Forum Index > Trip Reports > Mid-Fork Pasayten >Pasayten Airstrip>PNT(XC Heather Lake/The Parks)>PCT>Slate Pass 8/11-8/17
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Nancyann
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Nancyann
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PostFri Aug 26, 2022 1:14 am 
I had been wanting to see Heather Lake for quite some time because it is so far from anywhere and hard to find, but within reach of the Frosty Creek Trail (PNT) in one of my favorite areas of the Pasayten. Hiking Partner, being a high lakes fishing guy, had been there twice, but that was many years ago, so he was game. We also had been intrigued by The Parks, on a ridge directly east of Heather Lake, which used to have a faint boot path to it that was used to get partway to Heather Lake. We had beta that this path was hard to find now due to extensive blowdowns, but we love abandoned trails, so it was worth a try! DAY ONE The stars aligned perfectly with a weather window and our schedules so we took off early Thursday morning and made it ten miles up the Mid-Fork Pasayten to the junction with Fred’s Lake Trail and set up camp in a primitive site next to a creek. It was amazing to actually walk up a Pasayten River trail that had been fully logged out, the only one so far. We had checked with the ranger station before leaving and they promised this one and the Frosty Creek Trail (PNT) were good to go, so looping up and over Frosty Pass to the PCT would be our route. Previously, when we did the loop via Buckskin Ridge, we knew nothing had been cleared, so we brought our own saws and it took eight days to complete the loop. This year we had high hopes to cruise right through in seven. (Things didn’t go exactly as planned… clown.gif) Excited to start on our big adventure!
North up the Mid-Fork
We set up our tarps due to thunderheads on the distant horizon and I drifted off to sleep with visions of The Parks dancing in my head…only to wake up two hours later to a completely flat air mattress. rant.gif The Red Devil strikes again! My Big Agnes had been patched since she developed a slow leak during my Sierra trip in June and I had zero problems during two subsequent trips. Did some little elf crawl in her stuff sack since then and poke another hole in her? Now the only thing that was between me and the cold hard ground was my ultra-lightweight paper thin insulated pad and I had no more sleep and five more nights to go bawl.gif When HP woke up we had a conference and decided to try to find the leak at the Pasayten Airstrip water trough, six miles up the trail. DAY TWO After stumbling up the trail in an exhausted stupor, my spirits lifted when HP dunked the Red Devil in the trough and found and patched the leak. Pretty aspens and asters along the Mid-Fork
Water therapy for the Red Devil
I lay in some soft grass and napped for a couple of hours. When I woke I tested the repair and we were good to go. Off we headed to the PNT at the north end of the Airstrip.
The Frosty Creek Trail had indeed been logged and we celebrated not having to saw our way through for endless hours. However, now we were being treated to booming thunder and eventually rain showers. It was too warm to put on rain gear so I just wore my base layer and got wet. My boots also got wet when we crossed Chuchawateen Creek, but that was where we planned to camp anyway, so I just set them under a tree to dry and walked around barefoot. HP just rolled his eyes. rolleyes.gif DAY THREE Thankfully, we woke up to sun and I arranged all my still-wet clothes and boots to get the maximum amount of rays. We only had a few more miles to go up the PNT until it was time to find the abandoned path to The Parks and Heather Lake. We packed up at a leisurely pace and started up the trail, only to find it strewn with blowdowns! banghead.gif Apparently the crew ran out of time and just left. clown.gif After several hours of climbing over/under countless downed trees of all sizes, we finally made it to the spot where HP remembered turning off the Frosty Creek Trail. We had briefly chatted with a couple of guys the previous day who said it was impossible to find, and indeed things didn’t look very promising. By that time it was late afternoon, so we decided to set up camp at the edge of a meadow near Frosty Lake and look again in the morning.
DAY FOUR We woke up early after a good night’s rest and left our gear at camp. To make a long story short, we did find faint traces of trail between endless blowdowns, slide alder and thickets of currant bushes with prickly burrs that stuck to everything. No pathways through meadows with shoulder-high wildflowers, but every now and then, a cut log.
After several hours, we took off from the route to The Parks and climbed xc to the top of a knoll overlooking beautiful Heather Lake! It was so cool to find it, finally.
There was a faint path which scrambled steeply down to the lake, but it was such a significant drop in elevation, we decided to just enjoy the view from the knoll. From here, we could also see over to the ridge The Parks was on, and a bit of its lovely green meadows.
