Forum Index > Trip Reports > Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop via White Pass with a side of Blue and Red 8/16-8/20/17
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Nancyann
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Nancyann
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PostTue Aug 22, 2017 1:09 pm 
This turned out to be my favorite trip of the summer, despite having to pay the bad weather dues on our first day and again on our third night. We left the Cadet Creek Road, where the Bald Eagle trail begins, a little after noon, with hopes of reaching Long John Camp eight miles away, before dark. The first two miles of trail were very brushy, so going was slow.
Beginning of trail, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Beginning of trail, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Eventually, the brush torture ended, and we followed a very nice old trail up to Curry Gap, where it began to rain.
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Curry Gap, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Curry Gap, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Curry Gap, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Curry Gap, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Curry Gap, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Curry Gap, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
The Quartz Creek trail at Curry Gap has been completely overtaken by brush, due to lack of use.
Curry Gap, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Curry Gap, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
We continued on up Bald Eagle Mountain in the rain, and found a nice spot to set up the tent at about six miles, thankful that we carried extra water for dinner. It was at this point that I discovered that I forgot to remove my 2 1/2 lb. rice bag from the bottom of the pack, which I had been using for training weight. lol.gif
First night bivy spot, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
First night bivy spot, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Rice bag accidentally brought along, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Rice bag accidentally brought along, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
It was very windy and foggy all night, and the next morning we were in a white-out until about 11am, when miraculously, the sun appeared!
First night bivy spot, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
First night bivy spot, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
So, we happily packed up and headed out on our journey, spending the day traversing many beautiful green meadows interspersed with delightful ridge-running on the Bald Eagle trail.
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
We passed Longfellow Mountain, and headed up June Mountain, where we found great views of Glacier Peak and Pilot Ridge.
Glacier Peak and Pilot Ridge, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Glacier Peak and Pilot Ridge, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Glacier Peak and Pilot Ridge, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Glacier Peak and Pilot Ridge, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
We even got a little peek-a-boo view of Upper and Little Blue Lakes, which we were going to visit the following day.
Upper Blue Lake and Little Blue Lake from the Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Upper Blue Lake and Little Blue Lake from the Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
We set up camp a little ways past the Blue Lake junction, and had great views towards Glacier Peak and the headwaters of the North Fork Skykomish.
Second night camp, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Second night camp, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Second night camp, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Second night camp, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Second night camp, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Second night camp, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
The weather gods were smiling on us the next morning, but Glacier Peak was collecting ominous clouds, so we decided to just dayhike up to look at Blue Lake, and then head up the PCT to Indian Pass for the night, hoping to be a little east of the crest for better weather.
Blue Lake High Route, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Blue Lake High Route, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Blue Lake High Route, Bald Eagle Trail/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Blue Lake High Route, Bald Eagle Trail/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Blue Lake High Route, Bald Eagle Trail/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Blue Lake High Route, Bald Eagle Trail/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Upper Blue Lake, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Upper Blue Lake, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Upper Blue Lake, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Upper Blue Lake, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Fall colors were beginning to appear, and it was a beautiful morning to be up enjoying the views. So far, we had seen no one at all since we began our trip. smile.gif
Blue Lake High Route, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Blue Lake High Route, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Blue Lake High Route, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Blue Lake High Route, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
However, we could see that our little weather window was going to close, because Glacier Peak had disappeared behind billowing clouds, and the wind had a definite chill to it, so we had lunch and then headed up to Indian Pass. At Dishpan Gap we met the first person in 2 1/2 days, a gentleman who was day hiking up to Blue Lakes from his camp at Meander Meadows. Surprisingly, we didn't see any thru hikers, maybe they are still a little further south.
Arriving Dishpan Gap from the Bald Eagle trail, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Arriving Dishpan Gap from the Bald Eagle trail, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Looking back at Dishpan Gap, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Looking back at Dishpan Gap, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Approaching Kodak Peak, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Approaching Kodak Peak, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Meander Meadows from the PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Meander Meadows from the PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
By the time we arrived at Indian Pass, it was very windy and cold, under threatening clouds. We set up the tent behind some trees that worked as a windbreak, and prepared for the worst. eek.gif The wind roared all night,and it rained a little intermittently, but the weather gods smiled on us again, and by morning the storm had passed, and it was sunny again! So, we packed up and headed up the trail to White Pass on one of my most favorite stretches of the PCT. At this point, we began to meet many section-hikers, and had fun sharing our various adventures. It turned out that camping at Indian Pass was a good choice, because it rained a lot harder near White Pass. The meadows were still a beautiful green color, even though it has been such a dry summer.
