Forum Index > Trip Reports > Glacier Peak circumnavigation, August 8-14th 2021
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Nancyann
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PostWed Mar 30, 2022 5:13 pm 
We did a variation of the circumnav minus High Pass but starting at Meander Meadows last August in eight days. A very good friend of mine volunteered to resupply us at Mica Lake on Day Four. PM me if you want his contact info as he would probably do that again. One of these days I’ll get around to posting a trip report…

Lindsay  zimmertr
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neek
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PostWed Mar 30, 2022 7:06 pm 
zimmertr wrote:
SO, seems like the only reasonable option at this point is a full-supply carry for the length of the loop.

Turbo bummer.

Even with the road open, seems like a lot of work to save ~ 2 lb * days/2 per person.  Maybe a slight bummer, but I dunno about turbo...

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Nancyann
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PostWed Mar 30, 2022 8:53 pm 
We carried all our food for our eight day trip in 2020 (Buckskin Ridge-Frosty Pass-Slate Pass). It helped that I miscounted the dinners and ate emergency food on the last night though. hungry.gif
Seriously, it depends on how many miles a day you want to cover and your comfort level for weight, vs what your comfort zone is for warmth, dryness in wet weather, and nourishing food that tastes halfway decent.

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Bramble_Scramble
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PostWed Mar 30, 2022 11:00 pm 
Caching isn't a serious condition for me but I was considering it. I fit 6 days of food in my backpack for the Wallowas and my pack was very crammed. I guess I could strap more stuff on the outside of the pack. I just bought an air fryer that doubles as a dehydrator so maybe I can use it to cut down on food space.

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zimmertr
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PostThu Mar 31, 2022 9:30 am 
Nancyann wrote:
PM me if you want his contact info as he would probably do that again.

I don't know if I want to force a stranger to do my legwork for me but I might reach out to learn more about this backdoor and use it to cache myself. Thank you for reaching out!

neek wrote:
Even with the road open, seems like a lot of work to save ~ 2 lb * days/2 per person.  Maybe a slight bummer, but I dunno about turbo...

I bet you're one of those guys that brings along 2lb camping chairs when you backpack  wink.gif

Bramble_Scramble wrote:
I fit 6 days of food in my backpack for the Wallowas and my pack was very crammed.

This is more-or-less the problem I'm trying to solve. While I could probably do the whole loop in 3-4 days I don't think my partners would be very happy with me. More realistically we'll be doing it over 6 and that means a lot more food and a lot more pack space to account for! Plus, while I could deal with the extra 10lbs or whatever, my goal should be to lighten up their loads as much as possible to maximize how much they enjoy the experience.

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Opus
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PostThu Mar 31, 2022 2:56 pm 
I honestly don't recall what my food weight was for this trip. I travel reasonably lightweight and was able to get everything into an Osprey Exos-58 pack without much trouble. Much of the trail is good quality without huge climbs so it's not terrible. Doing the loop clockwise puts the biggest climbs a day or two into the trip so that also helps.

As far as fording the Napeequa, both times I did it I crossed mid afternoon on very warm days which certainly isn't ideal. My backup plan was to camp at the crossing and try again early in the morning if I couldn't cross.

zimmertr
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PostFri May 20, 2022 12:25 pm 

Carry shouldn't be that bad all things considered. The tricky part will be managing food storage at night without bins/poles.

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Opus
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PostFri May 20, 2022 1:05 pm 
Looks pretty good. Did you mean "Mica Lake" instead of "Milk Lake"?

Also I'd say going from Triad Lake, down the Napeequa, up and over Boulder Pass in one day would rank as "hard". I did that same distance on my first trip. This is the only part of the loop with any real route-finding, though it's not hard. Boulder Pass is a much nicer campsite than anywhere along the White River too.

Here's a CalTopo map I made last year for a friend who may do the loop around this same time. I tried to note campsites and water sources. It should be pretty accurate, aside from the work that was done to improve the Indian Creek trail.
Glacier Peak Loop notes

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zimmertr
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PostFri May 20, 2022 1:45 pm 
Yes I meant Milk. I can't find much beta on it though except an old picture that Tom shared when he did the Lime traverse. Here's the approximate route I'm planning on. No idea how cliffy the area is though. Or if my partners will even be interested in doing it once we get there. I really hope so though. Milk & Triad lakes are what I'm looking forward to most on the trip.


