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seattlehikertoo
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seattlehikertoo
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PostSun Sep 28, 2014 3:39 pm 
Sorry for the late report. It is coincidental that there have been a few reports on Chikamin lately.  For those who don't want the banter, here is an update on driving directions and the route.  For those who want to read my report with pics, it is below the lists.

Getting there:
1) The Cooper River Rd is paved half-way to the TH.
2) It is exactly 9.2 miles to the TH from 903/Salmon Le Sac Rd
3) There is only one right turn to get to the TH once on Cooper River Rd, and it is a soft right about 7 miles in.  If you get to a point where the Cooper River Rd switches back hard to the left, you have missed the turn.

The route:
1) It is 4.7 miles to Upper Park Lake, NOT 6 as the sign says.
2) It is another .6 miles to the Jct with the PCT.
3) You make a left there, and it is another .65 miles, not 1/4 mile, to an obvious Y-like JCT, where you will veer right and go up .13 miles toward pt 5402 on USGS Chikamin quad.
4) From the tarn to the summit, there is no class 4.  In fact, Iron (Mike) is correct.  There is a class 2 boot path from the saddle to the 10-foot class 3 chimney, but yes, some exposure, though nothing alarming.  You can take spicier routes up the summit block, but it is not necessary. It's 8.5 miles total.

ChikaminMap1
ChikaminMap1
ChikaminMap2
ChikaminMap2

The report:
With my surgically repaired hamstring feeling ok, I figured I'd try Chikamin.  I was initially going to hike to Upper Park Lake in the early evening and camp, but that idea faded as quickly as I did while driving to the trailhead.  I was so tired from lack of sleep that I bonked at the Mineral Creek trailhead within minutes after pulling in.

I awoke an hour or 2 later to the sound of some rock music and a raging campfire nearby.  It was probably 8pm by now - too late for trudging up a brushy trail in the dark with my gear.  That didn't sound like fun, but the allure of the Rolling Stones blaring away did.  I sauntered over there, bleary eyed, and met a nice young couple, maybe 30-ish, who were camping near their Itasca.  We talked for a long time, and I helped them keep their fire going while they helped me keep my bleary eyes going with beer.  I rarely drink, but my leg was hurting from the car ride and subsequent snooze, so it was the perfect excuse to accept their offer of friendly booze.

I went back to my Cherokee at who-cares-what time, and crashed hard.  The next morning, time was everything as I didn't get going until 830a.

I took the Mineral Creek trail to Upper Park Lake.  There were no problems with any water crossings, as expected for so late in the summer.  The first one, only a tenth of a mile in, where the trail takes a right to cross the creek has a make-shift bridge.  Interestingly, this small river is actually the Kachess, and becomes the enormous Kachess Lake thanks to a little help from humans' unquenchable thirst.  There is one major trail intersecting Mineral Creek at about 4/10th of a mile.  It is well-signed; go right (N) up Mineral Creek.  At about 1.75 miles, I crossed Mineral Creek, where earlier in the summer, I likely would have had to remove my shoes.

TrailJctBoxCanyonKachess
TrailJctBoxCanyonKachess
KachessRiverCross
KachessRiverCross
MineralCreekCross
MineralCreekCross

The nicest section of the lower trail occurs from about 1.5 to 2.5 miles, as it ascends gradually along the creek, passing some notably large Grand Firs guarding the trail on either side, as well as a large Doug-Fir growing on top of a huge rock, it's roots gripping the sides like an excavator claw.  Mineral Creek thrashed near huge boulders that look misplaced in this location in the valley, and early fall color reflected mid-morning sun.  This is a great place to fill your water.  You're gonna need it for this climb.

TreeOnRock2
TreeOnRock2
TreeOnRock1
TreeOnRock1
HugeGrandFirs3
HugeGrandFirs3
MineralCreek1
MineralCreek1
LargeDoug2
LargeDoug2
EarlyFallColor1
EarlyFallColor1
EarlyFallColor2
EarlyFallColor2

At 2.5 miles, the brushy section began as well as some annoying 20 to 30 foot up and downs.  The fun and beauty waned quickly, and a chorus of four-letter words ensued at the first swipe of an overgrown slide alder tunneling over the trail.  I wore long pants, thankfully, due to numerous reports on this section.  At one point, you have to deal with a literal tunnel of vine maple and slide alder, as well slippery mud, with a nice narrow channel scoured out of it for extra fun.  This made me glad I didn't hike up to the Park Lakes in near darkness, or in shorts for that matter.

At 3.5 miles, the brush stopped terrorizing me, the trail steepened and the basin opened up a bit offering a good view of the Box Ridge.  The trail heads into the forest and climbs erratically for the next 3/4 mile.  The only redeeming feature was the blueberries, as the trail gives you a parade of side-hilling ups and downs with some large trees to step over for good measure.  Too bad there were no blueberries left.

