Forum Index > Trip Reports > Chikamin Peak via Gold Creek 2019-08-12
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neek
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PostWed Aug 14, 2019 7:06 pm 
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What seems like the quickest approach to Chikamin is not necessarily the fastest due to some rough terrain, but I felt compelled to complete it to tie together some previous exploratory missions.  I started at Gold Pond off I-90's Exit 54 and walked the mile to the Gold Creek trail, as you have to do since there's no public parking there, although I suppose a bike would work.  The first few miles are well-maintained, but even so I was quickly soaked from the waist down from all the dew on the brush.  Rain pants and waterproof socks would have been nice.  After the Alaska Lake junction, the trail is completely overgrown, and my upper half received a good soaking as well.  At 3600 ft I left the trail, re-crossed the creek, and headed due east to the ponds at 4500 ft.  The forest to this point was mostly open, moderately steep in spots, but with some old trail remnants to help out.  From the mosquito-infested ponds I could see the PCT way above, with a clean path up a steep rocky slope to it.  The rock here ended up being loose and unpleasant.  I would have preferred trees but there are cliffs lurking in the trees to the north.  Reaching the PCT I turned left, passed under Four Brothers, and headed up to the saddle between them and Chikamin.  This part is always a bit sketchier than I remember, and it's important to move slowly because there's some exposure on the steep dirt/grass/rock slope.  From the saddle it was a ridge walk with a single class 3 move to the familiar summit.  Clouds obscured about half of the view, but I had seen it plenty of times.  After a snack I headed back to the saddle and went east to Glacier Lake, where I was happy to not see anyone, although camping there is fairly popular.  Rather than head south back to the PCT however I wanted to check out the route down the main drainage channel to Spectacle Lake since it didn't look too bad on the map.  There was a boot path for the first third of this, but then it got pretty ugly.  The path led to a smaller creek west of the main creek and disappeared (or I simply lost it).  I had to partake in some heavy bushwhacking but eventually made it to Spectacle Lake and followed the rough path around its southern shore to the main trail leading up to the PCT.  Never did find the lower end of the "shortcut" although I hear there's a bootpath for at least a little ways.  I had some elevation to gain to get back to the Gold Creek valley but at least it was a new section of trail for me.  Passed a steady stream of NOBO hikers so was anxious to get off the PCT again.  Went back the way I came.  The small loose talus was even worse on the way down--feet just would not stay horizontal, so it was slow going.  At least the Gold Creek brush had dried out.  Despite the fairly early start I needed a flashlight for the final half hour.   Can't say I recommend the off-trail portions of this route (after taking just about every feasible approach to Chikamin I still say Mineral Creek to Park Lakes to Glacier Lake is the best), but I'm glad to have completed it and gained even more knowledge of this spectacular and close-to-home area.  Cell phone photo dump below.

Flowers along the Gold Pond trail
Flowers along the Gold Pond trail
Fireweed
Fireweed
Gold Creek
Gold Creek
Pond below PCT
Pond below PCT
These littered the talus slope
These littered the talus slope
Four Brothers in the clouds, Chikamin totally obscured
Four Brothers in the clouds, Chikamin totally obscured
Heading up sketchy terrain to the pass
Heading up sketchy terrain to the pass
Chikamin summit
Chikamin summit
Chikamin Lake from summit
Chikamin Lake from summit
Near-summit view
Near-summit view
Near-summit view
Near-summit view
Glacier Lake with Chikamin behind
Glacier Lake with Chikamin behind
Other side of Four Brothers
Other side of Four Brothers
The monolith--actually looks climbable from this side, but a tiny bit beyond my comfort zone, especially when solo
The monolith--actually looks climbable from this side, but a tiny bit beyond my comfort zone, especially when solo
Heading down to Spectacle
Heading down to Spectacle
Spectacle Lake
Spectacle Lake
Chikamin and Lemah
Chikamin and Lemah
Spectacle Lake
Spectacle Lake
Three Queens
Three Queens
Hibox and East Alta
Hibox and East Alta
Four Brothers and Chikamin with the clouds gone
Four Brothers and Chikamin with the clouds gone
Shiny
Shiny
There's a trail down there somewhere
There's a trail down there somewhere
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contour5
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PostWed Aug 14, 2019 7:46 pm 
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That’s  some hard man stuff right there!
I’ve always wanted to go in that way, but I’m Lazy,
In Ptarmigan Park, in the upper reaches of Gold Creek, are the remains of David Denny’s mining cabin, and somewhere nearby, the Esther mine.
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lopper
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PostThu Aug 15, 2019 6:38 am 
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Appreciate the "non-standard route" report.  Thanks for posting.

In September 1979, a buddy & I looked down from the summit of Chikamin and thought that I-90 looked tantalizingly close.