From the PCT it looks like the round trip looks to be about:

Distance: 2.69
Gain: 2,028
Loss: 2,215
Elevation: 6,554

Thank you for the Caltopo map. I wish I had access to that when I made mine :P

You really think Triad -> White River TH might be pushing it? Here are the approximate metrics I calculated. Massive loss obviously. But I thought it might go alright. In either regard, I did budget food for a 9th day just in case.

Distance: 15.66
Gain: 2,413
Loss: 7,144
Elevation: 7,031

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Opus
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PostFri May 20, 2022 2:06 pm 
It's hard to say. My first trip I camped a bit past Triad and went all the way to the junction of White River and Boulder Pass trails where there is a large and nice campsite. It took almost the whole day, though I did have a later start than usual getting out of camp waiting out some rain. The route down to the Napeequa Valley until the crossing is more of a boot-path so don't expect to speed along the same way as the rest of the route. It's better trail up and over Boulder.

But the Boulder Pass area has much nicer camping than down in the valley and still makes for an easy exit the final day. Back to the car in time for lunch.

zimmertr
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PostFri May 20, 2022 2:07 pm 
I was also hoping to go crosscountry from the White Chuck Glacier moraine towards the White Chuck Cinder Cone after camping at Glacier Gap. Instead of dropping all the way back down to White Pass and heading towards Red Pass. And would be interested in hearing beta on that too if anyone has done it... It would require a ford of the White Chuck River which might be spicy.


However, I have heard that section of the trail is particularly scenic? Might be worth doubling back specifically for that reason? I doubt my planned crosscountry route would leave us wanting for views though.

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Bramble_Scramble
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PostFri May 20, 2022 2:16 pm 
I went down this route after camping at the White Chuck tarns for two nights a couple years ago. There wasn't any trail that I saw until near the river. You follow a very pretty valley down to the river. I don't remember the river crossing so it must have been easy. Maybe even a rock hop.

Trails are visible on satellite imagery going up to the entrance of that small valley.

zimmertr
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PostFri May 20, 2022 2:21 pm 
Bramble_Scramble wrote:
Trails are visible on satellite imagery going up to the entrance of that small valley.

Ah sweet. I see them, thanks for sharing. I figured this route was at least somewhat well traveled as it shows up on Strava's heatmap. Nothing for Milk Lake though.

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Opus
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PostFri May 20, 2022 2:22 pm 
Apparently I never posted it, but here is what I wrote up for my 2017 trip. Basically the same itinerary!

Day 1: Began hiking a bit after 9 am, later than I'd hoped. The parking area at Grasshopper Meadows was already nearly full. The trip began with a 2 mile road walk, the road closed due to a small washout and long stream channel that had carved a foot-deep trench for a long stretch of the road. Thankfully this went quickly. A short distance up the Indian Creek trailhead two girls out for a run passed me but turned back at the first sign of overgrowth. I kept plugging along. The first six or so miles of the trail is quite pleasant through deep forest, with small brushy areas. The last six or seven to Indian Pass is overgrown, faint, and has downed trees. Not too hard to follow the route but not difficult. I slowly made my way on and setup camp at Indian Pass. Surprisingly I was the only one there! I thought for sure I'd at least have some thru-hiker company. Bugs were kind of annoying, especially as the temperature dropped, but overall a pleasant camp. 14.6 miles, 3438 ft gain.


