Forum Index > Trip Reports > Larches at Twisp & Stiletto Lk + Switchblade, Jackknife & Stiletto Pk - Oct 14-16, 22
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vk
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Joined: 28 Jul 2021
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Location: Washington
vk
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PostTue Oct 18, 2022 12:30 pm 
After spending a couple weeks chasing the fall colors in Utah, I got back to Washington just in time to catch the tail end of Larch Madness. I wanted to check out a new area and explored my options, which is when I started seeing reports of Twisp Lake. Most folks seem to reach the lake by approaching from inside the park (starting at Bridge Creek TH) and heading down from ~Point 7385, then leave the lake by taking a high traverse towards Twisp Mountain or Twisp Pass. But this route sounded a bit heinous and I wanted a more relaxing weekend. I was curious if there was another way to get to the lake so I thought I'd try. I also thought it would be fun to enter the park one of the days and camp right outside the boundary at Twisp Pass, and climb Switchblade, Jackknife, and Stiletto peaks. So I mapped out all my options and drove out to the Gilbert TH. On the drive in I got some foggy fall morning vibes around Cle Elum. When I reached Peshastin the smoke was incredibly heavy. Luckily the smoke wasn't too bad in the Methow/at the TH.
Fog
Fog
Smoke
Smoke
Twisp Lake Once I headed up the Twisp Pass trail, I realized none of the options I considered (on map) looked that nice, so I decided to keep hiking upwards and if anything, I'd just abandon my idea of heading to Twisp lake and just camp near the Pass. But I eventually reached a point on the trail that led out to a nice open bench around 5300', which then seemed to lead into a not-very-dense forest. It looked enticing so I gave it a shot. It started off with a quick walk across an open slope, then it was like any other walk through the forest, just without a path, a bit of log hopping, and an easy stream crossing. Then came some brushier sections, but nothing that lasted more than a couple minutes and it wasn't all that unpleasant. Plus, for most of the way through the brushier section, I found that I was on a game trail and there were many "tunnels" going through the trees and brush, which made the going pretty good... Until I heard some loud noises and started seeing fresh scat... I am no expert, but I'm pretty sure I saw bear, deer or goat, grouse, and maybe coyote(?) scat. At this point, I was hitting my poles on every downed tree I saw and yelling "I'm coming through!" After mistaking many trees for a bear, I finally broke out of the woods and made my way across some talus/boulders. I also had my first up-close larch sightings.
Path to Twisp Lake
Path to Twisp Lake
Sample of the tunnel through the brush
Sample of the tunnel through the brush
Another sample of a brushier section
Another sample of a brushier section
Looking out at the basin between Twisp/Crescent
Looking out at the basin between Twisp/Crescent
Soon enough I arrived at Twisp Lake. I found a lot of campsites in the trees near the outlet of the lake and settled in, waiting to see if I'd run into any people or any wildlife, and explored the small larch grove just west of the lake. Other than some chipmunks, pikas, and grouse, I did not see or hear any other forms of life. It seemed like the wildfire smoke was lingering a bit in the basin but with some forecasted winds I was hoping it would clear up by morning.
First view of the lake
First view of the lake
View from the north side of the lake
View from the north side of the lake
View from the south side
View from the south side
Apparently I was pretty tired, because the next morning I ended up sleeping/dozing until 9:30am and was greeted by blue skies. I decided to not move camp and climb Switchblade etc. that day; instead I had a slow morning watching the sun light up the larches around the lake. I sauntered up towards the moraine just southeast of Point 7385 to check out the larches up there. Even though it was the tail end of larch season, there were still plenty of golden needles and it was nice walking around the larches with a cup of coffee, watching the sun slowly light them up. I also hiked a little ways up the small bump just SE of the lake to get a better view of the surrounding peaks and of the basin.
Moon!
Moon!
