Cascade's Alpine Lakes in September
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Gerry Brucia
(taedawood) - MLife

Locale: Louisiana, USA
Cascade's Alpine Lakes in September on 07/15/2012 07:47:49 MDT Print View

Two of my childhood hiking friends (who I haven't seen in over 30 years) and I have recently re-connected through Facebook. We are planning a 4-5 day reunion hike in September in the Alpine Lakes region of the Cascades. We plan to walk approximately ten miles per day.

Any advice/information regarding recommended routes would be greatly appreciated. I am also wondering whether I should bring my hammock and tarp or a tent. We plan to camp below treeline.

What kind of weather should we plan for?

All three of us are experienced hikers. Justin lives in Shanghai, I live in Louisiana, and Joe lives in the Seattle area. I am sure Joe has things pretty well "dialed-in" about hiking in this region but I would welcome members' feedback as well.

Thanks,
Gerry

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Alpine Lakes on 07/15/2012 13:44:15 MDT Print View

Sounds like a fun trip! As for the weather, September is generally a pretty nice month here in Washington, although as always rain is a possibility. The earlier in September you go, generally the better the weather. But that much stated, there aren't really any mosquitoes come September, and the days are still warm, and evenings crisp and cool.

The Alpine Lakes region definitely stretches a good distance. Are you restricted as to where you go? The reason I ask is that the weather/climate changes dramatically depending upon the section of trail. The great thing about this wilderness is that there are a large number of routes that you can mix-and-match to build any experience you would like. Do you want a loop hike? A one-way hike?

The western edge of the Alpine Lakes wilderness is heavily trafficked as it is a short distance from Seattle and the Puget Sound. As you head east, there are generally fewer people on the trail, which may or may not be important to you.

The questions I would have is how much elevation gain do you want? You said 10 miles a day, a definitely easy-to-plan distance. You want to stay below the treeline. That is also very possible.

If you don't mind a few people (and horses), I honestly like the hike out to Cathederal Lake and Deception Pass. It would be very easy to incorporate Tuck and Robin Lakes into this hike. Although this isn't a super long hike, there are many other trails you could incorporate into the hike to make it a 50-miler.

Another possibility is the much drier Teanaway Region. That area is on the eastern edge of the Alpine Lakes region. The trail system out here is extensive.

What kind of hike would you like from an elevation gain/loss perspective?

Dirk

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Cascade's Alpine Lakes in September on 07/15/2012 14:41:00 MDT Print View

Gerry, check out the trail reports http://www.nwhikers.net and definitely ask the same questions in the forums there. You will find tons of friendly, local info.

Take rain gear, have fun :)

Edited by dwambaugh on 07/17/2012 10:33:23 MDT.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Cascade's Alpine Lakes in September on 07/15/2012 18:44:03 MDT Print View

I did a 2-night a few years around/near Grindstone Mountain, starting near Chatter Creek Campground on Icicle Road:

Trail 1580 up Chatter Creek to Lake Edna (el 6735', would be a cool place to camp), around Cape Horn and down to Lake Flora (where we spent the 1st night). Second day was down Trail 1571 to 1575 and up Painter's Creek to a high valley where I learned a lot about how cold moist air flow downs into valleys at night. Out the next day in a "lollipop" shaped loop. I used Green Trails Maps # 177, which your Seattle friend can pick up at REI.

This was before I had lighter gear and it is a lot of ups and downs; a person could definitely go farther in the same amount of time. You could easily this extend this by going to Chiwaukum Lake and especially Larch Lake, one of the supposed prime places to view the larches turning golden in September and October. You could also connect to other trails and arrange a pick-up at Stephens Pass on Hwy 2.

Gerry Brucia
(taedawood) - MLife

Locale: Louisiana, USA
Cascade's Alpine Lakes in September...or Goat Rocks Wilderness on 07/16/2012 05:32:18 MDT Print View

Dirk,
We are planning to go September 12-17. We are really open to where we go. In fact, there has been a suggestion by a friend of Joe's to also consider the Goat Rocks Wilderness. As far as elevation is concerned, we do want to do some elevated hiking, not opposed to doing some hiking above treeline. We just want to camp below treeline at night. We are training to do some strenuous hiking BUT we are not wanting to bust our butts either!