Day 2: My plan for this trip was no morning alarm clock and to be in camp by 6pm every night. No alarm needed since it was plenty warm at sunrise and I was ready to get moving. I quickly packed, ate a nice granola and Nido breakfast supplemented by the huckleberries growing an arm length's away, then was off. I love this stretch of PCT and had a pleasant slow walk up to Reflection Ponds and on to White Pass. Flowers are mostly done except for one very nice pocket of lupine and lots of yellow corn lilies. As I enjoyed a snack break at White Pass a southbound thru hiker going by "Pony" stopped by and asked to send a message home through my inReach. She had lost hers a day or two before and wanted to let her family in Australia know she was ok. I promised to look for it, though Yana (hiking a half day or so ahead of me) found it first. Another nice stretch of trail to Red Pass, then down into the basin along Baekos Creek. I dropped my pack and went up to a little bump for a view of White Chuck Cinder Cone. Then a long drop along very pretty trail into the forest. Many fantastic campsites along the way, with a very pleasant creek flowing through an increasingly narrow valley. Incredibly clear and cold water! As I dropped further I hiked a mile or two with an older guy doing a section hike from N Fork Sauk to the Suiattle where his wife would pick him up. We parted ways at the old Kennedy Hot Springs junction, which is totally destroyed. From there the PCT is fairly rough, by PCT standards anyway. Several muddy areas, some larger blowdowns, and then a broken bridge crossing the White Chuck River. I couldn't believe the thing was still there! It was broken and draped in the river way back in 2012! I had a nice break here, was passed by a few thru hikers whose names I didn't catch, and began the long climb up Kennedy Ridge. Neat stretch of trail through a narrow but forested ridge. I made camp in a deep valley with a great stream running down through nice meadows, taking a higher site off trail with some seclusion. It was so warm with no wind I only setup my bug bivy and stayed plenty warm. Towards sunset two German thru-hikers, who didn't have real trail names but were sometimes called the "wild turkeys" showed up. 16.6 miles, 3745 ft gain.


Day 3: Sunrise brought me up early again and I was on my way. Not too far up the trail a tree had fallen at the end of a switchback. I spotted it and avoided the issue but a few switchbacks higher I saw a thru-hiker far below off trail in the meadows. He'd walked off the end of the switchback after crossing the tree. We hiked on and off the rest of the day. He had a sweet handle-bar mustache and was known as "Mr. Money Mustache". I was much faster on the uphill, surprisingly, and he was faster going downhill so we ran into each other many times. At Fire Creek Pass I went to the top of a little knob for a snack break and saw several people go past going either direction. Sadly the fire smoke had taken any views at this point. I debated turning around, maybe finishing off the Pilot Ridge Loop, but decided smoke had already compromised my Copper Ridge trip and it wouldn't get this one too! I dropped down the many switchbacks to Mica Lake, finding an older couple with a really comfortable camp setup. I went to a nice beach area for a very brief swim in the cold water, then began the long drop down into Milk Creek. Amazingly the FS and PCTA had done some work on this part! Not far below Mica I found a brand new sign, and a sign for a new toilet! Toilets on the PCT, these thru hikers have it easy nowadays. They had also thankfully brushed out the descent making it far less miserable. It was also kind of a blessing not to see the switchbacks ascending the other side of the valley. That was demoralizing enough in 2012. I reached the bottom, had lunch, and relaxed a bit before the big climb back out of the valley. It was quite warm. The climb back up was tiring. I can't believe I went all the way from Red Pass down through here and up the other side and still had energy to get to Vista Camp as a thru hiker. Missed that conditioning. Another new toilet a mile or so up. I finished the climb and ran very low on water at the top. It was very dry. I found water in the basin, as well as a large group of tents setup below. I crossed paths with the Germans again, loaded up on water, and found a nice camp on Grassy Point. Trip-planning-me had originally through trail-hiking-me would have energy to hike out to Grassy Point - what an idiot! I lounged around awhile, took a short nap, and walked nearly a mile out on the ridge to see how far the trail was still easy to spot. Easy to spot the whole way, though I left the rest for later. Another warm dead calm night with no need for a tent. Bug bivy was great due to many yellowjackets though. Fairly nice star show though the haze kept the milk way a bit dim. 16.9 miles, 4415 ft gain.


