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newc14
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PostTue Jul 19, 2022 5:41 pm 
I'm looking for more information about a couple areas and POIs in the Sultan Basin. I was looking over google maps for some places to fish/camp and came across Lake Chaplain and couldn't find ANY information about it. Not on WDFW, not fishing reports, nothing. Until I came across a post in nwhikers and then proceeded to spend the last 3 days trawling the depths of different threads learning about the last 20+ years of DNR f***ery.

Anyway, all of this to say that some things were mentioned that I really would like more info about and specific directions if possible. I'm familiar with the Mtn Loop Hwy, but haven't had interest in the Sultan area until now.

specifically, Here GeoHiker mentions an old guard station and old growth trees. Does it still exist trees included? And how would one get there? I don't know most of the locations he references.

Second, does anyone have recent info on fishing in Spada? I know of the report stating low nutrients, but WDFW says there are fish in there, but I don't think many people go there so the most recent fishing report I can find is 10 years old. Is it worth trying?

Third, several people mention "Onely Pass", but I can't find ANY info on it. Is it an abbreviation or unofficial name? Even using nwhikers search only yields this one thread. What is it, where is it, and can I access it?

Lastly, there was one mention of Copper lake in the thread covering the history of Sultan Basin, it shows just NE of Spada but WTA doesn't have any trails listed in that area. Is there any "official" access any more?

Any and all info would be great. There's a lot of really good information, but some of it is 10-15 years old, so I'm trying to find more up to date info.

Thanks

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JonnyQuest
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PostTue Jul 19, 2022 6:47 pm 
Other than Onley Pass, I can't speak to the specifics.  You'll cross Onley pass as you follow Sultan Basin Rd to Spada Lake.  You'll also see it marked on most maps, including Google Maps.

Based on a quick read of the linked GeoHiker thread, I'll guess that the old Elk Creek guard station is probably named after Elk Creek, which is a trib of the main (or north) fork of the Sultan just before it flows into Spada.  Grab a map and reference GeoHiker's info from the 5/1/2010 11:27pm post in the link.  Maps even show a road "to the NE" as mentioned in the thread.  This should give you a good sense of location.  Not exact, but that's what makes exploration fun and rewarding.

Hint on narrowing location down further - GH's next post in that thread notes that the stand of old growth behind the old Elk Creek guard station was influential in Sno PUD not raising the dam.  That should give you a clue as to elevation within which to search (and not search).  Again, all part of the sleuthing and personal exploration.  If everything special had GPS coordinates, nothing would be special.

No clue as to fishing in Lake Chaplain.

hikerbiker
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philfort
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PostTue Jul 19, 2022 6:59 pm 
Easiest way into Copper Lake would probably be the Sunrise Mine trailhead, over Headlee Pass and the Vesper/Sperry ridgeline (where there's a steep pocket glacier).

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Joey
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PostTue Jul 19, 2022 7:23 pm 
If you poke around on the USGS website you can download old topo maps.  Maybe one of them will show the guard station.

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newc14
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PostTue Jul 19, 2022 8:15 pm 
JQ, Appreciate the pointers! I saw Elk Creek but didn't want to make any assumptions. That combined with Joey's suggestion should probably get me pretty close

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Nancyann
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PostTue Jul 19, 2022 8:50 pm 
There are many hidden treasures up in that area if you don’t mind bushwhacking, but I didn’t know about the cabin!

You probably couldn’t find any information on “Onley Pass” because it is spelled Olney Pass.

We fished in Spada three years ago and there were some nice cutthroats, but you have to spend some time looking for them because it’s a big lake.

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newc14
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PostTue Jul 19, 2022 8:56 pm 
Nancyann,

As soon as JQ mentioned it I saw that was the issue, for some reason it is misspelled by multiple people in that thread  rolleyes.gif  lol.gif  I appreciate the update on Spada! Were you bank fishing or boat?

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Nancyann
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PostTue Jul 19, 2022 9:05 pm 
We were in a boat, one of only two on the entire lake on a lovely spring day. smile.gif

newc14
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Schroder
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PostWed Jul 20, 2022 8:54 am 
The old Guard Station was where Elk Creek converges with the upper Sultan River. It fully collapsed about 15 years ago but there are still remnants there. The huge trees are just to the east of it.

The old road up the Sultan River heads north just as you start climbing the Greider Lakes Trail. The bridge over the river was washed out in the 1990 floods but the road beyond is still in pretty good shape and can be easily explored. There used to be cabins at Vesper Creek and at the end of the road below Red Mountain. There was an active mining operation up Vesper Creek in the 1970's and a trail up it to Vesper Peak.

As philfort mentioned, the easiest way to Copper Lake is to go over the Vesper-Sperry saddle from the Sunrise Mine trail.

I used to fish Spada Lake from a canoe but not for 30 years. There should be plenty of fish there.

Everything changed up in the basin when Snohomish County P.U.D. raised the height of Culmback Dam to start producing power in 1984. Prior to that, there was a road near the Greider Lakes trail that went up Williamson Creek and to several cabins up there and the old 45 Mine camp below Copper Lake. There was a road built from the dam across the south side of the lake to reconnect Williamson Creek when the lake level was raised and the original road was flooded. This new road also provided access to Bald Mountain and Cutthroat Lakes. It was closed after 9/11 to keep people away from the dam.

Olney Pass is the pass on the Sultan Basin Road that you go over into the Spada Lake basin.

The original dam was built in 1960 and there was no lake there at all.

Lake Chaplain is the primary drinking water reservoir for south Snohomish County and is off limits to the public.

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newc14
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PostWed Jul 20, 2022 3:03 pm 
Thank you for such a comprehensive reply! I am really fascinated learning about the changes and history of the area, finding old ruins and abandon areas is cool, but knowing the history behind it is even better

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H. Hound
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PostWed Jul 20, 2022 3:18 pm 
Here is a fun read on the history of the .45 mine inc. It was one of several at the head of the basin. Access back in that mine's day wasn't easy from the Sultan side.

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Dusty Trale
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PostWed Jul 20, 2022 3:58 pm 
The old DNR cabin up in the Sultan Basin near Elk Creek shown in the photos of Geohiker's May 1, 2010 report was the one I help put a new roof on about 1979. I was working for the DNR out of Sultan back then. We hand splint the cedar shakes and nailed them up on the roof. I had wondered what had happened to the cabin after all these years.

hikerbiker
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newc14
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PostWed Jul 20, 2022 4:06 pm 
It's incredible how much stuff can change in a few decades. I plan to make a trek up there in the next few weeks and see what I can find, maybe post a trip report with some up to date pic. Though that might be sad to see compared to what it looked like when you built it

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Chief Joseph
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PostWed Jul 20, 2022 5:22 pm 
philfort wrote:
Easiest way into Copper Lake would probably be the Sunrise Mine trailhead, over Headlee Pass and the Vesper/Sperry ridgeline (where there's a steep pocket glacier).

Pretty sure that any description using "Easy, Easier, Easiest" should be not used to describe this route.  smile.gif

I have one read of one hardcore dude that completed that route...the other way being a long and brutal ascent via the Williamson creek road from the west.

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Go placidly amid the noise and waste, and remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
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newc14
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PostWed Jul 20, 2022 6:27 pm 
Yeah by all appearances and topo maps, it's a pretty steep climb from all but the southwest side of the lake

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