Forum Index > Trip Reports > Chiwaukum Traverse
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
jdk610
Member
Member


Joined: 21 Aug 2012
Posts: 273 | TRs

jdk610
Member
PostWed Jul 13, 2016 6:34 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Until last Monday, I hadn’t spent much time in the Chiwaukums. I’d been up Chiwaukum Creek a couple times, and I’d also done a fun little loop out of Scottish Lakes High Camp during larch season. But I hadn’t done any real exploring and didn’t have a good sense of the geographical layout of the Chiwaukum range.

I decided to change that by putting together an early-season Chiwaukum traverse. I traveled on foot (a little hiking, a little running, a little slogging) from the Chatter Creek trailhead (TH) to the Lake Ethel TH, and used my bike as a shuttle between the two. More specifically, I parked my van at the Lake Ethel TH and rode down Hwy 2 and up Icicle Creek Rd, stashing my bike in the trees near the Chatter Creek TH. Then I climbed up to Icicle Ridge via the Chatter Creek trail and traversed past Lake Edna and Cape Horn to (Hey) Ladies Pass. With that classic stuck in my head for the rest of the trip, I traveled down Chiwaukum valley on the Chiwaukum Creek trail, and then used the North Chiwaukum Creek trail to connect to Scottish Lakes, before finally exiting at Lake Ethel.

The traverse turned out to be ~31 miles and 10k of elevation gain, and the bike shuttle was 36 miles and 1800 ft of gain. You can view the route here on Caltopo, or the image below.


Bike shuttle: I chose the direction of the bike shuttle based on the fact that I wanted to ride my bike down Highway 2 (rather than up it) in order to move quickly and spend as little time as possible on the busy highway. My goal was to leave at first light, but I was running a bit late and started at 545. At that time of day there was still minimal traffic on eastbound Hwy 2 and I had a blast cruising through Tumwater Canyon. I turned right on Icicle Creek Rd and slowly pedaled the rest of the way up Icicle Canyon to Chatter Creek TH.

I rode my old road bike (2006 Specialized Ruby). Wish I’d brought my gravel grinder instead – even though there were only ~5 miles of gravel roads, they would’ve been much more comfortable on fatter tires.
I rode my old road bike (2006 Specialized Ruby). Wish I’d brought my gravel grinder instead – even though there were only ~5 miles of gravel roads, they would’ve been much more comfortable on fatter tires.
Wheeeeeeeeeee! through Tumwater Canyon
Wheeeeeeeeeee! through Tumwater Canyon

At Chatter Creek TH I ditched my bike, transitioned into running gear, and was headed up the trail around 900 am – a little late for my taste, but luckily clouds kept the sun from getting too brutal.

The Chatter Creek trail is in great shape from the trailhead all the way up until you first cross Icicle Ridge at 6600 ft (approx 4 miles from the trailhead). A steep climb, but there are some nice views to distract you along the way.

Nearing the top of Chatter Creek trail
Nearing the top of Chatter Creek trail
Index Creek valley as seen from the top of Icicle Ridge. Apparently it’s a brushy nightmare, but it sure looked pretty from here.
Index Creek valley as seen from the top of Icicle Ridge. Apparently it’s a brushy nightmare, but it sure looked pretty from here.

Once you drop down the north side of Icicle Ridge, there are still several significant patches of snow covering the trail (see pic below). I used microspikes, but the snow was soft enough that I’m  not sure the spikes actually made a difference – I just would’ve felt really stupid if I’d slipped on the slope with spikes in my pack instead of on my feet. I was glad for my trekking poles. Didn’t bring an ice ax, and didn’t miss it.

The north side of Icicle Ridge. You can see the bootpath running diagonally from left to right in the middle of the frame.
The north side of Icicle Ridge. You can see the bootpath running diagonally from left to right in the middle of the frame.
Looking back up one of the steeper sections of snow on the north side of Icicle Ridge. The three small rocks in a row on the far right in this picture are the same three rocks just to the right of the bootpath in the previous picture.
Looking back up one of the steeper sections of snow on the north side of Icicle Ridge. The three small rocks in a row on the far right in this picture are the same three rocks just to the right of the bootpath in the previous picture.

Lake Edna was a little alpine lake wonderland, more scenic than I imagined. I was engrossed in taking pics of the lake when I noticed movement to my right. A small family of goats were peering at me over a nearby hill. Happily, these goats did not seem habituated to people. They watched me cautiously, and then took off running down the slope to the lake.

