Forum Index > Trip Reports > Lillian Ridge Traverse to Lillian Lake (attempt) 9/14 - 9/15
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El Dooder
Green Earth Bum



Joined: 15 Jul 2007
Posts: 240 | TRs
Location: Olympia, Washington
El Dooder
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Green Earth Bum
PostTue Sep 17, 2013 7:05 pm 
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Encouraged by some recent trail reports from the area of Obstruction Point Road, I took Monday off for a tour of the Lillian Basin and surrounding environs, via the Lillian Ridge high route above Grand Valley.

The forecast called for warm, sunny weather on Saturday, then turning to rain and thunderstorms on Sunday. Hoping for the best, I secured a back country permit for Lillian Lake and reached the Obstruction Point trailhead at 9:30 AM. Bluebird skies and sweeping views made for a slow start as the shutterbug in me slowed travel.

Marine Layer over the lowlands
Marine Layer over the lowlands
Good ole Olympus
Good ole Olympus
Bluebird morning at Hurricane Ridge
Bluebird morning at Hurricane Ridge
Obstruction Point and trail head
Obstruction Point and trail head
Early views opening up along Obstruction Ridge looking west
Early views opening up along Obstruction Ridge looking west
easy trail grade to begin the day
easy trail grade to begin the day
tundra environment
tundra environment
Signs of Fall
Signs of Fall
Badger Valley
Badger Valley
Tarns below trail on Obstruction Ridge
Tarns below trail on Obstruction Ridge

Just before the trail drops down into Grand Valley, the Lillian Ridge turn-off ... Moose Mountain looms in the distance. The spiny ridge connects Moose and

the turnoff south along Lillian Ridge
the turnoff south along Lillian Ridge

Some of the finest ridge walking in Olympic National Park ensues ...

High ridge walk along Lillian
High ridge walk along Lillian
Scenery along Lillian Ridge
Scenery along Lillian Ridge

The Olympic Mountains Climbing Guide points out to stay on course south (straight), avoiding the steep gullies to the west (left).

About this time I began to feel the sun and heat of the day. The warming sand and sun slowed my pace as I eventually reached the summit of Moose Mountain, elevation 6,753. The summit is very flat and there is a potential campsite there. For shorter day hikes this would be an ideal stopping point. The 360 views render one of the best spots to rattle off the names of dozens of Olympic peaks.

Summit of Moose Mountain - Mt. Olympus in background
Summit of Moose Mountain - Mt. Olympus in background
Mt. Olympus
Mt. Olympus
Pt. 6753
Pt. 6753
Lillian Valley
Lillian Valley
Looking west toward Lillian Lake
Looking west toward Lillian Lake
Looking south off Moose
Looking south off Moose

Continuing on, the trail drops steeply off Moose Mountain toward Low Pass, with sweeping views of Upper Grand Valley and Grand Pass.

stark tundra of Moose Mountain
stark tundra of Moose Mountain
the trail coming off Moose
the trail coming off Moose
Looking north back at Moose Mountain
Looking north back at Moose Mountain
Grand Pass
Grand Pass

The ramble along the ridge toward Low Pass renders many interesting rock formations.

Interesting rock formations around Low Pass
Interesting rock formations around Low Pass
rock formations around Low Pass
rock formations around Low Pass
shale deposits
shale deposits
shale deposits
shale deposits
Low pass scenery
Low pass scenery
Walking through Low Pass
Walking through Low Pass

Low Pass can be reached by a way trail from upper Gladys Lakes. It looks like the route toward Grand Pass from the valley is steep.Lilian Basin can be observed very well from here. I began to plan my descent into the steep basin.

Low Pass
Low Pass
Lillian Valley
Lillian Valley
talus field below Low Pass
talus field below Low Pass
talus field I had to cross in Lillian basin traverse
talus field I had to cross in Lillian basin traverse

Like a jewel, Lillian lake and its deep blue water shines in the autumn sun.

