“Mr H meets Mukmuk… at Chicken Leg Lake (or so they thought they heard”
Burnt Boot Peak (6520', p1000')
Iapia Peak (6960', p280')
Chikamin Peak (7000', p1080')
Via Mineral Creek and Park Lakes
Sept 14-16, 2012
Franklin Bradshaw, Carla Schauble, Pam MacRae, Gabriel Deal, Lindsey Malone, Carrie & Mike Helminger
Weather: Morning partial clouds to clearing, very hot and very smoky from wild fires
Day 1, Up the creek
Three separate groups would go in for this trip. We all couldn’t get Friday off. Carla, Gabriel and Lindsey went in Friday morning. Pam and I went in in the afternoon and Saturday Mike and Carrie came in. The day got hotter as we headed east on I-90. Through Roslyn and north to Salmon la Sac. A left turn west on the road to Cooney Lake. Past the turnoff to the lake, over the pass and to the end of the dusty gravel road at the trailhead for Mineral Creek. The day was hot and dusty. More like July than the middle of September. The trail crosses a creek with some small logs that will be gone the next high water. The TH sign said 6 mile –a bit more than it is to Park Lake. In 0.6m a T with a turn to the right. The trail was like an ancient road. Then narrowed to a trail of rocks moving slowly up. After a muddy dip many old wood water main pipes ~12” diameter with metal spiral banding.
Old water main pipes from the mines Fall colors even down low
The trail has been very recently brushed. Another creek crossing rock hopping to the north side of the creek and soon passed a sign into the Alpine Wilderness. Soon the trail was like a tunnel in vine maples. Easy walking and nice having the shade. Back into large trees the sun was behind the Highbox ridge.
The trail became a narrow ditch in places The white creek
Another big dip in the trail to a creek with the dry rock bed white from minerals. The trail kept it’s westward traverse and soon started heading north in steepening switchbacks. Each one hotter than the previous. Luckily, the terrain leveled and trees opened to a carpet of short huckleberries. The berries were very small and not a great taste.
We took a break to grab a bite at Park lake. Great views of The Four Brothers to the west and the Three Queens to the east. We had plenty of ground to cover so kept going hoping to make it to Chikamin Lake. Well, honestly I was hoping the first group had stopped earlier than that since we may not have time to make it before dark. Quickly intersected the PCT and a left turn west. This is the first time I’ve seen the large PCT trail signs.
Largest PTC sign I’ve ever seen Four Brothers from the PCT (looking west)
Up the dusty trail a few switchbacks and we met “House” and “Burrows” through hiking. They had just endured a lot of rock traversing under the brothers and were looking forward to smooth trails ahead. Due east of the Brothers at a switchback we followed the well-worn and obvious trail north to the saddle looking down to Glacier lake.
Lemah Peaks Three Queens
Tarn above Glacier Lake Glacier Lake
Great views, even with smoke in the sky. There was plenty coming from the Blewett and Enchantment areas. The “path” drops steeply to flatter area then a trail heads to Glacier lake first along it’s SE then counterclockwise the north side. The Glacier Lake basin is a beautiful place to camp, but not for us tonight. At the NW end it was time for some large boulder crawling direct toward a giant freestanding monolith.
The Pinnacle above Glacier Lake Glacier Lake
Beside the monolith I passed through a cave to open to a lovely little green pocket of paradise. Granite, heather and a deep small pond seemingly carved from a single part of the granite. The area was shaded and the pictures didn’t come out well to show how nice this spot was. The rock here was gray and a lot of purple. Again the trail followed a creek. Then a T, to the left up a gulley to Chikamin. To the right we went around the north side of a cliffy area to follow gravel and heather ramps. They switched back to the east side and topped out 6-700 feet up. Dang this area is beautiful.
Heading west the trail was mostly easy to follow, then gone, then found again. As we passed a few granite and heather surrounded tarns and over a snowfield the skies darkened. Headlamps out we topped a ridge looking down on Chikamin to the west. Now where
I gave out a yodel and quickly heard responses. Down, around and up another bump. “Hey, flash a light…”. Blam! Two headlamps lit up due north. Some brush and we made it to Camp Lake Chicken Leg in a dried shallow tarn. Carla, Lindsey and Gabriel had come in a few hours ahead of us and already finished dinner. Our turn to eat and share stories. After eating we went east over and bump to a great viewpoint to see the wildfires out east. An orange glow with an occasional bright flare up. The skies were clear and sleeping sans tent the Milky Way was stunning to watch above.