Buck at Indian Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Buck at Indian Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Wildflowers near Indian Pass, PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Wildflowers near Indian Pass, PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Indian Pass, PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16/8/20/17
Indian Pass, PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16/8/20/17
Indian Pass, PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16/8/20/17
Indian Pass, PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16/8/20/17
Between White and Indian Passes on the PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Indian Passes on the PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Indian Passes on the PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Indian Passes on the PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Indian Passes on the PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Indian Passes on the PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Indian Passes on the PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Indian Passes on the PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Indian Passes on the PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Indian Passes on the PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Indian Passes on the PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Indian Passes on the PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Cloud patterns over Foam Creek Basin, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Cloud patterns over Foam Creek Basin, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Cloud patterns over Foam Creek Basin, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Cloud patterns over Foam Creek Basin, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Cloud patterns over Foam Creek Basin, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Cloud patterns over Foam Creek Basin, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Cloud patterns over Foam Creek Basin, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Cloud patterns over Foam Creek Basin, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Indian Head Peak from the PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Indian Head Peak from the PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
View from the PCT near White Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop, 8/16-8/20/17
View from the PCT near White Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop, 8/16-8/20/17
View from the PCT near White Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop, 8/16-8/20/17
View from the PCT near White Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop, 8/16-8/20/17
White Mountain from the PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
White Mountain from the PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
White Mountain from the PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
White Mountain from the PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
View from White Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
View from White Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
We found a nice spot near White Pass to set up camp, and then decided to make the most of a gorgeous day and dayhike up to Red Pass.
Sloan Peak from PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Sloan Peak from PCT, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Glacier Peak was just emerging from the clouds as we arrived, perfect timing!
Glacier Peak and the PCT from Red Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop 8/16-8/20/17
Glacier Peak and the PCT from Red Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop 8/16-8/20/17
Glacier Peak and the PCT from Red Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop 8/16-8/20/17
Glacier Peak and the PCT from Red Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop 8/16-8/20/17
Red Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop, 8/16-8/29/17
Red Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop, 8/16-8/29/17
Red Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop, 8/16-8/29/17
Red Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop, 8/16-8/29/17
View from Red Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop, 8/16-8/20/17
View from Red Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop, 8/16-8/20/17
View from Red Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop, 8/16-8/20/17
View from Red Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop, 8/16-8/20/17
View from Red Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop, 8/16-8/20/17
View from Red Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop, 8/16-8/20/17
View from Red Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop, 8/16-8/20/17
View from Red Pass, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop, 8/16-8/20/17
We met a handful of people coming and going over the pass, including a gentleman who was carrying an old REI frame pack that he used since he was 16. I had a red one just like it, but have since moved on.. agree.gif I was so happy to finally get to see what Red Pass really looked like, because forty five years ago, the other time I was there, you couldn't see your hand in front of your face, it was raining sideways, and we ended up bailing out at Kennedy Hot Springs the next day. Time for reflection... smile.gif The views were beautiful in the late afternoon light on our hike back to White Pass, and we talked to quite a few more section hikers, including some who were coming up for the eclipse the next day. We also chatted with a young German fellow who was trying to tell us about a "pig with thorns" he had just seen cross the trail. He referred to his phone app for translation, and we finally figured out it was a porcupine he saw. lol.gif
Between White and Red Passes, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Red Passes, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Red Passes, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Red Passes, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Red Passes, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Red Passes, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Red Passes, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Red Passes, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Red Passes, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Red Passes, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Red Passes, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop 8/16-8/20/17
Between White and Red Passes, Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop 8/16-8/20/17
Thankfully, the weather held, and we enjoyed a clear night filled with stars on our last night, and enjoyed a relaxing hike down the North Fork Sauk trail the next day to where we parked our other car. I felt very fortunate to be able to spend five days in such a beautiful part of our state, one of my most favorite areas!
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk Loop 8/16-8/20/17