Down the fall line we scrambled, and then whacked the flats of Gold Creek for hours.  Sections of old trail, but mostly brush.  Long day.  Should have slogged back on the PCT.

Walking west after dark along old US10 past Ski Acres.  "what were we thinking?"
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Kim Brown
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PostThu Aug 15, 2019 12:05 pm 
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lopper wrote:
Appreciate the "non-standard route" report.  Thanks for posting.

In September 1979, a buddy & I looked down from the summit of Chikamin and thought that I-90 looked tantalizingly close.

Down the fall line we scrambled, and then whacked the flats of Gold Creek for hours.  Sections of old trail, but mostly brush.  Long day.  Should have slogged back on the PCT.

Walking west after dark along old US10 past Ski Acres.  "what were we thinking?"


Yeah, but yours and neek’s stories are interesting; all these years later, you still have a story to tell.

I feel sorry for people whose story is: great trail, sunny day, no bugs, nice views, no problems. Not memorable.

Gimme a pain-in-the-ass slog any day over a perfect trip.  up.gif

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" I'm really happy about this! … I have very strong good and horrible memories up there."  – oldgranola, NWH’s outdoors advocate.
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Backpacker Joe
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PostThu Aug 15, 2019 1:03 pm 
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Dude,  NOBODY goes up Gold Creek anymore.  LOL.  Went down that way once.   Never up.  Nice work again, Clark Kent.   up.gif

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"If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide."

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Tom
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PostThu Aug 15, 2019 2:56 pm 
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Went to Alaska Lake that way in late fall.  Enjoyed it, and have been tempted to bushwhack to Joe just for fun and stories.  I like your sense of adventure. up.gif

When we did Chikamin Peak we looped in via Rocky Run and out via Kendall backdoor (RIP).  Might be tempted to try the latter with e-bike.
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Randito
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PostThu Aug 15, 2019 3:45 pm 
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I climbed Huckleberry via Gold Creek and Joe Lake back in the dark days before the "new Crest trail" was built.  Back then there was a semblance of a trail to Joe lake.

I don't think those trails get a lick of maintenance anymore (or ever did, once the miners figured out there wasn't much gold)  , which is understandable as the valley gets regularly swept by huge avalanches in the winter and spring, so not only is slide alder the primary tree, but even the Doug Fir sections get clobbered during unusual storm events.

Hard core skiers that ski in the "Kendall Adventure Zone" on the east side of Kendall ridge sometimes get lured into exiting via Silver and then Gold Creek, but even with a deep snowpack, it ends up being less effort to skin and boot pack back up to ridge than to deal with the multiple creek crossings , giant piles of avalanche debris and "dog hair" second growth.
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neek
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PostThu Aug 15, 2019 4:15 pm 
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RandyHiker wrote:
Back then there was a semblance of a trail to Joe lake.

Oh, I went that way last year; it's not bad at all, but the trail to Joe is crazy steep. From there it's a quick hop up to the PCT. Not a bad way to get to Huckleberry.
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DadFly
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PostThu Aug 15, 2019 4:35 pm 
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I went up to Joe lake last year. Then up to the pct and down to Alaska lk and out. The trail was good except for the fork to Joe Lake. That had beed hacked out but was still a lot of up and down  to avoid patches of slide alder. The final push up the hill was really steep. Even had a rope fixed on part of it. Then there was an abandoned camp. Strange stories I am sure.
But thanks for the beta on the route up the east side upper basin. I was considering for tomorrow. I was hoping the old miners trail would still be usable but it sounds like it was obliterated.

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"May you live in interesting times"
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puzzlr
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PostSat Aug 17, 2019 12:42 pm 
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Great photos, and I enjoyed reading about the non-standard route.

What do you think those iron rods were used for? What slope were they on?

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Mid Fork Rocksflickr
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Backpacker Joe
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PostSat Aug 17, 2019 10:20 pm 
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The best way to Joe is dropping down from the crest.

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"If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide."

— Abraham Lincoln
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Brushwork
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PostSun Aug 18, 2019 3:44 am 
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That’s the easy way.

Much more fun to go up the valley, fighting alder, steep slippery climb...

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DadFly
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PostSun Aug 18, 2019 2:30 pm 
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So I got up to the turn off to ALaska lake and decided to give the Joe Lake trail a try. After  about 500 yards of heavy brush obscurrirng the trail on the good part I decided it was not worth it. Maybe if the peaks were not shrouded in mist.
Anyway, ran into two women with a standard poodle who had just come down the Alaska lake trail. It sounded better.
I got to the lake about 3:00 and paddled around for an hour. Then sat down to read and lounge.
It rained sometime during the night so even my plan B to go up to the pct and out via Kendal lakes was seeming less inviting. So I ambled slowly down the way I had come.
At least my wife was happy to see me home early.
We just got back from a nice ride across the I90 bridge and around Seward park.
Life is good.

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