DownedTrees
DownedTrees
LargeDoug1
LargeDoug1
EarlyFallColor4
EarlyFallColor4
EarlyFallColor6
EarlyFallColor6

There is a notable tricky spot at about 3.75 miles, where the trail to the Upper Lake veers left and down 50 feet or so toward a drainage (dry at this time), then back up.  It was marked with a cairn.  If you keep going straight, you'll end up at the lower lake.

The trail turns northerly at 4.3 miles, and follows the drainage from Upper Park Lake for a short time, gaining 400 ft over the next 4/10 mile to a junction.  You will see an access trail to the lake (elev 4710) and a number of good campsites.  It's 4.7 miles total to this point and about 2600 feet of gain with all the minor ups and downs.

TrailHeadsNtoPkLk
TrailHeadsNtoPkLk
UpperPkLkDrainage2
UpperPkLkDrainage2

At this junction, you want to take the trail that switches back suddenly going SE.  It only does this for less than a 100 yards before turning back north, gaining 180 feet, reaching the junction with the PCT (elev 4890) in another 6/10 mile, 5.3 miles from the TH.  This is a well-signed 4-way intersection.  Go left on the PCT.  I passed another signed junction in a little over a 1/2 mile where the PCT takes a hard right.  I ignored this and stayed on the PCT for another 1/10 to .15 miles until I came to an obvious, but unmarked intersection at 5254 feet, .65 miles from the Jct with the Mineral Creek trail (This is just before the PCT turns left (W) and heads for Chikamin Pass).

JctMinCrkPCT2
JctMinCrkPCT2
PCTwHiBox
PCTwHiBox
JctGlacierLkTrail
JctGlacierLkTrail

Veer right (this is the path that will take you to Glacier Lake), and head up another .13 miles to one of the most beautiful spots I have ever seen (elev 5350).  It's just to the west of Pt 5402, and east of the southern-most point of the Chikamin ridge (Pt 6300 USGS map).  The views are stunning in all directions, with Lemah, Three Queens, and the Box Ridge powering away, and Stewart in the distance.  At this point, it's over 6 miles back to the TH and 3200 feet of gain, so I thought I deserved a few moments of shutter delay.

Pt5402wStew-zoom
Pt5402wStew-zoom
Pt5402wLemah-zoom
Pt5402wLemah-zoom
Pt5402NNW-zoom
Pt5402NNW-zoom
Pt5402wDaniel-zoom
Pt5402wDaniel-zoom

From here, it's another 7/10 mile and 550 feet down to the east end of Glacier Lake.  The boot path is pretty easy to follow as it drops 250 feet,  crossing another scenic basin (probably snow-covered until mid-August), then dropping another 200 feet to another basin area before veering east down the remaining 100 vertical feet to the eastern point of the lake. It's beautiful country through here.

SpectacleStewart1
SpectacleStewart1
WayToGlacierLk1
WayToGlacierLk1
LemahTarn
LemahTarn
GlacierLk4BrosChik
GlacierLk4BrosChik

I followed the boot path around the east end of the lake and then NW for about another 1/4 mile, staying close to lake level.  This is where the oft-talked about monolith stands formidably at the top of a 100-foot high talus field.  I scrambled up the rock-fall, and around the left side of it, and stopped for a break to admire the amazing way this 20-foot high piece of rock stands on its edge.

Monolith1
Monolith1
Monolith3Qs
Monolith3Qs

From here, I followed the drainage up to the small tarn.  I went climbers right of the tarn, staying mainly to the right of the drainage on the way up, circling around the north and west sides.  It was worth the little detour.  The area was covered with Lewis Monkey Flower, which is not seen often except in places around Mt Rainer.  The fastest way to summit Chikamin would be to stay left of the drainage as you approach the tarn, skirting up a fun little area of slabs.  I took this way on the way down.

BeginDrainage
BeginDrainage
DrainBelowTarn
DrainBelowTarn
Tarn4Bros1
Tarn4Bros1
Tarn3Qs
Tarn3Qs
TarnStewart
TarnStewart
LewisMonkeyFlower1
LewisMonkeyFlower1
LewisMonkeyFlower2
LewisMonkeyFlower2
LewisMonkeyTarnStew
LewisMonkeyTarnStew

There is an obvious little saddle between a knoll to the south of the tarn, and a grassy/heathery area past the cliffs below Chikamin.  I headed there and ascended for 100 vertical feet or so mainly S and SW, briefly more toward the Four Brothers.  Once atop this section, I found a great section of slabby rock to ascend, reminiscent of Vesper Peak.  Again, I was heading more toward the Four Brothers for the first tenth of a mile to avoid an utter scree fest I could see closer to Chikamin's SE face.  I gradually worked my way westward and then more northwest, gaining the saddle near the base of the final push to Chikamin's summit in another 1/3 mile (elev 6620, 8.4 miles total).

