“The Honey Badger roams the ridges, from larches to lakes and mosquitoes”
Devils Tongue (8048', p528')
Via Nepopekum Day use and Galene Lakes
Feb 11, 2012
Franklin Bradshaw, Carla Schauble, Don “PJ” Beavon
Weather: Morning clouds, afternoon sunshine, winds ~4-6mph
Seeing photos of Silver Lake (Chilliwacks) Devils Tongue is very prominent and looking intimidating. Standing in the saddle west of the lake I wondered would it even be possible to climb. Last summer Carla and I were walking across the Redoubt glacier after my second ascent of SE Twin Spires. There stood Devils Tongue in the gap of the saddle west of Silver Lake. We’d seen it up close yesterday on Custer and Rahm. I seem to remember a comment of, “I want to do that”. Looking at satellite images it looked possible from the east. A month later we received a trip report from Fay of a beautiful hike and scramble from the east. Cool, it could be done and wouldn’t even have to drag in climb gear. The major deterrent seemed to be a solid wall of mosquitoes… ugh
This year has been almost absent of mosquitoes and biting flies. Maybe a good time. So many interesting distractions and the late summer was flying by. Now was the time, before another distraction. Don and Carla were up for it, but no other takers. It seemed a good choice to head north away from all the smoke of the wildfires and smoke. The weather has been so dry and a lack of wind, so even the Smog was thick. It looked possible to do in two long days, but we decided to make it three for more time incase anything un-expected came up and to not “rush” it.
Time to go
Thursday afternoon came quick. Too much last minute work, rush, rush, rush. Over the bridge, ugh… it’s only 3:30pm, why so much traffic? Carla passed Jack off for the weekend, we loaded and headed north. Even with the carpool lane traffic was slow. Accident cleared as we approached… Picked up Don at 5:15 and northbound we went. Some circling around Sumas for last minute lunch food, a Duty Free stop and more questions than I’ve had before to enter Canada. No problem. Don kept us entertained with an illustrious reading of Fay’s detailed trip report. Mosquito hell, ridge heaven and being “driven to the brink of INSANITY…” Nothing in her report about the trail, hmmm, how much work was it going to be? We decided if she didn’t mention it, it was either in good condition or the mosquitoes were too distracting. I’d read a report of it being cleared in 2007, but the recent Parks trail report said “in very poor condition and is not recommended for use”. I guess we’d find out soon enough. No alcohol involved as we occasionally broke out in song and verse. Maybe we’ve been hiking too long together? Nah!
The hour to hope went fast. Off the Trans-Canada (1) at the Flood Hope exit and just before the small bridge a right onto the Silver Skagit road. Still summer (tomorrow is the last day) but now well into darkness. Paved road leading to gravel, ripples and some minor potholes. A stop to take a short look at the Maselpanik Road. A few more minutes we were in the Skagit Valley Provincial Park We decided to give the Skagit river crossing shortcut a try. If that didn’t look good, then the long walk from Chittenden Suspension bridge. The parking lot for the Nepopekum Day use area was small and dry. A short ways down the road we spent the eve at the empty Whitworth horse camp. Clear skies, stars above… We fell asleep happy a great weekend was here.
It got cold last night, real cold. Forecast said mid 50’s, but on the valley floor it was into the 30s (or felt like it. I hope it’d be warm as expected… I had my summer bag. Oops, today it would turn from summer to autumn (September Equinox “September 22, 2149hours (7:49pm)). At the Nepopekum Day Use parking lot, no cars, no mosquitoes. The trail is a flat blocked off road then turns to a trail.
Crossing the Skagit River
The crossing looked pretty shallow, though wide. Still cold out we changed to sandals and crossed wearing puffy coats. The water felt fine til about half way across it felt cold, then colder, then painfully cold. I tried straight across and found a deeper spot well up my thighs. A veer a little downriver would have been knee high or less. A good thought was that my injured ankle was now well iced.
Where we left was flagged with surveyors tape and with a little looking into the woods we found more flagging and am easy to follow “chain-sawed” and flagged trail that lead us to the main Galene Lake trail. No chance of missing either trail with the good tread, or the copious amounts of flagging (every 10-50’).
Intersection of the “shortcut” and Galene Lake trail
The Galene Lake trail was an old logging road, and still heavily flagged and reflectors too.