Lake Edna
Lake Edna
Goats at Lake Edna
Goats at Lake Edna
Closer view of goats
Closer view of goats

Not two seconds later I heard some scratching in the snow. Expecting another goat, I looked behind me and saw a giant marmot emerging from his den. He took one look at me and started galumphing across the snow. I wished my daughter were there to see it – she would’ve thought he was “sooooo cute!” (as confirmed when I showed her pics). Someday soon she’s gotta see one of those guys in person.


After Lake Edna I skirted Cape Horn, which required traversing a few lingering patches of snow.  Again, the snow was relatively soft and easy to kick steps. However, a fall wouldn’t have been good. Cape Horn had some long run-outs with rocks at the bottom; one of those situations with low risks but bigger consequences. For some reason it felt sketchier to me than the north side of Icicle Ridge – probably just a bit steeper. I was alone and hadn’t seen anyone since I left the Chatter Creek trail (and wouldn’t see anyone else the rest of the day), so I took it slowly on these slopes as well as in a couple of other places that had me out of my comfort zone.

Looking back at Cape Horn
Looking back at Cape Horn

From Cape Horn, I dropped down to Ladies Pass. The wildflowers seem to be peaking there right now. In addition to the red paintbrush, there were lots of yellow and purple jobbies (that’s their latin name).

Ladies Pass
Ladies Pass
Paintbrush for days. This pic doesn’t do it justice.
Paintbrush for days. This pic doesn’t do it justice.
More flowers, more Ladies Pass
More flowers, more Ladies Pass
Endless glacier lilies
Endless glacier lilies

From Ladies Pass, I picked up the Chiwaukum Creek trail. This trail also had some snow lingering above 6000 ft, but it was all relatively low angle and easy to navigate. In general conditions were mixed along Chiwaukum Creek. The trail faded away occasionally in the meadows directly below Lake Brigham, and then became very brushy before intersecting with the Index Creek trail. After Timothy Meadow there is an amazing section of clear runnable trail, all the way down to the intersection with the North Fork Chiwaukum trail.

Lake Brigham
Lake Brigham

Chiwaukum legs

North Forth Chiwaukum… this was not my favorite trail. The first section travels through a sooty burn with occasional blow-downs, before becoming brushy and mosquito-ridden with more blowdowns. The actual North Fork of Chiwaukum Creek was running high and fast. I noticed a cairn on the opposite bank, but crossing at the cairn would’ve required fording the creek just upstream of a waterfall. Maybe at lower water that’s the best place to cross, but it did not look good to me. I spent a good 40 minutes wandering up and down the streambank before finally crossing on a slick wobbly log below the falls.

After crossing the North Fork Chiwaukum, the trail begins a steep brushy climb. I can’t imagine this section of trail has been maintained or even seen much travel in recent years. Unsurprisingly, this where I hit a rough patch. I was mentally exhausted from trying to find a way across the river, the whole trip was taking much longer than I anticipated, it was getting dark, and I was tired of fighting slide alder. Waaaah. On the plus side, as soon as Chiwaukum Lake came into view, it was as though someone had waved a magic wand and instantly made the trail perfect. Thank you to whomever did all that work!

McCue Ridge trail was completely clear of brush and blow-downs, and a lovely gentle grade. Conditions stayed near-perfect all the way through the Scottish Lakes area, including the trail to Lake Julius as well as the Roaring Creek trail to Lake Ethel. (Hiking season starts at High Camp on July 25 – get some! And no I’m not affiliated with them. I just love the place 🙂 ) From Lake Ethel down to the trailhead was also in great shape, but man it went on forever.

I finally reached the van after midnight, and proceeded to immediately fall asleep in the back. The next morning I woke up, picked up my bike from the Chatter Creek trailhead, and stopped at O’Grady’s for coffee and a delicious still-warm-from-the-oven scone. That scone alone was reason enough to do the Chiwaukum traverse. Not to mention the beautiful scenery, solitude, wildlife, alpine lakes, and warm scones.

https://evergreenendurance.com/2016/07/13/chiwaukum-traverse/
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
neek
Member
Member


Joined: 12 Sep 2011
Posts: 346 | TRs
Location: Seattle, WA
neek
Member
PostWed Jul 13, 2016 10:01 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
bike shuttles make a ton of sense, especially when you're traveling solo.  nice trip!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Distel32
Member
Member