Day 4: Creepy red devil eye sunrise through the fire smoke. But slightly more visibility! I packed up camp, hiked up the trail a ways, then went straight up slope to the top of Pt.6678, stashing my pack along the way. Surely I wouldn't regret this one mile and 678ft gain detour? (narrator voice: he would). Views of Glacier Peak were stupendous and the route up wasn't difficult. There was also a nice bivy spot on the ridge with a small fading snow patch for water. Then it was a long drop down into the Suiattle. Surprisingly dry through Vista Camps. Down along Vista Creek a thru hiker named Whimsy asked if I was going to look for the log. I said no, using the bridge. No thru hiker I talked to seemed to believe the log was still there. The trail to the bridge does go through some fantastic old growth! When I thru hiked I cheated and used the log so this was all new to me. Sadly I miscalculated how far down the bridge was and my day ended up 3 miles longer because of it! On the other side I began the slow climb back up the PCT / Suiattle River trail. A few miles later I left the PCT and went up to Miner's Ridge. Five miles more to Image Lake but the trail is very smooth and pleasant for tired legs. Surprisingly I found another new toilet here too, at the junction of the trail to Miner's Ridge and Suiattle Pass. Also two tents setup, with one woman deeply engrossed in a book and not even noticing me. I had a snack break and then continued up. Still very smokey around Glacier Peak but views to the north were quite clear. I went up to the lookout and found it's occupant Russ working on the foundation. He'd been there since July 13th and hadn't seen his wife in three weeks when she hiked partway up to bring him a slice of pie and fresh fruit. I also found Lindsey and Gabriel's names in the register! I hung around a bit and then moved on to Image Lake for the night, stopping for another swim along the way. Surprisingly full camping at the lake, far more people than we'd had on the 4th of July in 2015. There was also a small tree in the lower camps heavily flagged with tape reading "bees!". They weren't kidding, there was a large hive! I went back up to the high camps and took the last flat spot, returning to the lake to watch a fairly nice sunset and have dinner. Bugs were a bit annoying. Used the full tent this night for privacy. Warm night again. 20.8 miles, 4955 ft gain.


Day5: Clear skies! Went back up to the lake for another photo, then along the ridge with great views over to Glacier Peak. Red meadows, lots of berries, and yellow corn lillies everywhere. I wandered along, keeping a slower pace to enjoy the views, and before long rejoined the PCT. I was a south-bounder for a short stretch here, crossing paths with another German hiker named "Pudge" who was very skinny. Several other people out doing the Spider Meadows / Buck Creek Pass loop. Going up to Middle Ridge I finally saw a bear! I was starting to think I'd somehow finish this loop through the heart of the Glacier Peak Wilderness without seeing one. It was across the little valley slurping up huckleberries unaware I was watching. I took some photos, then moved on to the top of Middle Ridge for lunch. Back at Image Lake I'd discovered I'd somehow lost my bag of freeze dried chicken salad so my lunches the rest of the trip weren't satisfied. I guess I should be grateful I had so many tortillas anyway. Another drop and climb and I found myself at Buck Creek Pass. I hadn't been here for over 10 years and had forgotten how pretty it was! Beautiful fall meadows, blue skies, whispy clouds, and no people! I debated camping here since the primo site was free but I knew better was awaiting at High Pass. I stashed my pack, made a quick trip out to Flower Dome, then onwards. Great trail and increasing views the higher I went. Fantastic meadows and good trail the whole way. At the pass I ran into three guys, one who seemed to be carrying an easel and canvas. Would have been interesting to see what he painted. I dropped a bit towards Triad Lake for a view and to collect some water, then up to High Pass. Years ago I'd needed an ice axe. This time any snow was easily avoided. What an incredible place! Grand peaks with glaciers, smaller grassy knobs, a pretty lake, and whispy clouds. I hoped to setup camp on the ridge but it was far too windy. I found a reasonably sheltered camp down in the valley, then climbed back up high for dinner and sunset. Great sunset! I closed up my pyramid tent expecting to get cold overnight. 17.9 miles, 4962 ft gain.


