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Home Go Hiking Trip Reports Chiwaukum Creek, North Fork Chiwaukum River, Chatter Creek, Icicle Ridge, Lake Julius and Loch Eileen, Lake Ethel

Trip Report By

WTA Member

 

 

100 

Hiked Jul 11, 2016

Type of Hike

Day hike

Trail Conditions

Obstacles on trail:
    Trees down across trail,
    Difficult stream crossing(s),
    Overgrown in places.

Road

Road suitable for all vehicles

Bugs

Bugs were an annoyance

Snow

Snowfields to cross - could be difficult
I traveled on foot from the Chatter Creek trailhead (TH) to the Lake Ethel TH , and used my bike as a shuttle between the two. The Chatter Creek trail is in great shape from the trailhead all the way up until you first cross Icicle Ridge at 6600 ft (approx 4 miles from the trailhead). A steep climb, but there are some nice views to distract you along the way. Once you drop down the north side of Icicle Ridge, there are still several significant patches of snow covering the trail. I used microspikes, but the snow was soft enough that I’m not sure the spikes actually made a difference – I just would’ve felt really stupid if I’d slipped on the slope with spikes in my pack instead of on my feet. I was glad for my trekking poles. Didn’t bring an ice ax, and didn’t miss it. From Ladies Pass, I picked up the Chiwaukum Creek trail. This trail also had some snow lingering above 6000 ft, but it was all relatively low angle and easy to navigate. In general conditions were mixed along Chiwaukum Creek. The trail faded away occasionally in the meadows directly below Lake Brigham, and then became very brushy before intersecting with the Index Creek trail. After Timothy Meadow there is an amazing section of clear runnable trail, all the way down to the intersection with the North Fork Chiwaukum trail. North Forth Chiwaukum… this was not my favorite trail. The first section travels through a sooty burn with occasional blow-downs, before becoming brushy and mosquito-ridden with more blowdowns. The actual North Fork of Chiwaukum Creek was running high and fast. I noticed a cairn on the opposite bank, but crossing at the cairn would’ve required fording the creek just upstream of a waterfall. Maybe at lower water that’s the best place to cross, but it did not look good to me. I spent a good 40 minutes wandering up and down the streambank before finally crossing on a slick wobbly log below the falls. After crossing the North Fork Chiwaukum, the trail begins a steep brushy climb. I can’t imagine this section of trail has been maintained or even seen much travel in recent years. Unsurprisingly, this where I hit a rough patch. I was mentally exhausted from trying to find a way across the river, the whole trip was taking much longer than I anticipated, it was getting dark, and I was tired of fighting slide alder. Waaaah. On the plus side, as soon as Chiwaukum Lake came into view, it was as though someone had waved a magic wand and instantly made the trail perfect. Thank you to whomever did all that work! McCue Ridge trail was completely clear of brush and blow-downs, and a lovely gentle grade. Conditions stayed near-perfect all the way through the Scottish Lakes area, including the trail to Lake Julius as well as the Roaring Creek trail to Lake Ethel. (Hiking season starts at High Camp on July 25 – get some! And no I’m not affiliated with them. I just love the place:) ) From Lake Ethel down to the trailhead was also in great shape, but man it went on forever. More details and pics here: https://evergreenendurance.com/2016/07/13/chiwaukum-traverse/

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