Dale, Thanks for the link. I will definitely start researching on that website.

Steven, Thanks for the info. I have a Trails Illustrated Map on order. As soon as I get it, I will have to check out your route. I have never heard of the Green Maps. Are they the preferred maps in your region?

Since Goat Rocks Wilderness has also now been mentioned as a possibility in addition to Alpine Lakes, any advice/opinions of one over the other???
Gerry

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Cascade's Alpine Lakes in September on 07/16/2012 23:26:07 MDT Print View

Gerry -

The Goat Rocks is an excellent backpacking trip. You can hike it a number of ways, I think you would enjoy hiking from the Mt. Adams side along the Pacific Crest Trail and traveling the 41 mile one-way trip to White Pass (car shuttle required). It is quite spectacular if the weather is good. If the weather is bad, you will be denied some fantastic views and also be hiking through rather exposed terrain for past of the trip. Making this all the more challenging is the fact that the trail is narrow on a knife-like ridge during some of its most majestic sections.

You will have enjoy excellent views of Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier, as well as many beautiful miles of walking. If you get done early, it's not a huge issue - the southeast entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park isn't far away. You could drive through the park on your way back to Seattle.

May I also suggest the Spider Gap-Lyman Lakes-Cloudy Pass--Image Lake - Buck Creek Pass route described here. It takes you through the Glacier Peak wilderness just to the northeast of Seattle. Terrific. You can even double back once you get to Image Lake and rather than hike back via Buck Creek pass, proceed down the Pacific Crest Trail toward Steheiken, only accessible via boat or foot. This would be more involved logistically, but at the end, you have a rather religious experience at the Stehekin bakery on Lake Chelan and could could travel via Ferry to the town of Chelan. I can provide more information on this, it has some logistics, but is also very rewarding.

I would really suggest a backup plan in the event the weather turns. If the weather isgood, the west side of the Cascades would cover any number of trips, including those in the Alpine Lakes, the Glacier Peak and the Goat Rocks. But if the weather is bad, escaping to the east side of the range really can help make your trip much drier.

On that note, the most accessible from Seattle is the Teanaway Region. There are a number of great loops out here with lake-side camping. We hike out here often, especially in summer and fall. September is one of my favorite times with the change in colors.

If you want more information, just PM me. I will be glad to help you out. But as Dale pointed out nwhikers.net is a fantastic resource as well - the people there have hiked just about every trail imaginable and can make really informed recommendations.

Dirk

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Cascade's Alpine Lakes in September on 07/17/2012 07:33:24 MDT Print View

I've not been to Alpine Lakes so much except the Enchantment Lakes but they have limited permits and maybe not enough for 4 nights.

In the Goat Rocks, I wouldn't start from White Pass because the first 10 miles or so isn't as scenic.

I would start at Berry Patch or Snowgrass Flat trailhead, hike up to Goat Lake. Maybe over to Lily Basin. Then over towards Snowgrass Flat and then cut up to PCT and hike by Old Snowy. Maybe go back on the PCT the other direction to Cispus Flat. Back to Snowgrass Flat trailhead.

I always consider September best because bugs are gone and the snow has melted. It occasionally rains. I remember a recent case with 4 days of heavy rain and someone was washed into a stream and died.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Cascade's Alpine Lakes in September on 07/17/2012 13:02:08 MDT Print View

There is a book by the Mountaineers named "Best Loop Hikes Washington" that might give you some ideas.

Gerry Brucia
(taedawood) - MLife

Locale: Louisiana, USA
Cascade's Alpine Lakes or Goat Rocks in September on 07/17/2012 18:59:10 MDT Print View

Dirk,
Thank you for the suggestions on the Goat Rocks route. I will forward your posting to Joe in Seattle for his input.

Jerry,
Thank you as well for your input. I am hoping to get my Falcon Guide and Trails Illustrated Maps in the mail tomorrow and will review both your and Dirk's suggested routes.

Both of you guys have given me some really good information.

Dale,
Thanks for the tip on the Mountaineers book. I will definitely order a copy.

You folks in the northwest are so lucky (and blessed) to have such beautiful areas in which to hike. The more I read and research, the more I am thinking that until I can do a thru-hike, I need to plan on an annual hiking trip in the northwest!