It had taken us so long to bushwhack up to Heather Lake, and the trail that continued on to The Parks looked so wrecked, that sadly we would have to save it for another trip. Especially hard now that there is a fire up there. frown.gif Thankfully, it didn’t take us quite as long to go back to our camp because we still had to climb another couple of miles up the PNT to our next camp at Frosty Creek Basin, one of my most favorite places in the whole Pasayten and the afternoon shadows were lengthening. Heading back from Heather Lake.
On the way to Frosty Creek Basin
Up until now, we had seen almost no one for three days and reveled in the solitude. At our Frosty Creek Basin camp we met two couples who were attempting a loop from Harts Pass, but they did not have current beta re: the best route to take, so we updated them on the Mid-Fork logout, and they were very appreciative. I was a little surprised that neither group had researched the route’s current conditions, especially for such a long loop, but they were both from out of state. confused.gif We were happy to have the beautiful basin all to ourselves, and we slept out under a beautiful starry sky, complete with the Milky Way overhead. DAY FIVE I woke up to a beautiful sunrise and walked down the trail to my happy place to take some pictures.
We needed to get an early start to make up some miles we lost the previous two days obsessing with our off trail objectives. We were hoping to get as far as Goat Lake where we had camped on our previous loop trip, but ended up at a very nice campsite below Woody Pass, due to chatting with quite a few thru hikers who were heading to the Canadian border that day to finish their 2,500 mile odyssey from Mexico. Their excitement was contagious and we felt privileged to be there to share it with them. On the way to Frosty Pass
Looking back at the way we came.
Over the pass and looking northwest into the North Cascades and Canada.
Beautiful Hopkins Lake
DAY SIX I woke up early again to a spectacular sunrise. It was surprisingly warm, so I got up to enjoy the beautiful colors.
We had a very nice view of rugged Rock Mountain, and I wondered if any NWHikers had climbed it.
As we worked our way up to Rock Pass, the great views continued.
Looking down Rock Creek
Fireweed was the star of the show, which was interesting because the last time I was here at the exact same time, it had faded and the blueberry bushes were turning red.
As we headed south down the PCT, we met more and more thru hikers finishing up and also quite a few section hikers, some of whom were senior citizens of our vintage. We had a jolly good time sharing stories and making fun of ourselves, this was our tribe! agree.gif Gorgeous views and perfect weather!
We enjoyed the beautiful day and the camaraderie of our fellow hikers, but we had a long way to go to reach our planned campsite on Devil’s Backbone, our final night. We stopped at a creek at the base of Devil’s Backbone to fill our water bottles and had a nice visit with a solo thru hiker “The Professor” who was resting there on his way back to Harts Pass after tagging the border. He had quite an interesting story and was planning on heading over to the CDT to continue his adventure. After tanking up on water, we trudged up the steep trail to our camp and enjoyed our last dinner of the week while watching a beautiful sunset. It was a perfect spot for reflection on our big adventure and once again, I fell asleep watching the stars progress across the beautiful night sky. DAY SEVEN Sunrise on Devil’s Thumb
Looking back at the way we came.
We were anxious to get an early start, because we had heard that it was going to be a very hot day and we had nine miles to go with quite a bit of elevation gain. It didn’t take long though before we realized that it was going to be slow going due to the number of thru hikers, section hikers and even day hikers who we kept running into, and who all seemed to want to chat. Once again I was surprised at the number of hikers doing a loop similar to ours, who weren’t sure which trail they should be taking to complete the loop. A couple didn’t even have maps. dizzy.gif As the day dragged on it got hotter and hotter, so when I finally saw the Slate Peak Lookout I was very happy!
Looking back at the lookout, getting close to the finish line!
When we reached the car it was time to celebrate our 63 mile journey and who better to share it with than “James Bond”, a very nice, but very fragrant thru hiker who was looking for a ride down to Mazama. He was a pretty interesting guy who was an air traffic controller on leave from the Houston Space Center, and it was fun hearing about his job and how his thru hike had changed his perspective on life. We dropped him off in Mazama and headed to Pateros for a tasty dinner to celebrate completing our journey.
We both agreed that despite the rough start we had the time of our lives because we had a perfect blend of several days of solitude followed by lots of fun interaction with fellow hikers as we made our way down the PCT to Slate Pass and fabulous weather, amazingly smoke free, simply the best!