Cute baby larches
Cute baby larches
I love the way the light hits the larches in the morning
I love the way the light hits the larches in the morning
More cute baby larches
More cute baby larches
I liked the contrast of the golden larches against the dark talus slopes
I liked the contrast of the golden larches against the dark talus slopes
Reflections on Twisp Lake
Reflections on Twisp Lake
After taking a ton of photos I headed back down to camp to pack up and head toward Twisp Pass. I considered traversing at a higher elevation to get to the Twisp Pass trail, but I figured I may as well go out the same way I got in since I knew what to expect and it might actually save some mental energy and time. My plan was to hike up the established trail, camp near the pass and get water at 6140. I found a few campsite: one in the trees a little before the pass (before the national park boundary sign), one shortly after the sign, and another potential spot on a flat slab. When I arrived at the pass I found out my water source was now a murky pond and its outflow had completely dried out. The next water source appeared to be Stiletto Lake, so off I went!
Crescent + larch
Crescent + larch
Much less hazy than the day before
Much less hazy than the day before
Dagger Lake
Dagger Lake
Stiletto Lake On the map I saw a potential spot to camp near the lake right outside the park boundary and was hoping it would be a good one, and it sure was! In fact, it was so perfect - a nice flat dirt patch to sleep on, comfy rocks to sit on, larches all around with an open view towards the meadow below, and a good vantage point for looking deeper at the other peaks inside the park. I got there just in time to have dinner and a [sunset] show. It was pretty windy that evening/night which led to great conditions for seeing the Milky Way and stars, and eventually the moon rose and lit up the sky. I played around with my iPhone's camera before going to bed.
Jackknife/Switchblade
Jackknife/Switchblade
Near my campsite
Near my campsite
Looking towards Twisp River
Looking towards Twisp River
Sunset silhouette
Sunset silhouette
Milky Way
Milky Way
Moon rise
Moon rise
Switchblade - Jackknife - Stiletto Peaks I decided that since I had such an awesome campsite, I had to get up in time to watch the sunrise the next morning. I was very glad I did! The other two parties camping at the lake were also up and enjoying the sunrise. I thought about how nice it was to just relax, soak up the sun, and have a slow morning, and considered lounging around camp for a couple hours and then heading directly back to my car. But I figured since I drove 4.5 hours out there I may as well check out more of the area by heading up the peaks. This ended up being the right decision smile.gif
Camp!
Camp!
Same view as the Sunset Silhouette photo above
Same view as the Sunset Silhouette photo above
Alpenglow on Jackknife
Alpenglow on Jackknife
First up: Switchblade. I intended to follow John Morrow's beta at first, but as I started heading up, I decided I'd actually follow Matt's. I don't think I headed right soon enough, because I ended up getting up to a pretty nasty spot (loose rocks, super steep, blank wall of rock) that I didn't like given that I was solo. I downclimbed slowly and headed left to find a better way to reach the summit. Eventually I reached a gully that brought me up mostly class 3, some 4, and mostly solid rock to the summit. The smoke had pretty much cleared and the views were excellent! On the way down, I found the gully that John had gone up and headed down it, and it seemed like a much more straightforward, pleasant route up. I think Matt's route would've been pleasant as well, if I hadn't gone off route (duh).