The little saddle between the knoll on the left and the heather/grassy area on the right is where I started angling up toward climbers right shoulder of the 4 brothers.
The little saddle between the knoll on the left and the heather/grassy area on the right is where I started angling up toward climbers right shoulder of the 4 brothers.
SteppingStones
SteppingStones
Thistle1
Thistle1
ThistleBumbleBee
ThistleBumbleBee
Thistle2
Thistle2
Followed the valley line on the left in the picture
Followed the valley line on the left in the picture
Don't get lured into going to the right. You'll get on scree. Stay more left in this picture.
Don't get lured into going to the right. You'll get on scree. Stay more left in this picture.
Follow the spine in this picture to small cliffy area just below the sky. Go left and around the cliffy area.  Then, back to the right toward the high point on the saddle.
Follow the spine in this picture to small cliffy area just below the sky. Go left and around the cliffy area.  Then, back to the right toward the high point on the saddle.
LeftAroundThis
LeftAroundThis

From the knoll at the south end of the tarn to the saddle is about 1/2 mile and 1200 feet of gain.  It's steep, but not dangerous with a flatter area about half-way up.  If you get on anything more than class 2, you are off-track.  There are some on-again, off-again faint boot paths, but I found it easy to stay on slabs and save the plants.

From this point on the saddle, it is less than a quarter mile and another 380 feet.  There is a well-defined boot path that leads up the south side of the summit block, but on the PCT (west) side.  There are some cairns overlooking the PCT that direct you to the final gully.  This is where you'll encounter the short, easy (10-foot) class 3 chimney, after which it is an easy 60-foot march to the summit.  I took my time finding the correct way, and was on the summit by 230p taking a selfie with the sh*t-eating grin of success.  It was 360-perfection with the entire Chikamin Ridge staring at me and daring me to ascend them.  I contemplated trying to find a way up the Four Brothers, or even over to Lemah, but my leg was feeling good, and I wanted to keep it that way for the 8.5 mile trek down.

Boot path on scree leads you just on the other side of the pointy cliff upper right.
Boot path on scree leads you just on the other side of the pointy cliff upper right.
Route goes above that mound of heather on right side of screen, and appears to dead end,but it actually turns 90 degrees around the corner, where you'll see the PCT off your left shoulder. To the right, you'll be looking up toward the Class 3 chimney.
Route goes above that mound of heather on right side of screen, and appears to dead end,but it actually turns 90 degrees around the corner, where you'll see the PCT off your left shoulder. To the right, you'll be looking up toward the Class 3 chimney.
Class3Chimney
Class3Chimney
BowlingBallHeadBlockingBaker2
BowlingBallHeadBlockingBaker2
LemahGlacierBaker1
LemahGlacierBaker1
3QsSpecGlacierLkStew1
3QsSpecGlacierLkStew1
3Qs4BrosBoxRidg1
3Qs4BrosBoxRidg1
3Qs4BrosBoxRidg2
3Qs4BrosBoxRidg2
OnWayDownFallStarting1
OnWayDownFallStarting1
OnWayDownFallStarting2
OnWayDownFallStarting2
LookingBackSummitFallStarting1
LookingBackSummitFallStarting1
OnWayDownFallTarnStew1
OnWayDownFallTarnStew1
StewOverPoolSlab
StewOverPoolSlab
Monolith3Qs
Monolith3Qs
PCTStew3Qs
PCTStew3Qs
PCTStew
PCTStew
PCT3Qs
PCT3Qs

I want to emphasize that if you are on anything other than class 2 before the final gully, then you have gone wrong.  There is a little exposure, and there is some minor scree.

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RichP
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RichP
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PostSun Sep 28, 2014 9:38 pm 
Thanks for the great report. up.gif  I'm so looking forward to doing this one.

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Magellan
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Magellan
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PostSun Sep 28, 2014 10:26 pm 
Fantastic pictures and great beta.  up.gif  up.gif

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Bernardo
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Bernardo
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PostSun Sep 28, 2014 10:50 pm 
Enjoyed reading your report.  Nice pictures.

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iron
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iron
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PostTue Sep 30, 2014 4:46 pm 
what happened to the hamstring (aside from old age)?

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seattlehikertoo
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seattlehikertoo
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PostTue Sep 30, 2014 9:26 pm 
Complete rupture. They basically had to put the 3 muscles that make up the hamstring back together.  These muscles had retracted down the leg a bit since the hamstring had ripped away from my ischium.  So, the newly "tied" muscles had to put back on the ischium.  This required drilling a hole in the bone and reattaching it with the requisite hardware...As far as the old age comment, hmmmm, let me think about that one...Oh yeah, that's right, I am nearly 48.  However, if I make it to the summit of Cashmere tomorrow in under 3 hours, you'll have to "retract" that suggestion as quickly as my hamstring... wink.gif  biggrin.gif

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