Looking west toward Lillian Lake
Looking west toward Lillian Lake
Looking south off Moose
Looking south off Moose
tundra summit of Moose Mountain
tundra summit of Moose Mountain
Grand Valley with hint of fall colors coming
Grand Valley with hint of fall colors coming

Once at Low Pass, I dropped down into Lillian Basin, contouring SW downward, following a faint path, which ends at a large talus field. Cairns mark the way forward. After the talus field, I found no other trail markings. The information in the OMCG was crucial here to avoid some common routefinding mistakes. Be advised.

Once across the talus field, I stayed high over a spiny outcropping, then dropped down a steep grassy field, trying my best to avoid the scree pockets.

View of Low Pass from Lillian basin
View of Low Pass from Lillian basin

Once down in the valley, I took a welcomed water break and then continued on to the south end of the basin, crossing 3 braids of Lillian creek and then ascended a heather ramp toward the upper Lillian Basin.

A waterfall in upper Lillian Basin
A waterfall in upper Lillian Basin
still further in the upper Lillian Basin
still further in the upper Lillian Basin
Upper Lillian Basin - I rolled my ankle in this meadow, requiring me to stop for the night just behind the clump of trees to the right
Upper Lillian Basin - I rolled my ankle in this meadow, requiring me to stop for the night just behind the clump of trees to the right

It was here that I rolled my ankle over on a rock obscured by heather. I heard two pops and instantly went down pack and all writhing in extreme pain, fearing I had just snapped my ankle alone and off trail. Gaining my composure, I was able to hobble only 100 feet onward toward a very timely bench with two tarns and a very inviting flat, grassy meadow in the upper basin, just SE of Lillian Lake. Think I'll camp here .... Ankle not good  shakehead.gif

Inspecting my rolled ankle I had to endure walking out
Inspecting my rolled ankle I had to endure walking out

I felt thankful to have injured my ankle so close to a nice campsite.

Bench in upper Lillian Basin I camped at after I rolled my ankle
Bench in upper Lillian Basin I camped at after I rolled my ankle
Home for the night
Home for the night
campsite surroundings
campsite surroundings

The locals let me know I was not alone.

This was 5 feet from the tent
This was 5 feet from the tent

That night the moon came out, then dipped behind the mountains revealing the milky way in all of its heavenly glory.

Luna makes an appearance
Luna makes an appearance

Overnight, I decided to call off any hopes to make it to Lillian Lake, and my whole focus was getting back to the trailhead before the impending storm hit. I could sense a changing in the weather. My instincts turned out to be spot-on. Early morning dawned cloudy but with the highest reaches of the mountains glowing fire-red with sunrise.

morning breaks but with clouds ...
morning breaks but with clouds ...
Home for the night in upper Lillian Basin
Home for the night in upper Lillian Basin
Peaks in the background bask in the morning sun
Peaks in the background bask in the morning sun
hidden tarn conveniently located only 100 feet from where I rolled my ankle - think I'll call it a day ;-)
hidden tarn conveniently located only 100 feet from where I rolled my ankle - think I'll call it a day ;-)

I was worried I would not climb out of the basin in time before the rain started. Slick rocks, scree, heather and grass would make the traverse infinitely more difficult on my horribly sprained ankle.

Lillian Creek outfall
Lillian Creek outfall
looking toward upper Lillian Basin
looking toward upper Lillian Basin
One of the many braids from the Lillian Creek headwaters
One of the many braids from the Lillian Creek headwaters

I retraced my route up the steep basin slopes, biting my bottom lip in pain. I kept thinking "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time ...."  wink.gif

With sheer grit I made it back to Low Pass, and was welcomed with thunder, lightning, wind, and some sprinkles of rain. Feeling very exposed on the ridge, I quickly hydrated, ate a Kind bar and dropped down into upper Grand Valley.

Freshies from the Ursines
Freshies from the Ursines
Upper Grand Valley turning colors
Upper Grand Valley turning colors
Upper Grand Valley
Upper Grand Valley
Moose Lake
Moose Lake
Of the Amanita variety
Of the Amanita variety

Lots of thunder and lightning, and light rain in the valley. I saw not a single human being in the whole valley (and had not seen a soul since the trailhead the previous morning). I would have loved to linger here and drink deeply from the Cup of Life, but my whole focus was to keep slowly moving and beat the ominous storm clouds brewing overhead.

