Forum Index > Trip Reports > Mount Gladys and Mount Henderson (Olympics) 10/21/20
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awilsondc
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PostSun Oct 25, 2020 4:40 pm 
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On Wednesday I climbed Mount Gladys and Mount Henderson out of Staircase in the Olympic Mountains.  The forecast was for a nice sunny day, and recent trip reports indicated that the area would be snow free.  The nice day part didn't quite materialize while I was up there, but I had a fantastic time in interesting conditions and got to visit an area of the Olympics I hadn't been to before.

From Staircase, I started hiking at 3:52am.  The trail up to Flapjack Lakes is very well graded and felt super easy, but long.  At the lakes there is a plaque / map showing the trails.  Despite taking a good look at it, I missed the turn off to Gladys Divide and found myself at the south end of the east lake.  Backtracking, I managed to find the trail and make my way up.  It was now light enough I was able to put my headlamp away, and soon after it started snowing.   I wasn't really expecting that, but it was kind of cool.  It never really snowed hard, just light flurries.  It would do this on and off all day.  As I neared Gladys divide I could see some sunrise colors.  It was projected to be a poor sunrise, so I was pleasantly surprised to see some nice color.  At Gladys Divide, the sky was absolutely on fire out towards Mount Henderson.  It was really cool.  I stopped for a bit to enjoy the show, but I was soon on my way to the summit of Gladys.

Trail to Gladys Divide
Trail to Gladys Divide
Fire in the sky
Fire in the sky
Sunrise at Gladys Divide
Sunrise at Gladys Divide
Wonder Mountain area
Wonder Mountain area

The Mount Gladys summit area is broad, hilly, and partially treed.  It seemed the high point was in some trees so I tagged it and looked for a spot to chill for a bit.  It was cold and windy, and a dusting of snow covered the ground.  Views were mostly obscured by clouds so I found a somewhat bare spot to sit and snack while I considered the rest of my day.  This was the point where peakbagger laziness / mental weakness kicked in and I started thinking of heading home and leaving Henderson for another day.  But, it was right there!!!  In such situations in the past I've almost always regretted not going for the extra peak, and I can't think of a single instance where I bucked up and pushed on for the extra peak, but ended up regretting it later.  (Bailing for safety concerns / poor conditions notwithstanding) Having learned from past experiences I quickly packed up and headed for Henderson!

Frosty
Frosty
Cruiser and Sawtooth Ridge
Cruiser and Sawtooth Ridge
On the way to Henderson (in the clouds)
On the way to Henderson (in the clouds)

I made a b-line straight down from Gladys.  Footing was a little tenuous with the fresh coating of snow, but surprisingly stable for the most part.  I contoured around Murdock Lakes aiming for the SW ridge of Henderson just east of point 5230.  The SW ridge of Henderson doesn't really go very well right on top of the ridge crest.  There are lots of ups and down and rocky outcroppings.  The first half of the ridge I frequently found myself traversing on the east side of the ridge, the calm comfortable side, while the second half of the ridge travel was best on the west side of the ridge, the windy and cold side.  Along the way the views of Murdock Lakes and Smith Lake were spectacular with swirling clouds and play of shadow and light.  I love conditions like that.  Soon the summit block of Henderson drew near and I could see Skokomish rising in the distance.  It's so cool when you see a peak you've climbed from a new perspective.  It put a smile on my face.  At the summit of Henderson clouds were clearing from Skokomish and I figured it was just a matter of time before things cleared up and I got that sunny day that was forecasted.  NOPE!  About 15 minutes later it was totally socked in and snowing again.  I ate my sandwich while I shivered on the summit while it snowed on me, too lazy to put on a layer (wasn't totally necessary anyway).  After I finished my sandwich I packed up and headed out.

Murdock Lakes
Murdock Lakes
Autumn moods
Autumn moods
Layers of frozen
Layers of frozen
Murdock Lakes area
Murdock Lakes area
Cruiser and Gladys
Cruiser and Gladys
Smith Lake
Smith Lake
Henderson
Henderson
Henderson summit block
Henderson summit block
Skokomish
Skokomish
Skokomish from Henderson
Skokomish from Henderson

I decided to head out via Black and White Lakes, but first decided to poke around the Murdock Lakes area a bit since it looked so appealing on the way to Henderson.  As I descended, the snow eased off a bit and by the time I was at the lakes there were some breaks in the clouds again.  Murdock Lakes area is really cool, I was thoroughly impressed.  I filled up on water between the lakes and headed towards B/W lakes.  I decided to aim for the saddle NE of point 5379 and see if I could traverse over to the NW ridge of point 5379 and head down to the lakes from there.  When I got to the saddle the traverse looked steep and no good so I ended up summiting 5379 via a tree schwack and super steep slopes which was kind of sketchy.  Were I to do it again, I'd investigate and strongly consider taking the south ridge of point 5379 up to the summit and down from there.  Once I was at the summit of 5379 the terrain down to B/W lakes was much more straight forward.  Fall colors were fantastic!  In fact the entire area from Gladys to Henderson and on to B/W lakes was an Olympic Mountain paradise.  I really enjoyed it, great area.  As I approached B/W lakes, I found a rock to chill on for a bit.  My feet were absolutely soaked from hiking through wet berry bushes so I stopped to wring out my socks and let my feet dry out.  It was nice to be spending some extra time just hanging out in the mountains.