Morning light on Chikamin Peak and Lake
I can smell Burnt…
I wasn’t sure how early we needed to get up for the day trip to Burnt Boot. It wasn’t daylight yet as people awoke. Breakfast done the hatch, we were off with daypacks along the firm steep surface of Chikamin Lake (6:35a). Then scree then talus. The day would be a mixture of that. The sun rose as we skirted the north of Chikamin lake.
Upper Chikamin peak
West through the pass and a traversing right north. More talus and scree staying pretty even in elevation, a couple snow crossing (used crampons on one) to a saddle. To our right the impressive cliffs of Iapia (aka Lemah one). To our left smoke haze views to Huckleberry, Thompson and the Snoqualmie group of peaks.
Gabriel checking out the ice worms Burnt Boot Peak
Ahead a downward slope of snow almost all the way to Iceberg Lake and to the leftish the seemingly long ways off “Burnt Boot Peak.” Dang it looked a long ways away. The final bit was on boulder, talus and scree. Sunlight lit the tops of the peaks, but at the lake it was still summer morning cool. A CW traverse on heather to the west facing outlet with a c600’ waterfall (8:30a).
There was a little bit of snow on the east side of the lake, though the stream outlet was only about 6” deep. Nice place for a break or a camp.
Iceberg Lake waterfall Thomson Peak east ridge
After a bit we left north up the slope and down into a boulder basin with a little snow patch holding on.
Up the rock stream to the boulder basin Looking back at the Iceberg Basin and Lemah peaks
A traverse westward and as soon as we made it to a gulley we headed up boulder hopping into a hidden basin plumb full of large boulders –and a small stream amongst them. Right side of the basin a nice nearly vertical cliff that looked like some fun climbing.
Upper boulder basin
Lindsey leading the way on the ridge east of the peak Gabriel heading up the SE face
We hung on the left (west) side boulder hopping and ledge zigging up to the west-east running ridge. The ridge was easy going heading west. The face ahead looked daunting in steep heather. Not much traction in that stuff. Below 6000’ we started an upward traverse to a rock/tree notch in the southeast ridgeline. Now easy scrambling up to the summit on heather and rocks (11:15a).
Summit shot with west point in the background A very wet Fay register
Summit shot sans one
This was a nice viewpoint. Different than the previous week on neighboring Summit Chief. A view direct into the end of the Middle Fork Valley. Big Snow north, east Overcoat, SW Thompson… We waved at Brett on Thompson, but didn’t see anyone on the summit. Mr H and Mukmuk joined us on the summit.
What… hey, he’s trying to push the munchies away. Silly sock monkey, it’s a sock monkey safe lid
Found an old water bottle Look in here, there’s a Fay register!
Mr H and Mukmuk on the summit Everyone signed in
We weren’t watching much, more distracted by the views, but it was apparent they were having a bit of a party. Mr H pushing munchies out of sight and trying to open the container. We did find that the Tupperware is sock monkey safe. Both climbed up on the summit cairn playing king of the mound. Every time we turn to look, they froze with one of those looks on their face like we caught them doing something.
East Point from the west point
I wandered west on the long ridge to check out the west summit (joined by Gabriel and Lindsey). The west summit measured about 6”-1’ higher, but it was not as aesthetic and no register.
Carla on the east peak Lindsey and Gabriel on the west peak
We returned to the east summit. I’d spread out the pages of the register Fay had left in hopes the pages would dry. Even with the hot dry summer, most the registers I’ve been finding are soaking wet. Not many people sign-in to this peak. Fay left the register Sept 4, 2003. A solo hiker Sept 12, 2008 and then again Yana and the Schmidt’s Sept 8, 2011. So in nine years we were the fourth group. Interesting to note that all the summits were in September (4, 12, 8, 14). Besides the register a well weather worn water bottle and cover were found and brought out . As we sat we watched a new thick plume of smoke rise from what looked like NE of Rainier. It appeared Central Washington was a blaze south to north.
Wildfire starting in the Yakima Complex Mt Rainier (Huckleberry in the foreground
Iceberg Lake, Overcoat and Chimney Rock Lemahs on left Chikamin on right
A little over an hour and the summit register dry we finished our lunch packed up and started back (12:25p).