I won't lie: I was bushed. The climb out of Grand Valley was hard. I made numerous stops. And sunbreaks just so happened to heat up the trail at the most inopportune moments when I was most exposed. Then a cold wind would blow hard, forcing me to put back on my rain jacket and fuss with details.

I still was loving every minute of it.  lol.gif I am truly a glutton for punishment.  bawl.gif

Obstruction / Lillian Pass in center
Obstruction / Lillian Pass in center
Looking up at Lillian Ridge
Looking up at Lillian Ridge
Ascending out of Grand Valley toward Obstruction / Lillian pass
Ascending out of Grand Valley toward Obstruction / Lillian pass
Ascending
Ascending
Storm clouds approaching
Storm clouds approaching

Once I had gained the ridge, I knew I was home free. But not before a cold, dark and windy storm finally hit the area, blasting 50+ mph winds with thunder and lightning. I could just see the truck at the trailhead as things turned nasty. I was sure glad I had hoofed it quickly all day. From my campsite location in Lillian, I had started hiking at 7:30 am and made it back to the Obstruction Point trailhead at 3 pm. not bad time considering the adversities.

All in all, this was a trip that taught me a lot about how to handle adversity. I am lucky that I was able to exit on my own power. A friend this year broke his ankle in the back country and it nearly happened to me. Despite all this, this hike offered just about everything I look for in an adventure. I hope to make it to Lillian Lake next year, and perhaps make it to Cameron Pass via the high route.

Question: Can someone explain exactly how to connect to Lake Lillian from the upper basin? I did not get a chance to explore this last section and am very curious.

here are some more pix:

Lillian Ridge looking north toward Obstruction Point trailhead
Lillian Ridge looking north toward Obstruction Point trailhead
Summit of Moose Mountain
Summit of Moose Mountain
The spiny ridge between Pt. 6753 and Moose Mountain
The spiny ridge between Pt. 6753 and Moose Mountain
Campsite in upper Lillian basin
Campsite in upper Lillian basin
McCarthy Peak
McCarthy Peak
A meadow in upper Moose basin
A meadow in upper Moose basin
Reviewing my route looking north along Lillian Ridge
Reviewing my route looking north along Lillian Ridge
Upper reaches of Lillian Basin
Upper reaches of Lillian Basin
Summit of Moose Mountain
Summit of Moose Mountain
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williswall
seeking tailwind



Joined: 30 Sep 2007
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Location: Bellevue, WA
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seeking tailwind
PostTue Sep 17, 2013 8:02 pm 
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This was a very interesting report. I'm glad you made it out OK, nice job in coping with adversity.

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half fast
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PostTue Sep 17, 2013 8:25 pm 
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El Dooder wrote:
Inspecting my rolled ankle I had to endure walking out
Inspecting my rolled ankle I had to endure walking out

Ouch!!!!   Glad you made it out ok.  Beautiful photos....  up.gif  up.gif thanks !!

*Hope you are icing your ankle...

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It's all about the fun, oh and maybe the chocolate - half fast
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Abert
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PostTue Sep 17, 2013 9:40 pm 
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Great effort to get out.  I'm afraid my only method of prevention is hoping something like that doesn't happen to me.

El Dooder wrote:
Question: Can someone explain exactly how to connect to Lake Lillian from the upper basin? I did not get a chance to explore this last section and am very curious.


The route To Lake Lillian goes to the right of the ridge in the first picture. From the meadows in the bottom of the drainage (first picture shows the top of those meadows) I contoured around (rising and then dropping some) and then more steeply up to hit the bottom of the meadows below the lake (second picture shows the band of intervening trees) mostly looking to avoid what seemed like steeper terrain near the end of the ridge and to find the path of least vegetative resistence.  In the second picture you can also see the upper part of the lake's meadows and the headwall that you ascend from them to reach the lake.

