Forum Index > Trip Reports > Square Lake, anyone go in 2019?
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Backpacker Joe
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PostSat Dec 07, 2019 8:57 am 
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Well it sounds like most of the traffic comes from either Thunder Mountain or Deception lakes.  Ive not done the Thunder route, but the deception route isnt in any danger of getting over run. Once you drop into Square from the ridge top you really need a raft to get to any usable camp sites.

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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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MtnGoat
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PostSat Dec 07, 2019 10:39 am 
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Difficulty has never been much of a barrier to a Cascades destination being blasted.

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Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock. - Will Rogers
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Backpacker Joe
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PostSat Dec 07, 2019 7:26 pm 
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MtnGoat wrote:
Difficulty has never been much of a barrier to a Cascades destination being blasted.

Do you really believe that?  So your saying relative difficulty has zero effect of overall traffic?  Maybe that's the case when that difficulty level accompanies an established trail.  For example LOTS off people hike over Aasgard Pass every year.  From my experience a VERY small percentage of the hiking public is willing to combine off trail and difficult routes together.

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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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badknees
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PostSun Dec 08, 2019 4:55 pm 
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My brother & got there via the Icicle trail in 1964. Trail up to Wolverine Lake I recall was in terrible condition even then. We exited via Deception Lakes. Nice to know it's still difficult to reach.
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Tom
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PostSun Dec 08, 2019 5:27 pm 
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When I was in my 20s I hiked to Lake Leland.  I can't recall if it was 10 or 20 miles each way but I started to hallucinate from boredom on my way back.  I'd never go in that way to Square Lake.
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HitTheTrail
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PostSun Dec 08, 2019 6:15 pm 
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My wife and I spent two nights at Lake Leland at the end of the 1970's. I remember it as a long haul but thought the trail was as good as any back then when trails were actually being maintained. Before reaching the lake the trail went through meadowy areas that were wet, marshy and brushy. But that is a nice basin with Phoebe and Jungfrau lakes plus Granite Mt. Potholes above Lealand. Not to mention Tuck and Robin. I have always thought they should rehab some of those areas (including Square and Wolverine) to take some of the pressure off the Enchantments.
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Backpacker Joe
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PostTue Dec 10, 2019 10:54 am 
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If I remember correctly, its around 17 miles plus or minus to Square.

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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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Dick B
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PostWed Dec 11, 2019 10:46 am 
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My brother and I took horses into Square Lake back in the mid 60s. As I remember the trail was OK & pretty typical of most of the FS trails at that time. Had no problems. There had been a recent fire on the mountain north of the lake so the trail might have been maintained to get pack strings in. There was a rough trail at that time around the north side of the lake to the meadow at the head of the lake to good horse pasture. We didn't see the cabin. Camped right at the outlet.
We hit the PCT at Stevens Pass and spent the first night in the rain at Bark Shelter. Is it still there? 2nd night at Square Lake, then back to the shelter for the 3rd night. From there we went down the Icicle then up to Marys Lake for a couple of nights. Out over Frosty Pass and down the Chiwacaum. Fishing was still pretty good back in those days.
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Downhill
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PostFri Dec 13, 2019 10:55 am 
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The Icicle Irrigation District was formed in 1917 to manage the irrigation system that begins at a diversion dam located near the Snow Lakes TH and provides water to its shareholders from Leavenworth to Monitor serving approximately 4,300 acres of apple and pear orchards.

In the 1920s the IID constructed dams at Square Lake, Lower Klonaqua Lake, Eightmile Lk, Colchuck Lk, Nada Lk, Upper and Lower Snow Lakes.  The purpose of these dams was to conserve and manage the water levels in the Icicle drainage to insure sufficient flow through the orchards' growing season.  I haven't been able to relocate the article but I recall reading once that there had been a hard drought in the '20s that decimated the fruit crop one year while also killing off many acres of orchards in the Wenatchee and Columbia valleys.  If that's correct, it could have added to the motivation for constructing these dams.  All of these dams sit within the boundaries of the Wilderness area and operate under special use permits with the USFS.  As a side note, the Leavenworth fish hatchery (US Fish & Wildlife) operates another diversion dam on the Icicle River near the IID dam.

