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cburton103
Chris



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PostWed Dec 18, 2019 9:22 am 
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I did the Spider Gap, Buck Creek Pass, High Pass, Little Giant Pass Loop a couple years ago, and I've been daydreaming about the high mountain Cascades scenery since. A buddy of mine and I plan to spend a week on the trail likely the first week of September 2020. We would love a 70-90 mile trip that spends most of the time on trail but up to 20-30 miles off trail for some extra adventure. We're good at navigating, but neither of us have skills beyond Class II passes, of which we've done a handful. We're looking for beautiful high mountain scenery with big, open views. The trail from Buck Creek Pass to High Pass had some of the most incredible views of my life, and that is one of the main types of scenery I would like to get to see. Lakes to do a little fishing at along the way are a plus, but not required. Any suggestions on trips? We're open to difficult logistics with shuttles, etc. Thanks in advance!
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olderthanIusedtobe
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PostWed Dec 18, 2019 10:24 am 
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It would be a bit beyond your 90 mile range (I believe it's right around 100, but not positive on the mileage), but around Glacier Peak comes to mind.  You would repeat a little bit or your Spider Gap/Buck Creek Pass loop, but that's only a fraction of the overall distance.  A portion of the trail has fallen into disrepair, so that could satisfy your off trail desires.  I haven't done it in it's entirety, but I've done a good chunk of it bit by bit.  It's incredible.  Lots of high meadowy ridge walking that I think would satisfy you, based on how much you enjoyed Buck Creek Pass to High Pass (there are a few options, but that's a portion you could repeat if you desired).  Takes in a good bit of the PCT on the west side of Glacier Peak.  There are numerous great options for side trips to extend the distance even more.


It would be a little short on distance (around 50 or 55 miles w/ a few side trips I think), but Copper Ridge/Whatcom Pass loop is really nice too.  More logistics involved with that because it is mostly within North Cascades NP and requires permits for campsites.


edit--around Glacier Peak is 96 mi. according to my guidebook, although I think that utilizes Milk Creek Trail which is not there anyomore
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cburton103
Chris



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PostThu Dec 19, 2019 12:51 pm 
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Thanks for the suggestions! I may actually end up doing the Spider Gap/Buck Creek Pass Loop again this year with a different friend, so I may try to steer away from Glacier Peak Wilderness for my week long trip.

I've heard a lot of enticing things about Pasayten Wilderness. It sounds like the scenery may be a bit less spectacular than Northern Cascades NP, but that it's easier to stay up in the high country on trails and off trail segments than other areas of the north Cascades. I've also heard that some significant portions were burned in years past. Do you have any recommendations for a big loop or traverse in Pasayten that has some good high country sections and minimal to no burned sections?
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olderthanIusedtobe
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PostThu Dec 19, 2019 1:53 pm 
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cburton103 wrote:
Do you have any recommendations for a big loop or traverse in Pasayten that has some good high country sections and minimal to no burned sections?

Unfortunately I've only nipped the edges of the Pasayten, so don't have any suggestions from personal experience.

The Alpine Lakes Wilderness is amazing, that ranks right up there with Glacier Peak Wilderness for me.  I'm sure there are some grand traverse or big loop options available there.  PCT runs right thru the middle of it so that can be incorporated as part of a long trip.
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Sky Hiker
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PostFri Dec 20, 2019 6:22 am 
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Hike the PCT between Stevens and Steheiken.
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Blowdown
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Clearing Trails
PostFri Dec 20, 2019 7:01 am 
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A trail-runner buddy of mine did this awesome 60-mile loop in the northeast Pasayten wilderness, some of it on the Boundary Trail. One look at the photos and I had to get this trip onto my short list. Lots of options to add side trips and climbs. Thanks and a tip o' the hat to Ben Luedke. Check out these photos!

Cathedral Pass Loop

Here's Ben's trip report:

Trail notes from Pasayten

Last weekend, my friend Kevin and I took a three day tour of the Pasayten Wilderness. This was a first foray into the Pasayten for both of us. Our route was about 60 miles long, and was a true loop, except for the first/last half mile. We left the trailhead Friday around noon and returned to our car Sunday just before 3.  We ran some sections and hiked other sections. Kevin celebrated his first ultramarathon 30 years ago this weekend, so we marked the event with about 30 miles total on Saturday.

We chose this time of year for our visit for a few reasons. There are no bugs to speak of at this point, whereas a few weeks ago we would've been doing battle with a constant host of horse flies (horse poop was pretty much a constant throughout our journey but not an issue at camp sites) and mosquitos. Also, we wanted to catch the larches in full yellow bloom. We weren't disappointed in either regard.