East summit pano
I don’t think we were in a hurry for the long talus/scree return trek. We basically followed our up route.
Summit Chiefs Overcoat and Chimney Rock
The east lower ridge Water in the boulder basin
Down the ridge, then the heather rock and ledges to the boulder basin. A good place to relax a moment and get water at the creek.
Moss amongst the granite boulders Lindsey checks out a sparkly black rock
The snow was a respite from the boulder scrambling Back at Iceberg Lake
Heading south up from Iceberg Lake
It was a warm day, but not too bright due to haze from the wildfires. Another nice spot to relax in the lower rock basin and check out some of the cool rocks. Carla’s favorite seemed to be one with a solid black flat surface that sparkled. Heading up the heather slop from Iceberg Lake outlet seeing the group walking reminded me of the Abby Road Beatles album cover.
Reminded me of Abby Road album cover
Had me singing a Beatle’s inspired tune. We went direct up from the stream finding a nice bypass avoiding all the boulders below the snow. The snow was soft enough to carefully walk up to the saddle west of Iapia.
Snowfiled with ice worms south of Iceberg Lake Route up Burnt Boot from the SE
Again, another great spot to relax a little. I ran around the back of and to the top of the bump on the west. A surprisingly beautiful little hidden basin area (still had some snow too). Now to catch up with the group. The Talus/scree side-hilling was a full attention grabber.
“Chicken Leg Lake” Iapia (Lemah One)
Time to knock off a spare
At the saddle back to Chikamin Lake Carla and Pam returned to camp, while I huffed and puffed to catch up with Lindsey and Gabriel on their way up Iapia. From the saddle it was basically up scree/talus. No real route finding. The summit block obvious with a veer to the left (5:25p). The final 20’ was the grabber as usual.
Iapia summit route Not sure what’s up. Just kidding, funny shot of Lindsey smiling as she pulls past the cl4 move
The SE looked do-able, but not fun. I went far left CW til I was looking out at a full vertigo view. The cliff vertically dropped thousands of feet and a long gap to the steep south walls and spire east towers of Lemah Two. Back at the SSW end of the summit block Gabriel went up a wide chimney that had good grips. On cl3-4 move and careful to not rain rocks down deposited us within a few feet of the top (5:30 summit). Stunning views of Lemah Two and Chikamin. Well, of course everything around including the smoke plumes of the wildfires to the east.
Iapia summit pano
Summit portraits Lindsey and Mr H
Smoke from wildfires east (Mt Stuart in background) Thick smoke haze
Looking NE I recognized the basin and route we used from Spectacle Lake to Lemah a few years ago (Carla, MattB and EricJ). No register found, so I left a new tube and register. The days are getting shorter, so after a half hour (6:00p) we headed down. Just the usual cascade downhill scree. Below a lower cliff band we veered eastward on a lowering traverse direct toward camp. Hey, look, there’s an extra tent…
Yeap, today Carrie and Mike had come in to join us and done Chikamin while we did Burnt Boot. Fun having a good group together. We chatted at dusk turned to dark.
Light changing on the Three Queens
Last of the fading sun over Chikamin Lake A full camp
Little did we know the mischief Mr H and MukMuk were causing. MukMuk and Mr H pushing and trying their hardest to get into the whiskey bottle. Good thing the lid was on tight. Later in the dark a flick of the headlamp showed diving and playing in the food and candy. The boys were having their own little party.
Heard a stirring below the snacks and food
We thought all was quiet again til picking up the Theos Chocolate bar to find Mr H headfirst and the bar half devoured. At least everyone was having a good time.
Seemed innocent enough that Mr H joined Keep a close eye on the sock monkey!
Seemingly late since dark we headed to sleep around 9. Funny how it is easy to head to sleep early when in the mountains on these shortening days. Bundled up and warm I watched for shooting stars as the Milky Way began to fill the sky…
Mike and Carrie with Chikamin backdrop
Doing the Chicken Leg
Next day… A nice summer feeling morning. No rush, but some miles and vertical to put in today.
Morning on Chikamin Lake
Chikamin tarns Relaxing waiting to get going
Rocks, heather and streams. Definitely a place to re-visit Saying good byes
We packed up camp and took some time getting out saying our good byes to Carrie and Mike (8am). Carla and Gabriel headed out to the pass south of Glacier Lake to do The Four Brothers. Lindsey, Pam and I headed up to do Chikamin then meet them at the pass. Rather than drop down most the way to Glacier Lake we went from one of Chikamin’s lower lakes heading direct up the solid rock and heather ridge.