In 2018 the Chelan County Emergency Management issued a statement to residents living along the Icicle downstream from Eightmile Creek that the dam on Eightmile Lake was in disrepair and at risk of breaching which could cause a flash flood down through the lower Icicle River drainage.  They claimed that the 2017 Jack Creek fire posed an additional risk of flash flooding due to the loss of forested slopes surrounding Eightmile Lake.  There are differing opinions among locals about the situation at Eightmile Lake.  Some are worried about the condition of the dams and are concerned about the flood potential, while others saw this as a fabricated threat contrived by the irrigation districts to bypass environmental impact procedures so they can work on their dams with minimal public debate and expensive legal process. Regardless, the IID was allowed to fly in earth moving equipment, a crew and supplies and made repairs to the Eightmile dam in 2018.  This completed "phase one" of the IID plan at Eightmile who wants to next install a 300-foot drainpipe at the outlet to improve outflow (phase 2).  Last I've heard, this phase 2 plan has not been approved, but I could be out of the loop.

In addition to the proposed phase 2 work at Eightmile Lake, the IID also wants to upgrade the dam at Lower Klonaqua Lake and install a pipe between Upper Klonaqua and the lower lake so they can better manage both lake levels.  As far as I know, these plans have not been formalized nor approved.  They may also have plans for the dams at the remaining lakes, but I haven't read or heard of those.

The control of the water rights and water flows in the Icicle drainage has become a hotly contested and disputed issue in the region.  State Department of Ecology, Irrigation Districts, environmental groups, Chelan County DNR, USFS, tribal agencies, Fish & Wildlife, and others have formed the "Icicle Work Group" charged with developing the "Icicle Strategy".  The first output of their strategy was the "Eightmile Lake Dam Restoration project".  Their next plan deals with all the remaining lakes, dams and the river and has been dubbed the "Alpine Lakes Optimization, Modernization, and Automation project".

To learn about these projects, the controversies and the players in the debates here's a good place to start your reading .  While this report is written from the point of view of one side of the issue, it will give you a lot of background regardless of which side of the fence you stand.
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Backpacker Joe
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PostFri Dec 13, 2019 12:19 pm 
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I took my nephew into Colchuck lake in 2016.  While there I talked to a couple guys doing maintenance on the outlet damn using scuba gear.

[/url]IMG_0751 by JT_Bentzen, on Flickr[/img]

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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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Downhill
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PostFri Dec 13, 2019 12:48 pm 
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Backpacker Joe wrote:
I took my nephew into Colchuck lake in 2016. While there I talked to a couple guys doing maintenance on the outlet damn using scuba gear.

My understanding is that most of the dams have outlet pipes under the level of the dam and low-water levels.  They were probably checking that out.
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JonnyQuest
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PostFri Dec 13, 2019 1:29 pm 
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Thanks for the recap and link, DH.  Good info.
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Kat
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PostFri Dec 13, 2019 1:42 pm 
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I volunteer to go on the next helicopter maintenance trip - where do I sign up?    hihi.gif
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Backpacker Joe
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NWH Joe-Bob
PostFri Dec 13, 2019 7:20 pm 
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Downhill wrote:
Backpacker Joe wrote:
I took my nephew into Colchuck lake in 2016. While there I talked to a couple guys doing maintenance on the outlet damn using scuba gear.

My understanding is that most of the dams have outlet pipes under the level of the dam and low-water levels.  They were probably checking that out.

They told me they were adding concrete to the damn structure under water.

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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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Downhill
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PostSun Dec 15, 2019 12:19 am 
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Kat wrote:
I volunteer to go on the next helicopter maintenance trip - where do I sign up?    hihi.gif

If you have your commercial diver's cert not only can you go, you could even get paid big bucks!! 




JonnyQuest wrote:
Thanks for the recap and link, DH.  Good info.

You are welcome.  Here are a few more worthwile links on the topic of dams in the Icicle Valley.

A Study funded by Trout Unlimited

The "Icicle Work Group" committee meeting notes as posted the Chelan Co DNR

An article published online by NWnewsnetwork.org regarding the flood threat posed by 8 Mile Lake Dam

2016 article by the Washington Chapter of the American Water Rescource Assoc.
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