RichardJ, olderthanIusedtobe, Cyclopath, contour5, Brushbuffalo, jaysway, raising3hikers, awilsondc, Lindsay, sooperfly, Dave Weyrick, Pyrites, Opus, HitTheTrail, Slim, Lightning_bug, John Mac, rubywrangler, Randito, geyer  ~*CutebutChossy69*~
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Opus
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Opus
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PostFri Aug 26, 2022 8:16 am 
Good try for The Parks, you made it further than I did last year! The blow down on Frosty Creek is a real killer.

Nancyann
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Nancyann
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Nancyann
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PostFri Aug 26, 2022 8:47 am 
Now that there is a fire up there, it will be even more difficult to try for The Parks. Opus, did you find Heather Lake?

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sooperfly
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PostFri Aug 26, 2022 10:45 am 
Nancyann wrote:
There was a faint path which scrambled steeply down to the lake, but it was such a significant drop in elevation, we decided to just enjoy the view from the knoll. From here, we could also see over to the ridge The Parks was on, and a bit of its lovely green meadows.
I was in that area a few years ago. The trail from where you are standing down to Heather is actually pretty good! Steep, but a great trail. Down at the lake it's kind of closed in, not any great views. Camping and views from the tarns above is a lot nicer! Too bad you didn't go down, it's a "fish every cast" lake. Size is great for eating! Thanks for sharing your trip report!

Nancyann
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Nancyann
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Nancyann
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PostFri Aug 26, 2022 11:18 am 
Wow, thanks for the picture and info, sooperfly! We would have gone down, but we still had to get back to camp, pack up and hike up to Frosty Creek Basin to spend the night. However, HP has fished there twice, so he knows what’s in the lake. agree.gif

sooperfly
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Opus
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Opus
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PostFri Aug 26, 2022 12:38 pm 
Nancyann wrote:
Now that there is a fire up there, it will be even more difficult to try for The Parks. Opus, did you find Heather Lake?
No, I was just passing through as part of a longer loop over Sand Ridge and Bunker Hill to the PCT and back via Tatoosh Buttes. There was so much blowdown that slowed me down I didn't have time for a real attempt to find the trail and left it for a return sometime.

Nancyann
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Jackal
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PostSat Aug 27, 2022 11:47 am 
Nancyann wrote:
…only to wake up two hours later to a completely flat air mattress.
The same thing happened to me in the same little campsite the very next night! Awkward little tent sites but the sound of the stream all night was nice. I've been intrigued by the Frosty Creek area so thanks for the trip report! (We headed up to Carru area.) Thankfully, we got out just a few hours before the slides.

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Nancyann
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Nancyann
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PostSat Aug 27, 2022 12:03 pm 
That’s hilarious, Jackal, really? I forgot to mention that we camped next to a very nice young couple from Leavenworth who were going to climb Lago. My lack of sleep was enhanced by their two dogs, a Rottweiler and a shepherd mix, who kept coming over to our camp looking for food, and who got into a dogfight when we first arrived. lol.gif Re:Slides…we looked at that spot when we went past it and commented on how long it would be for the hill to come down. Turns out just a few days later. eek.gif

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Luc
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PostSat Aug 27, 2022 12:22 pm 
The Parks has also been on my list. I, too, tried to find the route when descending the Frosty area, but my itinerary didn't allow for too much poking around. Essentially zero signs of a path from the main trail. I think a dedicated trip just north and back would be better. Next time. Also, if you actually did make it and didn't say - I approve smile.gif [Adding] I've also wanted to trace the original route west beyond Castle from Castle Pass down to the lake. But I can't find anyone with the guts or idiocy to come with. Love the abandon trails out there.

GNGSTR

Brushbuffalo, Nancyann
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Bootpathguy
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PostSat Aug 27, 2022 12:22 pm 
You have a great smile

Experience is what'cha get, when you get what'cha don't want
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Luc
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Luc
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PostSat Aug 27, 2022 12:25 pm 
Bootpathguy wrote:
You have a great smile
Thank you. I get it from my mom.

GNGSTR
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christiangustafson
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PostSun Dec 25, 2022 7:04 am 
May take loppers and the Katanaboy 650 saw out to scout trail #495 to The Parks. Part of a larger effort and arc up there, just need to find the darned time.

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Nancyann
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PostWed Dec 28, 2022 10:38 pm 
The Parks burned not long after we left, not sure how anyone could get back up there now. It will be interesting to see what happens with the section of the PNT between the Pasayten Airstrip and Frosty Pass because it looked like that whole section burned as well, and the F.S. never even finished logging it out last summer.

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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Mid-Fork Pasayten >Pasayten Airstrip>PNT(XC Heather Lake/The Parks)>PCT>Slate Pass 8/11-8/17
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