Day 6: I expected to get cold way up here overnight, having packed light on warm clothes and figuring I could ride out one high camp. I was glad I had fully anchored everything because around midnight I heard raindrops! A heavy cloud had descended and the high winds pelted my tent. Having a very sturdy pyramid tent was very nice and I stayed pleasantly dry, though everything else around me was soaked. Morning brought a very thick cloud and maybe 20 ft of visibility. I had planned to wander around High Pass a bit but there wasn't much point with no views. I waited until about 9 am when the winds subsided and packed up, descending into the Napeequa valley. At first finding the route was tricky with no visibility but lower it became much more apparent. Route finding was very self explanatory, following the creek down through really nice meadows. I did wish I'd brought gaiters since my legs and feet were quickly soaked from the wet plants. Marmots everywhere. Green meadows. A nice creek. Flowers. Puffy white clouds. Glaciers. An entire day without seeing a human. This is what wilderness should be! I kept dropping down, slowed by photo ops, and before long reached the end of the upper valley. A large snowfield and failing snowbridge over the creek marked the end. I moved to hikers right and easily found the descending trail into the Napeequa proper. Steep trail, dusty and slippery in places, but not difficult to follow at all. Before long I was down along the river. A bit confusing here as I initially through I had to ford the river, only to discover on the far side that was a mistake, then crossed back. Oh well. Felt good on sore feet. Then it was a nice walk down the valley on surprisingly good trail. Far less brushy than Indian Creek and very pretty. Awhile later I reached the actual ford for the ascent to Boulder Pass. This one was much deeper, nearly crotch deep on me and I'm 5'9" but with short legs. The deepest part is only 10 ft or so but this is a real river crossing. I made it across, had a nice lunch and dried out my soggy gear in the sun. Then it was up and up to Boulder Pass with nice views down to the snaking Nappeequa as I went. Some nice meadows below Boulder Pass were inviting to stop but my inner thru-hiker convinced me to keep moving on. Also making my final day shorter meant I'd find real food sooner. The views at the pass were quite nice but also windy. I could see small clouds forming and dissipating at the tops of the peaks. I crossed over the pass and had a nice break picking and eating fat huckleberries before dropping into the valley. Down below I reached an unsigned trail junction. I wandered out along it for a photo before returning, finding a nice camp not far below with a toilet. I was tempted to stay but once again the thru hiker in me said it was too early, keep moving. I figured I'd find something a bit lower but also forgot I was no longer on the PCT with established camps all over the place. In the end I had to walk all the way down to the White River before finding a great camp along the river, reaching that about 7pm. Very calm and pleasant night in the dark valley. 16.3 miles, 2210 ft gain.


Day 7: Slept in a bit since I didn't have far to go, at nearly the last of my food, and was off. Not far down the trail I ran into a deer hunter with a tricked out bow, the first person I'd seen in 36 hours. I moved on, finishing off the easy trail and was surprised to find lots of tire tracks the the White River trailhead. Rolled my eyes at the people who had surely driven around the barricade only to find the further I walked the better the road became. Then I spotted construction equipment tracks. The road was being repaired! About halfway down I saw a pickup truck pull off to the side and a guy in an orange shirt unload some pipes. He said they'd been working since Tuesday and would be finished by the end of this week, though it was up to the FS when they reopen the road. He offered me a ride back but I was determined to do the whole trip on foot. Reached my car and was happy to clean off in the river and change into clean clothes. Then even hungry enough for a burger at Zeke's in Goldbar! Spotted several thru hikers hitching east to Leavenworth at Stevens Pass but nobody looking for a westbound ride. 6.4 miles, 455 ft gain.


Fedor, Nancyann, jaysway, zimmertr
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PostFri May 20, 2022 3:38 pm 
zimmertr wrote:
The tricky part will be managing food storage at night without bins/poles.

This might be overkill if you are trying hard to cut on weight, but I'm a big fan of the Ursacks with the Opsak bags within. The absolute largest size is 8.8oz, which for this trip you might need a couple of depending on how much food you bring and how many people are going. For one/two night trips I bring a smaller version. I've started to really enjoy camping in cross-country/more exposed places without good hanging options, and with the Ursack there is no stress about any critters getting into your food. Even in places where I'm not worried about bears I find it helpful.

I hope you have a great trip, this looks difficult but super fun! In addition to the great TRs already here, I remember reading this one a while ago from a really good landscape photographer who hammock camped the loop: https://www.mountainphotography.com/gallery/glacier-peak-loop-trek/

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