Forum Index > Trip Reports > LaCrosse Basin 10/1 to 10/4 2022
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Mithril
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Mithril
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PostMon Oct 10, 2022 8:24 am 
Day 1 Graves Creek Trailhead Ideal weather made the 13 miles from Graves Creek to Enchantment Valley wonderful. The deep green of moss on old growth forest juxtaposed against fall colors made the miles melt away. Enchanted Valley Enchanted Valley itself was ok, the area is overused and spotted with litter. Heavy vegetation limits mountain views and the primary camp was crowded with loud backpackers playing music mad.gif late into the evening. Fortunately the night was filled with magic; silver constellations, distant elk bugle, and occasional rumble from calving glacier ice. Quickly cooling temperatures lead to heavy and unavoidable condensation. Day 2 Junction Day 2 was a beautiful terror. I woke with the sun, made some surprisingly great instant coffee, and packed up. More old growth greeted us at every turn as we trekked toward the Anderson/OíNeil junction. At the turn we had lunch and let our wet bags, tents, and clothes air out under the striking blue sky. Feeling energized, we hiked the short mile up to White Creek Meadow where we found a stunning field surrounded by amazing views. We considered making camp and at one of the beautiful sites in the meadow but Iím a stickler for permits so we carried on towards Marmot Lake. Itís at this point where we made significant mistake exceeding my skill and personal limit. Ranger Pass Instead of heading out via OíNeil Pass on a well defined and maintained trail we chose to cut 7 miles off the day by going over Ranger Pass (also known as Fisherís Notch). This is a brutal half mile of loose scree at such an aggressive angle that stable purchase is rare and a misstep can be fatal. By the time I realized I shouldnít be there it was too late to turn around - purchase was sketchy continuing up but impossible going down. I deeply regret ascending Ranger Pass but lessons are learned, limits found. Moving on. Use your best judgment but I do not advise anyone to use this shortcut. LaCrosse Basin From the pass we descended into an idyllic basin encircled by stone ridges, filled with red huckleberry bushes, and at its heart a blue jewel; Lake LaCrosse. Itís truly one of the most beautiful places Iíve been in the park and we had it all to ourselves. The lake is pristine and filled with more frogs and salamanders than we could count. I had picked up a nasty laceration across my left shin while crossing Ranger Pass so in an effort to assist clotting we decided to make camp and rest for the evening. Again the night provided all the entertainment we could want; an eerie quiet fell on us, the spiral arm of the Milky Way cut faintly across the sky, shooting stars streaked in all directions, unfortunately Muskís star link constellation marched itís way past but it provided a good chuckle. Day 3 OíNeil Pass Again I woke with the sun, retrieved our bear cans, made coffee, and redressed my leg with a clean bandage. Watching the morning alpenglow warm the ridges above Lake Lacrosse melted all trouble away. Given the dayís mileage we decided to bypass Hart Lake and go straight by Marmot towards OíNeil Pass. In hindsight I wish we had seen Hart, it sounds lovely but we headed up OíNeil and crested the low pass by lunch. We laid out our wet gear to sun dry and rested in the shade as the day began to heat up. The long miles of OíNeil Pass Trail provide views of mountains, meadows, and deep smoke filled valleys. This was the only time on our trip we spotted bear. A mother and cub foraged in a meadow 75 yards below us and paid us no mind. The stretch was dry and we were glad to get back to White Creek Meadow to refill our water supply. Junction & Enchanted Valley Now that we were on the return (known) trail we made good time back to EV. Luckily it was a week night and the loud weekend crowd had gone. Only a few other solo folks remained and one fella politely asked for trail info and advice about the area. In the evening we watched bull elk clash antlers, checked on the small crumbing glacier, and wandered around the historic chalet. My partner went to bed early and I stayed up reading by headlamp until a heavy cold fell on camp. Day 4 Enchanted Valley & Graves Creek Trailhead The final morning was much like the last. The weather was great, gear was damp (if not outright wet), and the coffee was good. We packed up under the rising sun and were on trail by 9:15. Only one tent was left in EV as we headed out. The trail was as beautiful on the return hike and we encountered a large herd of elk as well as a handful of backpackers heading up. Clouds began to roll in as we reached Graves Creek Trailhead. End.
Enchanted Valley (looking North)
Enchanted Valley (looking North)
Enchanted Valley Chalet (looking North)
Enchanted Valley Chalet (looking North)
White Creek Meadow (looking North)
White Creek Meadow (looking North)
Ranger Pass (looking South)
Ranger Pass (looking South)
LaCrosse Basin (looking North from South side of lake)
LaCrosse Basin (looking North from South side of lake)
Lake LaCrosse (looking South towards Duckabush)
Lake LaCrosse (looking South towards Duckabush)

JimK, vibramhead, RodF, Hesman, rubywrangler, reststep, RAW-dad, Tom, mosey, TeeJay, jaysway  meck
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meck
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meck
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PostMon Oct 10, 2022 11:54 am 
Looks like a wonderful trip, thanks for posting the photos (especially Ranger Pass from below).

*Just say NO to Rent-Seeking, don't give up the concept of "ownership"*

Mithril
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RAW-dad
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PostWed Oct 12, 2022 11:00 am 
That's a nice loop, as shown by your pics. Some years ago, I had a similar experience in EV. It seems to attract the party crowd.

Mithril
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Mithril
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Mithril
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PostWed Oct 12, 2022 11:05 am 
Holler with any questions. Iím happy to to provide info (my experience notwithstanding).
Our path (roughly) up Ranger Pass
Our path (roughly) up Ranger Pass

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Tomlike
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PostWed Oct 12, 2022 12:22 pm 
thanks for the report. I went up Ranger Pass last year, and agree that it sucks! (I do a lot of off-trail hiking in the ONP, and am very comfortable in that terrain, but I don't see the need to repeat that kitty-litter crumble-fest anytime soon, or ever)

Mithril
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rubywrangler
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PostWed Oct 12, 2022 12:54 pm 
ditto.gif it is a really convenient shortcut though...

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vibramhead
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PostWed Oct 26, 2022 11:41 am 
I climbed up to Ranger Pass last year from the LaCrosse Basin side, and from the top it looked truly treacherous. Thanks for confirming that I should never attempt that shortcut.

Mithril
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Sculpin
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PostWed Oct 26, 2022 1:26 pm 
vibramhead wrote:
from the top it looked truly treacherous
I'm left wondering if any of the folks who had so much trouble were actually on route, confused.gif especially since my wife and I initially were off route and that was "truly treacherous." But after we went back up to the top and figured out that we had launched in the wrong direction, it was just picking our way down scree and ribs of steep meadow, where a fall would result in scrapes and bruises. I do recall that we did a descending traverse to skiers left on the way down.

Between every two pines is a doorway to the new world. - John Muir

Mithril
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