I camped on top of the little bump in the left of the frame
I camped on top of the little bump in the left of the frame
Another view of camp
Another view of camp
The Bo's: Bowan & Bonanza
The Bo's: Bowan & Bonanza
Layers
Layers
Towards Jackknife
Towards Jackknife
Tower and Golden Horn
Tower and Golden Horn
Kangaroo ridge
Kangaroo ridge
Next up: Jackknife. I kept eyeing the ridge connecting Switchblade and Jackknife, wondering if and how it would go. I didn't find any reports online of people taking the ridge, but in person it looked mostly doable other than a couple questionable spots. I decided to check it out and along the way, I saw signs of a goat and also a person, but soon the shoe prints disappeared whereas the goat tracks continued; not sure if the person had turned around or just didn't leave prints. The ridge definitely goes and was airy, but no more airy than most ridge traverses and the ridge proper was mostly solid. I'd say it was class 3-4 overall, with one, maybe two, 5th class spots. Overall, I had fun on it and was glad I tried it out, and the views from the summit were also excellent! Along the ridge I also found a sweet spot that could be a great place to bivy. Notes on what I thought were the two 5th class spots. The first one was kind of sketchy. It's hard to describe, but it required either climbing up onto the ridge proper on a tall, airy, narrow and slanted block, or going around the block to climber's left and climbing on the face of the ridge. I chose the latter, which required some shimmying around a dead tree, grabbing onto licheny rock, and trying to find places for my feet that were not going to break off. The second spot was at a notch to get to the final summit block. It wasn't sketchy because the rock was mostly solid and everything you needed for feet and hands were there, but it was far more exposed than the rest of the ridge and required a bit of shimmying on the rock to get down into the notch. Once out of the notch on the summit block, things were class 3 and solid once again.
Ridge to Jackknife
Ridge to Jackknife
If I remember correctly, the sketchy spot was in the center of the photo, around the spot with the green tree & dead tree
If I remember correctly, the sketchy spot was in the center of the photo, around the spot with the green tree & dead tree
Looking back at the ridge & Switchblade
Looking back at the ridge & Switchblade
Potential bivy
Potential bivy
My red tent near the center of the frame
My red tent near the center of the frame
Towards GP
Towards GP
Distinct knife edge of Eldo
Distinct knife edge of Eldo
I think this was the Suiattle fire
I think this was the Suiattle fire
Last stop: Stiletto. I headed down the west ridge towards Stiletto, which was straightforward and quick. The real treat for heading that direction was the descent into the meadow below Stiletto. Larches galore! So much red, green, and gold. I slowly worked my way down through the meadow, stopping way too often to take photos and videos, and tried my best to rock hop through it to reduce my impact on the area. The creek bed was dried up so I mostly followed that most of the way down until it got wet and swampy, then hopped my way through dirt patches until I reached the climbers trail that led back to the lake.
Ridge leading up to Stiletto
Ridge leading up to Stiletto
Below Stiletto Peak
Below Stiletto Peak
Half and half!
Half and half!
Obsessed with these baby larches
Obsessed with these baby larches
Climbers trail heading back to Stiletto Lake, Switchblade behind
Climbers trail heading back to Stiletto Lake, Switchblade behind
Stiletto Lake & Switchblade
Stiletto Lake & Switchblade
While I was up on the peaks I saw and heard a few parties arriving at the lake, but by the time I returned everyone had left. When I returned to camp I quickly packed up all my stuff, snapped more photos of the views and headed back to the TH, feeling incredibly happy with how the whole trip turned out. It was a good mix of solitude, relaxation, fun, and adventure.
So many larches along Stiletto Lake Trail
So many larches along Stiletto Lake Trail
Last bit of larch views
Last bit of larch views
Cool sun rays
Cool sun rays

DWB27, Eric Gilbertson, Anne Elk, Bootpathguy, SpookyKite89, ozzy, Brushbuffalo, ALW Hiker, zimmertr, jaysway, Comma, Bowregard, brewermd, Tom, Bramble_Scramble, fourteen410  awilsondc
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awilsondc
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awilsondc
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PostWed Oct 19, 2022 6:42 am 
Cool trip and great photos! I thought about heading out that way, but it didn't end up happening... thanks for showing me what it would have looked like! smile.gif up.gif up.gif

vk
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vk
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Joined: 28 Jul 2021
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Location: Washington
vk
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PostFri Oct 21, 2022 8:47 am 
awilsondc wrote:
Cool trip and great photos! I thought about heading out that way, but it didn't end up happening... thanks for showing me what it would have looked like! smile.gif up.gif up.gif
Glad you enjoyed the pics. Bummer you couldn't make it out there, hopefully next year you can!

awilsondc
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Larches at Twisp & Stiletto Lk + Switchblade, Jackknife & Stiletto Pk - Oct 14-16, 22
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