Four Brothers and smoke Chikamin Lake and Iapia
All seemed to be going great, even a few cairns and an old rusted tuna can. Then we hit an hourglass impasse with a drop to the other side (8:30). Cliffs right and left. The map showed a break in it on the other side of the hourglass. We looked around but no apparent route through. Then I looked again, pulling apart tree branches to see and rock and big branch to get down through the impasse. On up we went, up and left to look over the cliff for that break the map showed.
The Lemahs Lindsey looking for an escape route
Bad news. No break and we were already higher than the saddle between the Four Brothers and Chikamin. The map doesn’t show the cliff accurately. Maybe another hundred or so feet up. Great views, but still no route through the eastern cliffs to the basin we’d have gone up if we’d dropped and followed the trail like in the book descriptions.
Four brothers, Denny rock, Chikamin north basin and a cliff between it and us!
Lindsey traversed west to look around and I walked up the cliff edge hoping for a break. I found a dicey cl4 traverse that could work, but not to my liking. Might as well go up a little more… SCORE! A break lead on a cl2 traverse into the NE basin (9:00a). We traversed on Cascade’s finest scree and talus south to heather and a path that headed up.
Finally into the NE Chikamin basin rock pattern
Wheh! It was nice to not have to drop back to the lake and redo all that elevation. We followed a fairly obvious (most the time) path up heather, talus then rock. Nearing the summit there was a cl3 move for a little spice.
East slope The cl3 move
The summit was large and provided good space to relax (10:00a). Nice views, even with the smoke haze. A cairn, but no register on the summit. Being an often summited peak, I didn’t leave a register.
Lindsey on the summit followed by Pam Huckleberry, Thomson and Snoqualmie far behind in the smoke haze
Pano looking west
Looking east to Three Queens and Four Brothers The south summit face of Iapia
Lake camp far below Summit break time (10:02am)
Mike and Carrie on Iapia (10:05am) Carla and Gabriel on Four Brothers (10:30am)
It looked like Mike ad Carrie had summited Iapia at about the same time. Hard to really see, but I was sure that the summit cairn hadn’t grown that much in the night.
It was going to be a trek out to catch up with Carla ad Gabiel, so after a half hour we departed. Just before the cl3 crux move I noticed figures summit on the Four Brothers. We did a quick about face, returning to the summit to return shouts. Pretty cool, all three groups on summits at the same time. Good timing, though last year three groups not knowing the others or plans, managed to summit all three Index summits at the same time.
Coming down Chikamin The upper east face of Chikamin
Going down is a little different than going up. Many path diversions leading a million different ways. Using a slightly different route we found our pack and headed down the ridge.
Heading to the east saddle looking for Denny Rock Smoke made for some interesting images
Two things to find now. One was Denny Rock. The other the “obvious” path down. Having come up a different way it was not obvious the route down. We followed the ridge path for a while past a rock. Then the path ended. Hmmm, we pondered dropping down the south ridge. We didn’t know the north or south route so maybe it didn’t matter. Some reading and discussion we decided for the route back north to Glacier Lake. Still wondering what Denny Rock looked like and were it was, we turned around and low and behold… Denny Rock. Obvious the faded inscription, though almost impossible to read if we didn’t know what was scratched into it (11:20a).
Denny Rock, “V. Denny R. Denny LLindsley US 1899
More info on the rock and the area…
“ In 1895, Lindsley went to work at the Esther Mine at the head of Gold Creek in Kittitas County. David Denny owned the Esther Mine in Ptarmigan Park, and many Denny men worked at the mine, including Lindsley's uncle Victor W.S. Denny, who appears in many of Lindsley's photographs. Around the same time, David Denny was also in charge of the construction of a wagon road across Snoqualmie Pass. In the late 1890s, Lindsley worked and took pictures at both the road project and the mine, documenting at the latter the mine itself as well as life at the mine cabin. Later, Lindsley and Rolland Herschel Denny climbed the ridge connecting the Four Brothers formation--name for David Denny's sons John, Thomas and Victor, and his son-in-law Edward Lindsley-- to Chikamin Peak. It was probably on this trip that Denny and Lindsley inscribed their names on the rock immediately northwest of Four Brothers peak, as depicted in Lindsley's photograph.”