Very slightly up in grade to a very, very long old log turned bridge (rails and flattened top) lead to a soft dirt trail that went up steeply. Still no mosquitoes. The trail dropped us off on another old road -a right then a switchback, past Rhodies at the side, then the road ended and a soft dirt well maintained trail ensued. Sweet, this was going to make the trip so much easier than expected. The forest was fairly open as far as brush. A bit more brush and a big log to crawl over at the first creek (dry), a duck under a giant log and some mud, then back to great trail. A few windfalls, but nothing too major. The tread at the second creek (flowing) is deteriorating (don’t slide off into the creek –seriously). Warning, the rock is very slippery.
The last water til the lakes
Back to more trail a couple switchbacks, forest opening from windfall (c4200’) and the start of some huckleberry overgrowing the trail. No berries, so the distraction was from the mosses, mushrooms and quiet forest. The trail wound around to the south side of the mound with a first view of Ross lake.
First view of Ross Lake before the trail gets to the ridge
Galene lake basin ahead
A little morning haze made for a serene feel. The temps were getting hot and it was nice to still be in the shade. From here the trail went from sidehill to ridge. Fairly flattish with some up and down. Below a view of a two small lakes. As the ridge rose the trail veered NW (right) to the stepped cirque of Middle Galene Lake (aka “Camp Lake”).
Middle Galene Lake (aka “Camp Lake”)
Lakes, do we have to leave
Perfect timing for another break. We checked out the view down the cliffs to the lower lakes and could tell the outline of the two log rectangular footprints of the old tent camp.
Old tent site log foundations Brilliant fall colors
Debris from the old “mining tent camp”
“The trail heading up to Galene Lakes was made by and actually named for an ore mining company (The Galene Ore Company) believed to have worked in the area in the early 1900s... Two tent frame foundations and an old stove at the second Galene Lake are believed to have been associated with this company."
Don relaxing at “Camp Lake”
The cirque wall surrounded the south, west and north end of the lake. On the north end I found a pile of debris, stove, tent corner joints, cans… After some lounging we left Don lounging on a boulder in the lake as we headed up the SW steep hill to the upper ridge.
Middle Galene Lake (Camp Lake) Carla heading up to Upper Galene Lake
This was real brushwhacking and steep for scrambling. The brush opened and we found more flagging –dang they like a lot of flagging up here. The ridge opened flatter and grasses and there was Don, already caught up. We exited north around a ridge and dropped at an angle north to the upper Galene Lake cirque. Similar though a different flavor than the middle lake.
Upper Galene Lake
We scouted around, and took an extended break. Boots off, lunch… It was very early and it seemed like a great idea to push on to try camping on the ridge up high on Silver Ridge. The biggest issue would be water. I brought an extra canister of gas, would there be snow? II figured we’d need 12L of water minimum. I’m sure there’d be snow on the last pitch, but that is a long ways in. We had enough containers for 9L of water. We filled up and since the lake was not flowing (no snow melt in and outflow was zero) we conditioned the water. The last two weeks was the first time all year needing to condition the water.
Go West young man
Hydrated we loaded up and left around the north end of the lake. We could have gone back south to the ridge or used a goat trail CCW around the lake gaining the ridge via scree, but instead we used the northwest aiming ridge to the high point above the lake. The high point (c1958m) had an old stone cairn, metal tripod and old wood debris. Next to the cairn a benchmark from the “International Boundary Commission”.
Looking west to the Chilliwacks
Great views, from here we could see all the way to the Chilliwacks out west and the spire of Devils Tongue. Looked a long ways out there. The walk was a gentle downhill in dry grasses. South down to a wide open south sloped grass land. If I’d heard a cowbell, I’d have known I was in Switzerland.
On the way to Silver Ridge (Southwest) above Galene Lake
We followed a faint trail as high in the field as possible to the west ridge. Must be in the North Cascades since we found balloon debris.
Onward down the slope to the fallen over “Monument 70” at the CDN-US Boundary Swath.
Fallen Monument #70
Why the swath?
From International Boundary Commission “The Canada-United States boundary: The next century”:
"...three-stage process: definition, demarcation (and sanction) and delineation (and maintenance)."
“... the boundary as marked and as accepted by the two countries is the border, regardless of differenced with treaty descriptions."
“…2173km is forested. To maintain a 15 year cycle, on average about 150km of boundary vista (20feet in width) must be cleared annually. The vista has to be kept clear for maintenance purposes and to ensure clear visibility or public notice of the boundary.”
I hope that answers some of that.
Back in the USA
The crossing is at a saddle with pleasant walking and a path. We headed up looking for a route lower on the west ridge without going all the way to the top of Peak 6434.
