's a little distressing to hear of your experience, but I suspect you are right. There is a reason they are successful as a species (like many invasive plant species)--they are adaptable and flourish in a wide range of settings.
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RichP
here and there



Joined: 13 Jul 2006
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Location: Moscow, Id.
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here and there
PostFri Nov 15, 2019 6:46 am 
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Wonderful report.  up.gif
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fourteen410
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PostFri Nov 15, 2019 8:34 pm 
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I'm not sure which I love more - your words or your photos. Either way, your trip reports are always a treat. So good that Bodhran is still getting out at 12!
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



Joined: 13 Feb 2007
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Location: Stuck in the middle
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Mid Fork Rocks
PostSat Nov 16, 2019 12:37 am 
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Fun and informative to read. Photos worth looking at for a long time. Thanks for the report.

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Mid Fork Rocksflickr
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Summit Chief area tarns; August 30-Sept 3, 2019
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