Choices… right or left
More looking around at which would be a good route. The ridge northwest of Denny Rock was the obvious answer. As we started that way, it became obvious with two hikers carrying full overnight packs topping the ridge. We never met them as they headed east to Chikamin and we headed north and down. Heather, and rock, straight down and winding at times. We ventured a little west when the slope looked to drop off further down (it didn’t).
The slab rock had great sticky traction and was like a giant sidewalk tilted. One section was a conglomerate of very large rocks. Interesting, a solid conglomerate I’d only seen before with smaller rock.
And better a familiar smell. Like blueberries, but we couldn’t see any. Mr H wiggled out and as I knelt down for him I could see his excitement. It was time for some berry delay. And these were tasty, ripe and rich in flavor A+ to Mr H for his spotting the blue in all the red and green.
After much grazing we dropped eastward to avoid cliff getting to the large upper tarn with a bump on our right. Now down to the narrow creek gorge and the trail appeared west heather side. The well-trodden path lead us back to the trail we had used getting from Glacier lake up to Chikamin Lake. We met another hiker heading to Chikamin, this time she had a day pack and had come up from Park Lake. Chicken Leg (Chikamin) was proving to be a very popular peak.
The route up to Chikamin
Heading east toward Glacier Lake is one of the best of the trip (besides the lakelets east of Chikamin Lake). Lush green, grey and purplish granite and an alpine style creek. We noticed movement ahead, it was Carrie and Mike. Again, good timing. The creek led to small drop with a deep private pond cut in the granite.
I remember seeing a picture of Logan swimming in this water pocket –it looked very inviting. The water flowed east with the tall boulder spire overhead and the route I’d taken up under a giant boulder. This time we went south (right) around to a vantage point on top of the giant boulder for a grand view above Glacier Lake (catching up with Mike and Carrie) (12:35p). Going CCW around and down this boulder was easy, but a little spicier than the going under the boulder.
Met up on the boulders west of Glacier Lake
North side of Glacier Lake
A pleasant walk along the north end of the lake, tank up on water then up to the tarns a leftover snow patch and up a steep gulley section to the pass. And… great timing again. Carla and Gabriel were lounging and patiently waiting for us, having summited the eastern main peak of the Four Brothers.
The combined group The view of Lemah Peaks behind us
We all relaxed a short bit and managed to get a group shot of everyone in one place (1:45p) before heading along the PCT as a group.
Even Mr H had a full pack. Where does he keep finding all that candy? Cool inviting Park Lake
A right (southward) on the spur to park lake. The day was hot and the lake inviting. There was one tent and some kitchen gear, but nobody around. We took a break –some to dip the feet, some skinny dip, some to sit in the shade and Lindsey gave an informative depiction of a bear indulging in huckleberries. Worth a great laugh…
He trail out wasn’t remarkable. Switchbacks down, only a couple logs to hop over.
Middle Mineral Creek trail
Old water main
Creek crossing was easy with low water and much of the trail east of that had been brushed several feet each side like a giant lawnmower. An area with large wood pipes sparked my interest to what developments had gone on in the area. Later at home research didn’t find much, just more mining history. The trail turned into an old road. Two hunters with huge packs were heading in. A trail T (a left for us) and small trees provided a makeshift bridge over the creek. Cool water… ahhhh, felt good a brief feet freezing. A few more minutes and we were back at the parking lot and cars. This didn’t mean the end of the trip. Mukmuk and Mr H had an occupy bear campaign. Nice of them to share with us. Our post hike celebration was livened up by their antics –talented bottle opening, a crampon race, and… friends, don’t let your stuffed animals over indulge in candy and beer.
Silly sock monkey… they’re twist tops Two beers found good homes
“Occupy beer” Wild crampon races
Looked like a good idea And why sock monkeys shouldn’t drink
It was a good 2 ½ day adventure, great scenery, a new location and great partners as well. A few more peaks to do in this area, and a beautiful place to revisit and enjoy.
A thanks to all on the trip and see you on the trail (or off) soon.
Thanks for reading and Happy Trails!
Day 1 9.5m, 4331vert
Day 2 x.xm, +/- xxxx
Day 3 x.xm +xxxx
tt: 32.9, +/-12683vert
Gear: 50m rope, slings, brain bucket… extra water
Copyright 2012, FWB, all rights reserved