Done heading up Silver Ridge
On our west was a barren scree/talus slope with steep entry. We kept going up and finally were able to drop the packs for the last couple hundred feet to the high point (cairn and Fay-2011 reg).
Peak 6434 register (high point of the East part of Silver Ridge Time to summit relax
Don and the larch peak of our camp (peak 2002+) Through the Col – SE Twin Spire(Lemolo and Hard Mox) ,Col of the Wild and NE Twin Spire
Jack, Controversy (Raeburn) and Little Controversy North and South Hozomeen
It was 78F and we didn’t need much excuse for another break. We could see our route for the next day and our travels would be “high alpine” feel. Above most trees, more heather and high grasses with some rock crossings. Up from a saddle west was a high point and we could see it had larch. We decided that would be camp. I like camping on high ridges and I like the texture and color of larch, blueberry and granite. That highpoint looked to have it all.
The trees thinned as we rose up from the c5884’ saddle. I was feeling the hot. Was this really the last day of summer? I wandered around checking out the high point (c6570, 270’ north of the boundary. Several campfire areas and wonderful yellow larch and bright red blueberry bush color. It didn’t take any coaxing to settle down and call this home for the rest of the day. We settle on a “perfect” flat spot about 6540’ where my feet would be in Canada and my head in the USA. Sandals on we each roamed exploring the ridge, great photo-ops, Devils Tongue still looking far off (only c2 miles). I found a small bit of ice on the north slope and broke a piece off for water. We had an earlier than normal dinner watching the sunset over Devils Tongue and Rahm. Stars came out and as we bedded down Don spotted an owl circling over our home.
Looking west up Silver Ridge to the Chilliwacks East to the Hozomeens
North Hozomeen South Hozomeen (did in July 2010)
Camp 1 on the east end of Silver Ridge
Sun above Devils Tongue Feeding time
Sunset into the Chilliwacks Angle hair clouds over the Devil
Visibility goes to the Devil…
The evening was very warm. No hat and summer bag open I slept well. The stars were out, but by morning not as bright as they should, and that smell. In the night I woke to wander a little and look around. The smell had me worried about wildfires. What if… No glows to spot, just that smell.
Awake and still dark, as it began to lighten the smell was still there. Below a cloud layer filled in the valleys. It looked like a giant glacier filling the void. As the day woke the sun lit up the sky eerily. It was like a orange glow all around. Omni-directional and odd. The skies were aglow, the sun late to make an appearance. Above the lower valley cloud was a thick layer of dense smoke glowed a dark orange.
Ross Lake covered in clouds. Good thing we are camping up high
Ten minutes from camp I crossed over Point 6545 –no cairn, just a low bump with c135’ prominence. The high point of Silver Ridge in Washington, but the Ridges highpoint is in Canada east of camp at c6570’+ (2003m).
Looking west to the Chilliwacks And back to the east
The sky still glowed as we made our way down another saddle and up the gentle ridge. Like Fay said, this was like a heaven. Great places for camping abound here and there was a small snowfield still left. The heather was punctuated by the barren rock scraps showing were recent permanent snowfields had existed.
Peak 7103 from the east
Devils Tongue from 7103
Yikes! The snow patch looks like a ghoul face
Now a little side-hilling and at the base of Peak 7103 we followed Fay’s illustrated route southwest up to the NW sloping “very unpleasant, but blessedly short loose gulley to the top”. I had to return to the snow patch far below, while the others patiently waited for me. The broad summit of 7103 had what looked like a dried out pond and plenty of camp options.
7103 summit cairn Note from 2011 party
The summit had a cairn with some coat-hanger wire and old wood debris. On the west side were we would drop down the loose gentle sloping rock Don found a note at a cairn from a September 3-4, 2011 trip. From 7103 we could view the rest of our route. A drop down the west side of 7103 and figure out how to sidehill below buttresses and crap to under the snowfield on the lower east flank of Devils Tongue. Then what? We didn’t bring crampons and had one light ice ax for the three of us. I tried staying too high on the traverse and finally got smart enough to drop a little more elevation. It was obvious that others have been this way. I wonder if anyone else this year. I looked forward to seeing who had signed into the register. At the base of the snow the solid rock south of the snowfield wasn’t doable from the base. We filled up on a water stream coming out of a snow cave. I went higher left into the frig cold moat/cave then left and out to rock. Not the only way about it, but did avoid the slippery wet rock.
