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Forum Index -> Trip Reports -> Monogram Lake, NCNP
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Kim Brown
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Joined: 13 Jul 2009
Posts: 2893 | TRs | Pics

Post Mon Jul 27, 2009 12:17 am    Monogram Lake, NCNP
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I have no idea why I chose Monogram Lake.  It just popped into my head.  JimK asked if I had plans this past weekend, and was mulling around Lost Creek Ridge, but I sorta didnít want to sound like a total nutcase and do Glacier Peak stuff again, so after I mentioned I was mulling Lost Creek Ridge, I quickly tossed in Monogram Lake, just for the hell of it.  You canít even see Glacier Peak from anywhere on this hike, so I figured it was a good balance.

So anyway, thatís how we ended up there, at Monogram Lake. 
This is 4400 gain in 10 miles RT.  This trail shoots off the Lookout Mtn trail off Cascade River Road.  Lookout Mtn is on National Forest lands, Monogram Lake is North Cascades National Park Ė so you need to obtain a permit to camp there.  No dogs.  Bear canisters are required Ė itís a new requirement for Monogram Lake and is not on the NCNP website yet.  Itís a $90 deposit at the Ranger Station, which Jim kindly put up.  I had no trouble getting the canister in my small overnight pack.  (we didnít see any bears).

We were at the ranger station in Marblemount a few minutes after 7 AM Saturday.  We recognized a friend of diceyís, who was getting a permit for Colonial Peak.  I hope they were OK during the raging, circling thunderstorms that afternoon.

The Lookout Mtn trail is steep, but a really nice, steady grade, so doesnít seem steep. 
We heard thunder rumbling and it rained off and on, and there was an occasional cool breeze.  The black flies and misquotes werenít bad at all until the brushy nettle spot at about 3300.  From there on to the jct with Monogram, the flies were present, but still not gross.  After the creek crossing, we hit the Monogram Lake cutoff Ė this is not a built trail, but rather a boot beat trail.  The tread isnít bad for the most part, but it is definitely not up to National Park standard.  After a nice traverse, it shoots up steeply (the bugs became unbearable for me, and I stopped to put long britches and a jacket on.  God it was hot!) The trail then pops out on a gorgeous basin full of big boulders, trickling creeklets, flowers, grasses and mosses.  Meadows race up to meet rocky summits above.

The condition of the trail deteriorates after the basin as it rises up to the high point of the hike at 5400í.  Slick rocks, slick, hard-packed, slimey mud, heat and flies Ė this portion was irritating as hell.  I wanted to cuss at some pretty flowers, but Iím still feeling guilty about saying ďF**k YouĒ to that interesting fungus on the Liíl Wenatchee trail last weekend, so I didnít.

We reached the high point and were in a lush field of flowers.  We heard thunder rumbling in the distance once again.  What was striking about this flowered slope was the bracketed lousewort and bistort.  Gorgeous stuff.  Neither of us had ever seen so much bistort in one place.  ďBistortion,Ē JimK called it.  embarassedlaugh.gif

We descended to the lake Ė more fabulous flowers.  Neither of us had ever seen so much columbine in one place.  (Jim didnít call that anything Ė he ainít that clever).
I felt a tingling, buzzing sensation in my thigh and lower leg, and wondered if I was a negative charge and ripe for a lightning strike.  But only in a 4 square inch place.

The lake was alive with bugs.  Oy vay! The bugs.

We took some pics, filtered water, and poked around a little, then set up camp.  About 3 minutes after the last stake was pounded in, the thunder began to roll above.  We dove into our tents just as the skies let loose.  Hard rain, hail, thunder roaring above.  It would move on, and just as it became distance, another thunderstorm came in from a different direction.  For 2.5 hours, thunderstorm after thunderstorm rolled above us.  Beautiful.

It finally stopped, and we cooked dinner.  I crawled back into my tent to get away from the bugs while Jim wandered around the lake and fell on his ass, gloriously. 
I felt that tingling, buzzing in my thigh and lower leg again, and figured the lightning was going to strike me any moment.  I wondered Ma Nature was going to get me back for cussing out that interesting fungus on the Liíl Wenatchee trail last weekend.  Iíd apologize to it, but I was in no position to do so at that time, being at Monogram Lake and all.  But knowing that Mother Nature does not give a rats ass about human excuses and blunders and apologies anyway, I figure why do it?  So I was glad I was off the hook on the apology, and didnít have to go back on that godforsaken trail.  But still, that left me worried about lightning striking me. Being stuck in a tent during a thunderstorm can really mess with your mind (and it was only a couple of hours!).