On the approach:
On the road in from Loomis, we mistakenly took the first of two Road 39 options. It's a very steep 'road' up above some pasture land, with a precipitous drop on the edge of the road.  This wasn't the right choice, as we should have continued straight on the more maintained Road 39, which is much more direct and easy to travel.  Instead, we took a circuitous route around the mountains, and probably ended up wasting about an hour.

In reflection, we like our counter clockwise choice.  More on that later.

First few miles, wide and easy to follow trail (Trail 533). Some peek a boo mountain peaks start in half a mile.  There are burn areas apparent, during this first section.  There were many gorgeous aspen trees, greeting us with brilliant yellow colors.  The trail here served up a rather unremarkable start, but the short-lived.

Amazing open tundra began, with an incredible scope of open and rolling high alpine meadows and glacier carved peaks.  The scope of the sloping peaks was surreal.  Fantastic single-track. Highly runnable. No burn here.  There were many larch beginning in this area, turned a brilliant orange in the last couple of weeks presumably.  The off-trail terrain is pristine throughout this section, and continues to be so until we later descended from Cathedral Lakes.

Took left on the Boundary Trail (Trail 533) at Horseshoe Pass. Felt the elevation at this point.  The views were no longer as expansive though, as we winded around boulders, and through forests.  No forest burn through this section though.  Could really feel the climbing in this section,  as we were generally above 7,000 feet.  We passed through larch sections, were treated to many views of surrounding peaks,  and did a lot of uphill hiking.

The trail, pretty much throughout, offered up good footing.  Loose dirt with crushed gravel gave just enough purchase for confident running, and didn't lead to much in the way of slipping at all.

While Kevin handled the 7,000 ft. + elevation with aplomb, it slowed me down considerably.  I hiked the ups and jogged the flats and downs.  Feeling the effects and more tired than expected, I decided to stop earlier than expected Friday night. We found a little creek, wonderful views and a large (already cleared) campsite just west of Teapot Peak.

We were struck by the utter silence in this area. Other than the occasional bird, chipmunk and squirrel, we heard and saw pretty much nothing else. No airplane noise, and no people until we came down from Cathedral Lakes Saturday night.

We were thrilled to realize that this late season trip met with a lifted burn ban. Fires at night and in the morning, yes please!

Saturday morning, we started moving again around 9 a.m.  More perfect trail (continuing on Trail 533) conditions, amazing views of surrounding peaks, and eventually we came to the Tungsten Mine cabins.  These were straight out of a movie about the Old West, with some modern touches such as about a thousand Boy Scout engraved signatures.  Really cool spot in the middle of nowhere, and a fun place for some HDR photography.

If one wanted to shorten the trip here, they could head down Tungsten Creek Trail( Trail 534). But....they'd miss some of the most amazing high alpine around.

As we approached Cathedral and Amphitheatre peaks, we were once again struck by the sheer majesty of this area.  It's almost overwhelming in scope. You run or hike along a mountain side, all the while staring across the valley at massive and imposing peaks. The trail follows all the way across the mountain, emerging just a mile or so below the high pass that leads you to Upper Cathedral Lake.  You emerge below a giant granite cliff face, and then find yourself up and over the pass (nothing technical about this route).

Just after the pass, we spotted our first bears. A black mama bear and her cub were moving around the alpine meadows just above the lake.  They heard us and quickly scurried in the other direction.

This entire area is exquisite, especially with the larch in full bloom.  It began to snow as we approached the lake and we had several more miles to go before nightfall, so we didn't stay and soak up the alpine beauty.

In order to take the most direct route down from Cathedral Lake, we consulted our Green Trails map. It seems to suggest that we take the first trail on the left.  Unfortunately, we did so and shortly thereafter found ourselves climbing up the backside of the rocky peak. After a while, we realized the error of our ways and retraced our steps.  If it weren't for time constraints, this entire area would've been perfect for exploring. So much for the senses to take in...

Finding the right path, we veered off to the left on trail that is not numbered on Green Trails map and began the gentle descent toward and past Remmel Lake. We never spotted that lake, bit continued down to where the trail met Trail 565 where we turned left and in 2+ miles connected to Trail 510.  We then turned left on Trail 510 following Remmel Creek and eventually the Chewuch River.  We stayed on this gently descending trail for 8 miles.  Shortly after passing the Tungsten Creek Trail (Trail 534) on our left we stopped for the evening. There are several large campsites here next to a flowing creek, as well as hitching posts for horses.  One other group of two guys were already here when we arrived, tending to their own fire.

