Forum Index > Trip Reports > PINNACLE LAKE - Mtn. Loop HWY.
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CampChamp
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Location: Marysville, WA
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PostFri Jun 06, 2003 10:57 am 
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Sunday Morning, June 1st.  6:00 AM.  Can't sleep.  Get Up.  Sun's already out.  Gonna be a nice one.  Wake Julie up.  Feed Tommy. (the doggy)

Packed up, threw in the TOMonster and headed out. Wanted to go somewhere we hadn't been this year, so we decided on Pinnacle Lake.  Take Mountain Loop Highway up to Schweitzer Creek Road. Past Ashland Lake turnoff up to the trailhead.

The first quarter mile of the trail is easy-going in typical North-Cascades style new-growth.  At .25 miles you reach a point where you can turn right to go to a view of Bear Lake which has a couple nice campsites near the lake shore.  Unfortunately, we arrived there at about 8:00Am and last nights campers weren't up yet.  Because we didn't want to bother them we didn't go down to the lake.  Oh well...  Turned around and headed back to the fork.

Five minutes later, we got back to the fork and went straight ahead into the Swamps of Sadness.  It was bad and was getting much worse with each step.  About ten switchbacks took us steeply up the hillside above Bear Lake.  It did not appear that the trail had been maintained in years and that Mother Nature had taken her toll on the trail.  Erosion had COMPLETELY removed the dirt from around many huge root systems and created (although quite interesting) treacherous ladders.  There were about a half a dozen of these.  Swamps of Sadness is no exaggeration.  In many areas on the "trail" there was no choice but to just sink in up to our ankles and test our new boots.  Nasty, dirty, mucky - FUN!

After about 1.5 miles up the mountain there are some beautiful views back down at Bear Lake.  (the campers were gone).  Continuing up the trail, after about another .25 miles and at 3500 feet we hit snow.  It just happened.  Not a little-bit here or a little-bit there.  Suddenly we were in a surreal valley of six feet of snow.  Huge rocks and small cliffs on one side and trees on the other, the middle covered in snow.  About ten minutes later we hit a "body of water" that was still covered in snow and ice, with water as bright blue as the sky on the surface - and only a few inches deep made the scene even more fantastic.

Over one more small ridge we reached the lake.  Still 80 percent covered in snow and the Mountaintops covered in fog, all was white.  (In June) A breathtaking reward for enduring the mucky mess on the way up.

Will definietely try agian in another month or so when it dries out.  Reccommend!
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McPilchuck
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Joined: 17 Dec 2001
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Location: near Snohomish, Wa.
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PostFri Jun 06, 2003 2:12 pm 
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Interesting, that trail is a fun one anytime of year.  Enjoyed reading your report.  Pilchuck is a wonderful place, the forest is grand and has some of the oldest trees in the Puget sound area...1,500 year old cedars according to a FS friend who's at the top geological management level here. It also has more rain than any other place around here, exception is the Lake Dorothy/Dingford (which also has very old forests) area according to Jan's studies and charts, as seen and heard last night at the TB meeting I attended.

for Schweitzer Creek falls photos, see:

http://www.alpinequest.com/schweitzerupper.htm

McPil

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in the granite high-wild alpine land . . .
www.alpinequest.com
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CampChamp
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PostFri Jun 06, 2003 2:28 pm 
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The Pilchuck area - well, all of the Mtn. Loop Highway back to Monte Cristo I like to consider my new backyard.  I live just off of HWY 9 in Marysville and have been out almost 20 times this year.  I am from Utah, and have finally become adjusted to the climate up here and have found that this place is terrific.  The old growth, I must say, is one of the most impressive aspects of any trip I take.  There is a beautifully spooky section of Old Growth on the Elliot Creek/Goat Lake trail that is amazing.

Enjoyed the photos, I often MTN. Bike all throughout the Schweitzer Creek Forest Service road system and have made it to those falls a few times.
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salish
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PostFri Jun 06, 2003 3:24 pm 
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Great report, CC, and it makes me want to start thinking about a trip up there.

McPil: you're not kidding it's "just as seen & heard last night". Kind of eerie.....smile.gif
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McPilchuck
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Location: near Snohomish, Wa.
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PostFri Jun 06, 2003 4:56 pm 
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Same here, Pilchuck - Mtn. Loop Hwy my backyard:

http://www.alpinequest.com/mtpilchuckpage.htm

McPil

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in the granite high-wild alpine land . . .
www.alpinequest.com
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McPilchuck
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Joined: 17 Dec 2001
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Location: near Snohomish, Wa.
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PostFri Jun 06, 2003 5:14 pm 
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"McPil: you're not kidding it's "just as seen & heard last night". Kind of eerie....."

Right on Salish!  That was a good presentation Jan H. did last night on the geology of the NW.
McPil

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in the granite high-wild alpine land . . .
www.alpinequest.com
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Slugman
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PostFri Jun 06, 2003 8:45 pm 
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Nice report, CampChamp. Swamps of Sadness, I love it! I was up there a week ago, and had a very similar experience. Which did you hate more, the mud or the slippery roots? I'll take the mud over roots, since good boots will stand up to mud, but slippery roots can always get you.

--------------
"There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, There is a rapture on the lonely shore. There is society where none intrudes, By the deep sea, and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but nature more..."  Childe Harold
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CampChamp
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PostMon Jun 09, 2003 3:10 pm 
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I'd have to say that the muck and guck is more appealing than the slippery roots on the trails.  While the root systems of those old trees can be really cool to look at, a sprained ankle just isn't worth it.  Almost all the way back out of this trail (only about five minutes to go), my wife slipped on a large root and it got scary for a sec.  It hurt her ego more than it hurt her though!

I'm new to these boards and have no idea who Jan H. is or what TB stands for.  Could you educate in an ignorant fool?


CLC
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Tom
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PostMon Jun 09, 2003 3:30 pm 
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In this case TB stands for Trail Blazers, not to be confused with TB = Thomas Bentzen = Backpacker Joe = BPJ.
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