With an extra day off from work EastKing and I headed to the Phelps Creek trailhead with the plan to hike to Larch Knob for two nights with a trip to Cloudy Peak and North Star Mt on day 2.
Day 1 Trailhead to Larch Knob
Due to obligations in the city we didn't arrive at the TH until 12:30pm Monday. The road in was lined with pick up trucks presumably from hunters and the start of high-buck season.
We took to the trail after talking with a fellow hiker at the trailhead and we were happy to be in the trees as the temps were steadily climbing.
The trail along the creek is tame and rather uneventful
After about 5 miles we arrived at Spider Meadows.
Another mile or so and then we brached off to the left where the trail climbs very fast. The rocks heated things up and we were getting very tired. EK had a heavy pack on, mine felt like I was carrying a tank. I had WAY to much crap in my pack!! I was afraid to weigh the darn thing. The only thing I forgot was the darn kitchen sink!!
We finally reached Larch Knob and found a decent campsite in a saddle. We were exhausted and nearly fell asleep while setting up camp. We chatted with a Forest Ranger who came by while we ate dinner and he camped just above us.
Just after EK retired to his tent the moon came up and brightened things up quite a bit.
Day 2 Larch Knob to Lyman Lakes
We awoke and got a late start on the trail. We took the rock route from camp and got to the gap in an hour.
We followed the route down for a bit and even got a short glissade in. The snow was hard and icy and it felt like icy concrete on my butt as I bounced my way down on the frozen sun cups. Man that hurt!!!!
Once below the snowfield I bee-lined it for a view of the glacier. After 3 years of wanting to see it I was finally there!!!! This view made the whole trip worthwhile for me. Th glacier did not disappoint me either. It WAS all it was cracked up to be!
I could have stayed there all day, but we had more trail to pound. The color of the water was a jade/turquoise color and it was mesmerizing!!! We continued along the upper most lake before re-locating the main trail which eventually lead us to the main Lyman Lake.
While hiking down to the lower lake I was determining a turn around time that would bring us back to camp with daylight left so we could glissade down the Spider Glacier. At Lyman Lake EK and I spoke about the time and he mentioned that he wasn't feeling the greatest and was getting very tired. Lately he's done a lot of hiking and his body hadn't had much of a chance to recover during his two week vacation. A cold was kicking his butt big time and we decided to turn around at the lake. Cloudy Peak and North Star would wait another day for us, plus we had another 1500' to gain before sliding down to our camp. We briefly followed the Holden trail looking for a waterfall, after 300' down we said forget it and headed back up to the lake and our 500' back to the upper lakes.
The views were awesome above Lyman Lake. Bonanza Peak was dominant to the Northeast with Coudy and North Star to the north.
We made it back to the upper most lake and refilled with water for the 3rd time and prepared for the last 1000' gain for the day. I took a bunch more pics of the glacier before we headed back up.
We made it back up to the gap and prepared for some glissades down the Spider Glacier. Turned out we only got one decent run, and that was a short bit right below the gap, the rest was too bumpy or soft for a good slide.
Got back to camp and after dinner EK was off to bed and I took more pics of the moon as it rose just north of 7 Finger Jack
Day 3 Larch Knob to Trailhead
We left camp at 8:50 and made it down the steep junk in about 20 minutes. I was very glad that I ate a lot of the food that I packed up two days earlier, but I didn't eat enough of it. I should have thrown a free all you can eat buffet at camp both nights!! I still had an unopened bag of Chips Ahoy, oatmeal, Clif Bars, Kool Aid packets, Rice, Pringles, Granola Bars, Jerky and other stuff that I forget, but you get the idea. Cruised through the meadow where we were greeted near the bottom by a large marmot.
Left the meadow and passed a group of 3 horse riders and continued on. The return from there was uneventful and we returned to the car by 11:30am.
It was a lot of fun to finally be able to see the Lyman Glacier and have some good company. The video is still in the works but I have a ton more pictures to all to see.
More pictures are here
Will post video upon completion. Oh yeah, EastKing kept his shirt on the whole time too
Almost forgot, on our way back down Hwy 2 we saw a backpacking hitchhiker getting picked up by a passerby and I commented that the hitchers who just sit next to the road shouldn't get picked up since they are showing no effort to reach their destination and that I never pick one of them up. I commended those who are walking, especially backpackers trying to get back home. No sooner did we pass another fellow backpacker who was thumbing for a ride while walking along the hwy. After checking with EK, we picked him up. He was Mike and had hoped to do the Stevens/Snoq Pass section of the PCT. He turned around due to time constraints. WE chatted him up on our way back to town. I drove him to a bus stop in Kirkland where he hopped the 255 into Seattle which would bring him a few short miles from home. With traffic I opted to not drive into the city. I then dropped EK at his car at the Auto Shop in Kirkland and then drove myself home where I took a nice long shower
I've been thinking about almost this exact short trip for some time now. Reports like yours, with details about mileage, hiking time, and elevation gain really help folks like me to plan our own trips.
I hope you can get back for Cloudy and North Star as the views are some of the best.
We will get to those peaks. A couple of question about those peaks.
1)Is there a bootpath to Cloudy Peak
2)How is the traverse from Cloudy to Northstar. (Scramble, YDS Rating, etc.)
Speaking of peaks, I was beside myself at all the wonderful mountains there. Seeing Maude and Seven Fingered Jack there and now knowing where to go, those two peaks made next years list. Right now my cold has moved into my chest so it is time for me to take two days off and recover, I might end up missing the weekend or maybe just do another smaller hike with my wife.
That said though was a amazing trip. Beautiful location to camp with amazing views of the valley. This was probably the prettiest area in the Cascades I have seen yet. With all the amazing mountains nearby this general area will be seeing a lot of me.
It was an amazing trip. Thanks to Bryan for inviting me on this trip. It was a great experience. Here are some of my pics....
-------------- I am addicted to summits! I can't eat, drink or breath without them. Life without mountains would really suck.
Magellan, don't you ever disrespect an American hero like Derek Zoolander ever again! No one can ever compare to him.
I also liked the picture "Looking north one last time" and your pano of the meadow was much better than the one I took on Sunday.
-------------- Anything stated by me in no way reflects the attitudes or opinions of my wife
What a majestic place to be. The crowds were not there at all, just a few people besides us.
Thanks to all for the compliments on the photos, I just tried to capture the beauty the best that I could.
I can't wait until I return again!!
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