Joined: 03 Jun 2014
Posts: 941 | TRs
Location: Edmonds, WA
Distel32
Member
PostWed Jul 13, 2016 10:45 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Long day!  up.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
fourteen410
Member
Member


Joined: 23 May 2008
Posts: 1569 | TRs

fourteen410
Member
PostWed Jul 13, 2016 10:58 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Thanks for the report! up.gif  up.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Phil
Member
Member


Joined: 02 Jul 2003
Posts: 2025 | TRs
Location: Shoreline, WA
Phil
Member
PostWed Jul 13, 2016 4:13 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Awesome! up.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Sir-Hikes-A-Lot
Member
Member


Joined: 27 Aug 2015
Posts: 411 | TRs
Location: Big Bend
Sir-Hikes-A-Lot
Member
PostWed Jul 13, 2016 7:11 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
up.gif  You know I'm a fan of that bike/hike/run thing, right?  smile.gif

--------------
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. - Martin Luther King Jr.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Brushbuffalo
Member
Member


Joined: 17 Sep 2015
Posts: 1042 | TRs
Location: there earlier, here now, somewhere later... Bellingham in between
Brushbuffalo
Member
PostWed Jul 13, 2016 7:19 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Clever planning and fine execution of your plan.

Way to go Jessica!  up.gif  up.gif

--------------
Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
jdk610
Member
Member


Joined: 21 Aug 2012
Posts: 273 | TRs

jdk610
Member
PostWed Jul 13, 2016 8:36 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Thanks guys! I had fun, despite the best efforts of the N. Fork Chiwaukum trail. smile.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



Joined: 13 Feb 2007
Posts: 6293 | TRs
Location: Stuck in the middle
puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks
PostWed Jul 13, 2016 10:46 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
You'll never look at that part of the state the same again. Nice work.

--------------
Mid Fork Rocksflickr
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Brian Curtis
Trail Blazer/HiLaker



Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 1425 | TRs
Location: Silverdale, WA
Brian Curtis
Trail Blazer/HiLaker
PostThu Jul 14, 2016 8:18 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
jdk610 wrote:
On the plus side, as soon as Chiwaukum Lake came into view, it was as though someone had waved a magic wand and instantly made the trail perfect. Thank you to whomever did all that work!

McCue Ridge trail was completely clear of brush and blow-downs, and a lovely gentle grade. Conditions stayed near-perfect all the way through the Scottish Lakes area, including the trail to Lake Julius as well as the Roaring Creek trail to Lake Ethel.

You're welcome  smile.gif Your timing was perfect because we worked those trails this past weekend. They are maintained by Ted Allestad and his crews of (mostly) Trail Blazers.

--------------
that elitist from silverdale wanted to tell me that all carnes are bad--Studebaker Hoch
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
jdk610
Member
Member


Joined: 21 Aug 2012
Posts: 273 | TRs

jdk610
Member
PostThu Jul 14, 2016 8:37 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Brian Curtis wrote:
Your timing was perfect because we worked those trails this past weekend. They are maintained by Ted Allestad and his crews of (mostly) Trail Blazers.

Again, THANK YOU. You guys are awesome and your hard work is appreciated!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
chiwakum
not credible



Joined: 29 Jun 2009
Posts: 930 | TRs
Location: Ballard
chiwakum
not credible
PostThu Jul 14, 2016 6:44 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Wow!! You are a super Stud-ette!! eek.gif  eek.gif  up.gif You covered a huge chunk of one of the best places on the planet. In ONE day.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
contour5
Member
Member


Joined: 16 Jul 2003
Posts: 2651 | TRs

contour5
Member
PostThu Jul 14, 2016 6:54 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Cool trip. The fortuitous dappling of Edna with frosty remnant snow patches makes for a magnificent portrait.
I'd like to do this loop as a five or six day trip...
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
HitTheTrail
Member
Member


Joined: 30 Oct 2007
Posts: 4747 | TRs
Location: Rescuing Shackleton
HitTheTrail
Member
PostThu Jul 14, 2016 7:13 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
A big  up.gif on this one. Some of my favorite terrain was traversed here.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
mbravenboer
Member
Member


Joined: 20 Oct 2013
Posts: 1313 | TRs
Location: Seattle
mbravenboer
Member
PostThu Jul 14, 2016 9:41 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
What a fun day! Very impressive. It's very helpful to have some info on these less traveled trails!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
  Display:     All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Forum Index > Trip Reports > Chiwaukum Traverse
  Happy Birthday morroj!
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
   Use Disclaimer Powered by phpBB Privacy Policy