A little later, I felt like a prize horses ass when I realized the buzzing had nothing to do with lightning striking me for being bad Ė it was nettle oil from earlier in the day that was tingling my leg. doh.gif

This morning the heat and bugs were even more fierce than Saturday.  The day before, we mulled around doing Little Devil Peak, but we decided to throw in the towel and go home.  Hot hot hot climbing out of the lake basin.  Hot on the trail, and the flies were worse than Saturday, and expanded to lower elevations.  We werenít away from the winged devils til almost back to the trailhead.

This is a great trail Ė the brushy section is icky, but not too long.  Watch for nettles.  We slew quite a few, but those bastards come back, lickety-split.

I donít recommend visiting this trail until after bug season.  The flowers are amazing, however, so if itís a cool day and you can hike in bug armor, go for it.
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Rich Baldwin
Mister Eddie



Joined: 22 Dec 2001
Posts: 1656 | TRs | Pics
Location: Martinique
Post Mon Jul 27, 2009 8:53 pm   
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Hey, you're not fooling us. We know who you really are!

Excellent shots, btw.

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Was you ever bit by a dead bee?
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silly_traveler
~ roaming ~



Joined: 04 Jun 2006
Posts: 1525 | TRs | Pics
Location: kirkland
Post Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:14 pm   
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Kim Brown wrote:
The Lookout Mtn trail is steep, but a really nice, steady grade, so doesnít seem steep.

huh.gif  you sure about that?  It sounds like a huffer puffer to me  hmmm.gif

Nice pix  up.gif  haven't been up there before, maybe I'll wait till fall when it's cooler  agree.gif

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♫ You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  And you're the one who will decide where you'll go.  Oh the places you'll go. - Dr. Seuss
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Flower Sniffer
Sniffer of flowers



Joined: 12 Jun 2006
Posts: 923 | TRs | Pics
Location: Snohomish, WA
Post Tue Jul 28, 2009 7:35 am   
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Beautiful pictures!  That's interesting about the bear canister requirement at Monogram.  When we were up there...maybe 7 years ago, we kind of got charged by a bear!  I also read some other reports about a cranky bear in that area the year before we were there.  I wonder if there have been other problems.

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If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there.
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More Cowbell
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Joined: 01 Jul 2006
Posts: 5541 | TRs | Pics

Post Tue Jul 28, 2009 7:43 am   
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Gorgeous!   up.gif   No pics of Jimk on his butt?   down.gif

If you had found a slug you could have rubbed the slug slime on your nettle stings.  Or maybe you just enjoyed the tingling somewhere other than your butt for once.   wink.gif

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ďIf you want to forget all your other troubles, wear too tight shoes.Ē - Unknown
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BigSteve
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Joined: 06 Mar 2007
Posts: 9462 | TRs | Pics
Location: here now
Post Tue Jul 28, 2009 10:33 am   
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Cool place!  Odd that you didn't see the big alpha bear up there.  He likely saw you!   biggrin.gif
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chiwakum
not credible



Joined: 29 Jun 2009
Posts: 802 | TRs | Pics
Location: Ballard
Post Tue Jul 28, 2009 10:52 am   
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Matisse? Manet? Monet? (the reflection)
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JimK
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Joined: 07 Feb 2002
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Post Tue Jul 28, 2009 11:02 am   
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A nice place even with the bugs.


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Hiking Northwest
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JimK
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Joined: 07 Feb 2002
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Location: Ballard
Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 2:31 pm   
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My full report with all 40 photos is here:  Monogram Lake Report & Photos

Here are a few more photos:


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Sabahsboy
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Joined: 18 Jul 2006
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Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 4:43 pm   
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Though I visited Monogram but once, I thought it gorgeous and wish I had gone back...to camp.  Never did.  Hiked there with friend; we saw a huge bear about 100 yards or more, distant....so, the place has bears.  Maybe grizzlies(???)!  If anywhere, Monogram might be the place.  Also, that is a jump-off route to Little Devil and so forth peaks...which have the greatest relief of any mountain in Cascades..above cross-Cascades highway! It is not a canyon, but the relief is sufficiently abrupt that it qualifies.  The photos are wonderful....rather does tell me that I have encountered great flower fields in earlier years...that my little hikette to Scorpion Mountain last week is not the only time I have seen spectacular flower meadows!  Arrgh!  This getting "older" sucks...I'd love to see Monogram, again...alas, cannot take pups there, either.  Thank you for the photos!
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Layback
Proud Papa x2



Joined: 16 Mar 2007
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Post Wed Jul 29, 2009 4:57 pm   
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Wow.  Very pretty.  Thanks for turning me onto a new place.   up.gif
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