Wanting to get a quick start to the day's climbing, we skipped breakfast on Sunday and began moving again toward the Iron Gate TRHD.  After approximately a mile and a half, we came to our intersection.  We turned left onto Trail 360.  This was the first time that we were traveling on a relatively unmaintained trail.  Looking at our Green Trails map, there was no indication that this trail was as rough and overgrown as it was.

On several occasions, we found ourselves slightly off trail. We used the Gaia app on my phone to guide us back to the trail, and continued a long and rather steep climb until we got to about 7,500 ft. This is where that trail have way to the trail up and around Windy Peak. There are two ways down from Windy Peak toward our destination, but we took the peak-bagging option that winds among the summits.  This route affords some more absolutely amazing views of surrounding peaks as well as larch and glacially carved rock. A couple of spots up here appeared quite precipitous, but proved to be pleasantly sloping without vertiginous drops.
We did come to one short, maybe 20 feet, section that winds between summit sections, with a large drop below and a narrow trail.  As a trail runner with a healthy dose of vertigo and risk aversion, I didn't like this section. Nevertheless, it's amazing country up there and it's be a shame to miss it.  While the map shows this area as unmaintained, it's actually well-marked with cairns - as opposed to Trail 360 we climbed early this morning, which hosts hundreds of downed trees and a confusing route to the top section.

Coming down from Windy Peak, Trial 342 is a bit overgrown and less maintained. You want to pay close attention to the trail turnoff (Trail 343).  We made our way to the creek below, and then began out last three quarters of a mile in up to the trail that we'd started on Friday afternoon.
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markweth
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PostFri Dec 20, 2019 8:36 am 
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I did a nearly identical loop in the Pasayten as the one posted above in September 2018. While it was certainly an incredible hike with many remarkable sections, there were also extensive burned areas. It wasnít too bad between remmel lake and the chewuch, but windy creek was scorched. Four Point Lake is an excellent side trip that I would recommend if you do this loop. Overall it was a great hike, but not one to do if youíre looking to avoid hiking through burned areas.
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cburton103
Chris



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Chris
PostFri Dec 20, 2019 9:33 am 
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Some more great options! As many good things as I've heard about Pasayten Wilderness it's definitely a place I'll visit for a few trips.

And we're not opposed to hiking through some burned area, but I'd rather not hike through it for large portions of the trip. A few miles here and there aren't a total turnoff.
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kiliki
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PostFri Dec 20, 2019 2:25 pm 
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70% of the Pasayten Wilderness has burned in the last 20 years. It's not the area to go if you only want a little burned area.

You could look at a map to extend the trip and get it up into your desired mileage, but a trip that includes the Copper Ridge Loop in North Cascades NP would be spectacular. Yes you need permits but IMO that's a good thing (keeps the crowds down, and there are good amenities at backcountry campsites like toilets and bear lockers).
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cburton103
Chris



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Chris
PostSat Dec 21, 2019 5:28 pm 
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Crazy idea, but have any of you heard of a group hiking north on the PCT 2-3 days from the north Cascades highway, catching a water taxi across Ross Lake to North Cascades NP, then traversing the NP from East to west ending with Copper Ridge? Thatís starting to look like a nice way to tie together different areas I would like to see.

I may get a chance to backpack Glacier Peak Wilderness again in August the month before my week long trip, so Iíll probably stick further north. I love the suggestion of a big loop around Glacier Peak though - Iíll definitely save that idea for a future trip
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carlb328
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PostThu Jan 02, 2020 1:43 pm 
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Why don't you do the Wonderland trail around Mt Rainier? I think that's about 90 miles.

Or hike the PCT from Snoqualmie pass to Stevens pass though I think that's a bit shorter.
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williswall
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seeking tailwind
PostThu Jan 02, 2020 10:08 pm 
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Here's some trip reports of areas you have mentioned or may be interested in:

Glacier Peak
http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8025278

Pasayten Wilderness:
http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8012499

Anything about the wonderland trail or longer/shorter loops in Mt. Rainier National Park:
https://www.williswall.com

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cburton103
Chris



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Chris
PostWed Jan 08, 2020 1:35 pm 
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I've heard great things about the Wonderland Trail. I'm going to Mt. Rainier NP in July with my in laws, so I probably won't want to repeat the same area again two months later (although I'm sure a Wonderland Trail hike would be fantastic). Also, I prefer on my longer trips to get a bit further away from it all and not share campsites or see as many people.
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PostWed Jan 08, 2020 2:59 pm 
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Check your private message folder.

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Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.
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PostThu Jan 09, 2020 8:39 pm 
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Nobody has said Mount Si.  It's such an undiscovered gem.
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