chiwakum, Kenji, ejain
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RichP
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PostTue Aug 22, 2017 4:09 pm 
Nancyann wrote:
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17
Bald Eagle/North Fork Sauk loop 8/16-8/20/17

Doesn't look to get much use compared to other trails in the area. That's a lovely loop.

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olderthanIusedtobe
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PostTue Aug 22, 2017 5:56 pm 
up.gif Looks like an excellent trip! I've only gotten in a day hike along LCR, I haven't traipsed along that area much this year compared to recent years. I'm missing it. Thanks for all the wonderful pictures.

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Nancyann
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PostTue Aug 22, 2017 7:56 pm 
Yes, Rich, this trail doesn't get much use, probably because it's so overgrown and maybe because you can't do a loop using Quartz Creek anymore unless you want to do a 4 plus mile road walk. It's a very well built old trail, with lots of intact bridges, a pleasure to walk on. smile.gif Thanks olderthanIusedtobe, glad you enjoyed the pictures. Summer's not over yet, fall colors are beginning to show, and the hordes of biting torture machines have subsided, get out there and enjoy!

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Kim Brown
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PostTue Aug 22, 2017 8:02 pm 
The USFS did a lot of work on Bald Eagle a few years ago. And I think you're right that the washed out road sorta hurts the trail. People coming in from Quartz Creek or the N Fk Sky aren't likely to be excited about that road walk. That camp at mile 6 - there's a waterless, viewless site Jim and I dubbed Camp Dismal, or Pathetic, or Desperation; I can't remember which. Is that where you camped? We opted to go farther and ended up camping in the middle of the trail with a 2 minute walk to great views of Glacier Peak. Looks like a fantastic trip! Beautiful photos!

"..living on the east side of the Sierra world be ideal - except for harsher winters and the chance of apocalyptic fires burning the whole area." Bosterson, NWHiker's marketing expert
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Nancyann
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PostTue Aug 22, 2017 9:06 pm 
Oh, that's funny Kim. This impromptu camp was definitely waterless and just a couple of feet off the trail, but we were actually quite pleased with it, especially since it was flat. up.gif What kind of loop did you and Jim do? Glad you enjoyed the pictures! It is one of my most favorite places on earth up there. (When the weather is nice, that is!)

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mbravenboer
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PostTue Aug 22, 2017 9:53 pm 
Very nice up.gif Was just thinking about doing that with Benchmark back, so this is good info smile.gif. Interesting to see some red colors already! That rice lol.gif

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Nancyann
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PostTue Aug 22, 2017 10:18 pm 
Re: my rice bag that tagged along...I was trying out a new lightweight backpack that just has one large storage compartment, and I didn't even notice it was still in the bottom until I pulled out some rain pants. It made a very nice pillow for my neck that night. biggrin.gif

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geyer
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PostTue Aug 22, 2017 11:08 pm 
I can definitely see why it was your favorite trip of the year. Looks absolutely stunning!

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gb
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gb
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PostWed Aug 23, 2017 10:52 am 
That sure looks like a wonderful loop trip through classic Glacier Peak Wilderness country.

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Nancyann
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PostWed Aug 23, 2017 10:57 am 
Yes, gb, it was wonderful this time. Somehow we got lucky and we arrived at the most scenic places in between two weather systems!

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Kim Brown
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PostWed Aug 23, 2017 7:29 pm 
Nancyann wrote:
What kind of loop did you and Jim do?

We were just there to explore on an overnighter; we wanted to get to Bowser Lake, but we didn't ascend the ridge in the right place and ended up in dead, crispy, rip-saw-skin-slicing krumholz and got cliffed out. We saw the lake; that was it. The persistent snow finger across the trail stopped us from going farther. If we had a multi-day trip planned, we could have negotiated the snow finger with care, but that finger was at a place of fantastic views, the sun was shining on the trail - and it was time for dinner. So we called it good. I would like to do the trip you did! I've done Quartz Cr to the Bald Eagle summit, Quartz to Curry Gap, Sloan Creek to the snow finger, N Fk Sky to Bald Eagle beyond the Blue Lake cutoff (I think one of your slope photos is a portion of snowed-in Bald Eagle trail from a WTA work party I was on in 1999). Blue Lakes from N Fk Sky and Bald Eagle..But not everything in one swoop. It's like I walked a fractured Picasso painting. I'd like to do one big, fat trip. Such a nice trip; one of my favorite trip reports from this year. Yes it is!

"..living on the east side of the Sierra world be ideal - except for harsher winters and the chance of apocalyptic fires burning the whole area." Bosterson, NWHiker's marketing expert
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Nancyann
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PostThu Aug 24, 2017 10:25 am 
Sir-Hikes-A-Lot, I was actually thinking about you, Luke and Jessica during this trip, because it would make a sweet trail runner's loop once you got past the first two miles of brush-bashing! Thanks Kim, I hope you get out there soon. The colors are beginning to change and the bugs are minimal, perfect timing for one big, fat trip! up.gif

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PostWed Aug 31, 2022 11:01 pm 
Once upon a time I did a day run from Sloan Cr. Campground to Curry Cap then over Bald Eagle to Cady Pass and North to White Pass then down to the start. In a couple of weeks I hope to do a three-day loop hike from the West Cady Ridge trailhead that will include summit camps on Benchmark and Johnson and finish using the Quartz Creek trail. We don't mind some brush, but is the latter even passable now?

Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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