Basin below Lake Lillian
Basin below Lake Lillian
Looking down from Lake Lillian
Looking down from Lake Lillian

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Photos
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El Dooder
Green Earth Bum



Joined: 15 Jul 2007
Posts: 240 | TRs
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El Dooder
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Green Earth Bum
PostTue Sep 17, 2013 10:25 pm 
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Abert, that is what I was aiming for before I turned my ankle, forcing me to camp just short of that upper route.

Thanks
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silence
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PostWed Sep 18, 2013 8:54 am 
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sorry for your misfortune ... hope you are healing well .. and hope you get back there again .. the cameron ridge traverse is awesome

we found the oly mtn guide not all that helpful .. but when we did it we were going off an early version ... anyhow we ended up just following our nose and found a good way trail up to the lake from the lillian creek basin .. it was ez peezy up to the lake from where you camped

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PHOTOS: https://www.flickr.com/photos/33792231@N00/sets
FILMMAKING: http://www.crestpictures.com/

Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb. Bob Dylan
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FungiFan
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PostWed Sep 18, 2013 9:16 am 
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Thanks for the TR and pictures. I'm sure we will be referring to them and the ensuing discussion when we finally commit to going to Lake Lillian. Hope your ankle heals quickly and glad you were still able to enjoy your trip!

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Stupid isn't illegal...but sure comes with consequences.
Famous last words: 'Here, hold my beer and watch this.'
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IanB
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Vegetable Belayer
PostWed Sep 18, 2013 9:24 am 
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So sorry about your injury.   frown.gif

Way to go, maintaining your composure in order to safely retreat.   up.gif

Best wishes healing that ankle!

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"Forget gaining a little knowledge about a lot and strive to learn a lot about a little."    - Harvey Manning
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RichP
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here and there
PostWed Sep 18, 2013 9:26 am 
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Having just started using trail shoes full time for hikes, twisting an ankle is my biggest fear. I love the lightness but miss the support of a full on boot.
Here's hoping that you have a speedy recovery and are able to get in some fall hikes.
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contour5
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PostWed Sep 18, 2013 9:46 am 
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Very nice TR and pictures! Nicely done on the hobble out. This is the scary season for off trail injuries...
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El Dooder
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Green Earth Bum
PostWed Sep 18, 2013 10:21 am 
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We've all been in this situation before.

It's the little details that can add up to a bigger injury. I was developing hotspots in my boots, so I changed to my trail runners, which I love to hike in. I shouldn't have been in them in an off-trail situation for obvious reasons. I also was moving fast trying to make the final push to the lake and stopped paying attention to each step.
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silence
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PostWed Sep 18, 2013 10:27 am 
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Coming out of the Olys a few years ago I slipped on a submerged rock while crossing a creek and broke my wrist ... we still had 13 mi till the car. While unfortunate .. at least it was on our way out. But, whenever I think back I tell myself ..  I made it and I paid my dues ... which makes that trip Xtra special for me  ;-)

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PHOTOS: https://www.flickr.com/photos/33792231@N00/sets
FILMMAKING: http://www.crestpictures.com/

Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb. Bob Dylan
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El Dooder
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El Dooder
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PostWed Sep 18, 2013 10:28 am 
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silence wrote:
we found the oly mtn guide not all that helpful .. but when we did it we were going off an early version ... anyhow we ended up just following our nose and found a good way trail up to the lake from the lillian creek basin .. it was ez peezy up to the lake from where you camped

The OMCG was helpful to me, mostly on the descent below Low Pass to avoid the most common routefinding errors. Even following the guide I did end up controlled sliding down on short, steep patch of scree. On the way back I was able to avoid this section, but also had to deal with the ankle on steep grass, which gave me no lateral movement whatsoever.

The Cameron ridge looks great. I'll be back probably next year and would like to connect with points beyond to Cameron and Lost Passes.  up.gif
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silence
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PostWed Sep 18, 2013 10:31 am 
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El Dooder wrote:
ven following the guide I did end up controlled sliding down on short, steep patch of scree.

we ended up here too .. what a ride! but also threw the book away trying to find the way trail ..

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PHOTOS: https://www.flickr.com/photos/33792231@N00/sets
FILMMAKING: http://www.crestpictures.com/

Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb. Bob Dylan
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