Snowing
Snowing
Descending from Henderson
Descending from Henderson
Tarn reflection (Cruiser behind)
Tarn reflection (Cruiser behind)
Lower Murdock Lake
Lower Murdock Lake
Tarn side
Tarn side
Descending from 5379
Descending from 5379
Nearing Black and White Lakes
Nearing Black and White Lakes
Black and White Lakes in Color
Black and White Lakes in Color
Fall secne
Fall secne

After I got down to the lakes I easily found the trail on the north side of the lakes and began the long hike back to the car.  Fall colors were out on the trail and it was a pleasant stroll back to staircase.  I was pleased with some new trail runners I'm trying out, some Hoka Speedgoats.  They are extremely comfortable and perhaps the best on trail shoes I've ever used.  They struggle a bit with side hill / traversing though so they aren't the perfect shoe but I really like them.  Anyway, I saw a solo hiker and a group of three on the way back, the only people encounters of the day.  Great day out there, glad to have visited these peaks!

Fall colors on the trail back
Fall colors on the trail back
Water feature
Water feature
Trail
Trail
Boardwalk
Boardwalk
Fun fugi
Fun fugi
Staircase rapids trail out
Staircase rapids trail out

~ 23 miles 6500ft gain 13:30 c2c
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GaliWalker
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PostSun Oct 25, 2020 4:58 pm 
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So beautiful! Great shots. up.gif

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kitya
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PostSun Oct 25, 2020 6:28 pm 
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Amazing trip! It is ONP right?

Coral fungi are fun and come in all kinds of amazing colors:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clavarioid_fungi
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awilsondc
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PostSun Oct 25, 2020 6:36 pm 
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kitya wrote:
Amazing trip! It is ONP right?

Most of the trip is in the National Park.  The ridge from Gladys to point 5379 to Henderson and on to Skokomish appears to be the boundary line between the park and the Skokomish Wilderness, so Murdock Lakes and a lot of the cross country travel is in the Skokomish Wilderness.
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meck
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PostSun Oct 25, 2020 6:56 pm 
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Nice trip, I love that area! (spent an unplanned night out there once coming back from M.t Skok).  The pic titled Smith Lake is actually the pond several hundred feet above the lake (which is tucked into a shady "hole" below).  Those fall colors look quite cheerful!

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silence
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PostMon Oct 26, 2020 7:05 am 
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Wow ... you covered a lot of ground!! Beautiful photos as always. Have camped on snow at Gladys Divide in early season and only wandered up to Gladys. I never imagined the fall color would be so awesome up there.

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Ancient Ambler
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PostMon Oct 26, 2020 7:26 am 
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Thanks so much for your TR and amazing images from some of the best autumn-color terrain in the Olympics.  As in your recent TR from The Needles and vicinity, you've posted some of the best images I've seen from the Olympics.  I look forward to more.
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Tomlike
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PostMon Oct 26, 2020 9:39 am 
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great report!  I found that corner of the park to be surprisingly rugged.  On our trip we continued on to Lake of the Angels and Mt. Hopper, but I would love to go back to check out Murdock, Henderson, etc.
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reststep
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PostMon Oct 26, 2020 11:13 am 
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Thanks for the trip report and beautiful pictures from one of my favorite areas.

Seeing a bear or two is a possibility in the Black and White Lakes area during berry season.

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"The mountains are calling and I must go." - John Muir
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kitya
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PostMon Oct 26, 2020 11:17 am 
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Thanks awilsondc! Is there a way to go in without entering ONP from the wilderness side or it is too trailless there?
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reststep
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PostMon Oct 26, 2020 11:21 am 
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I suppose you could get in there from Mildred Lakes but it probably would not be easy.

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awilsondc
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PostMon Oct 26, 2020 7:10 pm 
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meck wrote:
The pic titled Smith Lake is actually the pond several hundred feet above the lake

I believe you are correct Meck!  I didn't even see that pond on the topo, but I'm pretty sure you are right.  I couldn't even see Smith Lake then, it was either out of view or covered by clouds.

kitya wrote:
Is there a way to go in without entering ONP from the wilderness side or it is too trailless there?

There's no easy way to get back there without entering the park.  My first thought was to head up to Lake of the Angels and on to Skokomish to head back there, but I guess the lake basin area is in the national park.  As reststep said, you could try to get back there from Mildred Lakes but it's not a lot of fun.  I tried to head up to Cruiser and Alpha from Mildred Lakes several years ago but turned back due to thick brush and stinging nettles.  I think Josh Lewis and Matt Lemke also tried the same thing many years ago and were also turned back by the brush.

I like your trip idea Tomlike.  I would have loved to continue on to Skokomish and Lake of the Angels.

Thank you for your kind words Ancient Ambler.  Your trip reports for the Olympics have been very helpful over the years.  In researching for my Lost Pass trip earlier this year I read your report from that area several times.  It was a valuable resource, thank you!
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Snowdog
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PostTue Oct 27, 2020 9:15 am 
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So pretty in Fall!  I went to Black & White lakes in the spring. We camped at the lakes and did Gladys & Henderson.  Everything was under snow- so it really was kinda black & white!
I imagine Kitya is asking because he'd like to take Cookie along.  It is in the Park, so dogs aren't allowed.

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NWtrax
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PostTue Oct 27, 2020 2:10 pm 
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Love the moody nature of this photo set, nice job! Good reminder to slide up into this quieter corner. Thanks
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Nancyann
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PostTue Oct 27, 2020 8:02 pm 
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Beautiful fall color photos! I went up to Mildred Lakes many years ago and was very unimpressed, so its nice to see how beautiful and rugged that area is when you go further into the park. up.gif
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