Glacier Peak WildernessGlacier Peak Wilderness holds the Northern Cascades only wilderness volcano. And in this year when we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, it was a perfect time to go into the remote wilderness area and explore. No we didn't climb it, but we did spend 5 days at the end of July backpacking through the majestic beauty that surrounds it.
With the late snow that came in this year and the heat that came with the end of July, we were in for a treat.
Day 1 - Trinity TrailheadWe started the day in Spokane, WA and drove to the Trinity Trailhead. After parking the car here, we had a 3 mile hike up to the Spider Meadow trailhead. I was thankful once those three miles were over and we were able to head into the woods and shade. The goal was to hike to Spider Meadow, but after another couple of miles, the heat and lack of sleep took its toll on us. We found a camp spot in the woods and decided to call it a day. As we finished dinner and settled in - we had our first of many experiences with the wildlife in the wilderness. A female mule deer wandered into camp. She must have enjoyed our presence as she kept coming back.
Day 2 - Spider Meadow, Spider Gap & Upper Lyman Lakes
|Spider Meadow looking toward Spider Gap|
Waking up to a beautiful morning in the wilderness refreshed, we packed our gear and headed to Spider Meadow and Spider Gap. Spider Meadow still held some of its beauty of wildflowers and gave us an amazing view toward Spider Gap and the peaks around it. We also got our first view of the many marmots we would encounter in the wilderness and more mule deer grazing in the meadow.
After hiking through the meadow we climbed the trail up to Spider Gap and finally got a view of the Spider Glacier. All reports for this trip stated to bring an ice ax with you to climb over the glacier. But with the heat we had on this trip, the conditions of the glacier made it so that you didn't need it. It was an amazing 1/2 mile hike up the glacier to the top and the high point of this trip (7100 ft). The coolness of the snow and ice of the glacier made it so the heat that was bearing down on us didn't feel so bad.
Tip: Take time once you get to the top for a break and the opportunities to take some great photos of the glacier and the Upper Lyman Lakes area.
|Spider Glacier with a view back out toward Spider Meadow|
|Upper Lyman Lakes from Spider Gap|
|Lyman Glacier from Upper Lyman Lake|
|View back toward Upper Lyman Lakes, bogs and Spider Gap|
|Camp in the Upper Lyman Lakes area.|
|Sun setting above Spider Gap|
Day 3 - Upper Lyman Lakes to Miners Creek / Image LakeWaking up to another glorious morning in the wilderness (even with the mosquitoes buzzing around), we ate breakfast and headed out to our next destination: Miners Creek to camp and a side day trip to Image Lake. Our first obstacle of the day (besides the mosquitoes) came as we got down toward Lyman Lake and had to cross the river via a downed tree. Now crossing a river over a downed tree is not that bad, but this one happened to be right over a rapid and falls. If you slipped on the log it was a not a short fall or would it be a soft landing - you would probably get hurt.
|Lyman Falls crossing|
|Cloudy Pass looking back at Lyman Lake and Spider Gap|
|Cloudy Pass wildflowers - Lupine, Heather and Paintbrush|
|Miners Cabin @ Miners Creek - Image Lake Trail|
|Paintbrush and wildflowers in the meadows on the trail to Image Lake|
|Image Lake with Glacier Peak in the background.|
|Marmots all over the place, this one was hiding out along the trail.|
|Falls and crossing area at about noon.|
|Falls and crossing area at 5 pm|
|Water crossing area at 5 pm. At noon we had rocks to cross, not at 5 pm.|
Day 4 - Miners Creek to Buck Creek Pass
Today we had more friendly visitors to camp while we were eating breakfast. We had seen him the evening before but today he came back with his lady friend.
It also felt like the hottest day so far on our trip. We headed down from Miners Creek and out toward Buck Creek Pass. As we headed up to the first pass and took a break, we found a side trail that we explored before heading on the rest of the way to Buck Creek Pass. The side trip was well worth it. It took us to another meadow full of wildflowers.
|Side trip to another meadow of wildflowers and great views of the mountains around us.|
After heading back to the trail, we continued on toward Buck Creek Pass and where we would spend the night. We stayed up on top of the pass where we could have nice views of Glacier Peak and the surrounding area. And of course more wildlife.What a great way to end the day and for our last night in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. It was hard to believe the next day we'd wake up, pack up and head out.
|Mule deer shaking off the bugs.|
Day 5: Buck Creek Pass to Trinity Trailhead
Day 5, it came so fast. After waking up early to watch the sun rise on Glacier Peak it was time to pack up and head out of this beautiful wilderness area.
|Sunrise on Glacier Peak from Buck Creek Pass|
|Glacier Peak Wilderness - Buck Creek trail and route out|
|Glacier Peak Wilderness - Avalanche area along Buck Creek|
Good thing is after this trip, I headed over to Mt Baker and did another backpacking trip. It was a relief to know I could head right back into the wilderness.
Dates: July 26 - 30, 2014
Elevation gain: 11,082 ft
Elevation loss: 10,999 ft
Distance: ~48 miles
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn." John Muir
More information on Glacier Peak Wilderness.