Up the solid rock heading southwest to a wide ledge (c7320’, 9:40a) and the start of the class 3 scrambling. It was about 700’ to the summit and only 400’ to the nest wide flat arm. In that 400’ there were more than 14 cairns. Go figure, not difficult navigation, you just go up the easiest (or funniest) route and whack, you’d smack into a cairn. Reminded me of the obvious trail yesterday with copious flagging.
Start of the class 3 scramble another 400’ up
Carla and Don scrambling to the summit ridge Don on the summit ridge 75’ to go
Great view to Silver Lake
Twenty minutes of “extremely pleasant solid class 3 scrambling on a nifty series of ledges” (Fay Sept 2011 trip report), then a flat spot for great views to Silver Lake. Up and one spicier spot and we hit the ridge about 75’ below the summit. West was a cliff to a gulley, we scrambled the ridge north to the summit (10:00a, 2.3m, 8048’).
Don checking out Silver Lake and Carla on the summit (weird perspective –not photoshopped!)
Carla summit lounging
Everyone needs to eat No sign-ins since last year
Devils Tongue summit register
Despite the thick smoke the views were outstanding. Silver lake did not have the bright blue color today, but did look to have more snow than last year in August. It took a while to find the summit register. It was hidden and buried. I wonder if other parties had summited and not found it. No parties had signed in since the register was place last year. It was obvious that others had been on route, or were those tracks over a year old? We wandered the summit area. Looking down on the lake –no apparent way down. Rahm loomed overhead with heavily melted out glacier on its north. Devils Toothpick far below looked like a likely future target. Carla has a trip scheduled for the next weekend to come into Rahm, so maybe…
Silver Lake Custer Ridge (and Rahm) –Devils Toothpic bottm left of center
Rahm and The Maselpanik valley ridge…
Looking South –Jack on the left, Prophet Ridge, Pickets and Chilliwacks right of the picture
Genisis-Prophet Ridge Pickets and huge Luna (center)
Hozomeens Summit lounging with a different Chilliwack view
Rahm and the Masopanik Creek area north
What is left of the glacier NE on Rahm
The skies had smoke, clouds and blue patches. The day was not hot like yesterday. A blessing for hiking, though clear views were missed. South the Pickets and east Hozomeens masked in smoke/smog gave a very different view than from this angle the last few years. Even Mr. H came out to party and munch out.
Don’t look back
45 minutes (10:45a) on the summit and we decided it was time to head back. Just a reverse of our up route. More difficult finding the way down –cairns do make reversing easier.
Heading down Cloud looked like a claw that in moments engulfed the ridge and our camp
We were off the cl3 by 11:19, back under the snow at the moat, refresh water and atop 7103 by noon o’clock. Now the dreaded “unpleasant gulley”. Luckily, it is very short (c80’) -we stayed close, since hard not to drop scree debris. I wonder what the more north slab route would be like? We had the “made the summit high” as we walked back to camp over the gentle rolling ridge (1:20a, 4.6m, c6550, 6h35m).
Warm weather, great views (and improving) , no mosquitoes and still early. It was a good day. We packed up and started hiking out with a last look back along the ridge (2:05p). This would be a nice place to just hangout.
Bye, Bye Silver Ridge larch
Easy walking with relatively light packs with no pro, rope, crampons... Not the best route from the 5884 saddle to Monument 70. Could have been easier to just lose elevation more toward the border. We stayed on a relatively level traverse then on open flat wooded area on a path past Monument 70 and up the ridge to the giant sloped meadow imported from Switzerland.
The sweeping meadow above Galene Lakes
We found and used the scree goat path across the west end of the upper lake cirque to the lake’s north end (3:42p, 6.8m, c6100, 8h57min).
Upper Galene Lake by the goat path –where is the sunshine? -thick smoke haze
The Wright way
Hmmm, it wasn’t even 4 o’clock yet. We had at least three and a half hours of daylight. The weather was warm, but not hot for lake swimming. Wright Peak was under a mile and a half due north with open hills and ridges to get to. We guessed that we could get there and back in the daylight. It looked a long ways off and interesting. Just in case we took headlamps… Four o’clock and we were off. Traversed to the saddle and direct 345’ up over the hill (point 6500+) in less than a half hour. Wright was still a long ways away. Now down the north ridge of up and downs.
Wright Peak from the SW Wright Peak from the SE
Looking back on the ridge (looking south) Start of the scramble of the south flank
Don, sans pack was off like a shot, next I saw him was on the summit. Carla and I took the high route of up and down ridges. The lower field trail would be faster, but the views and scrambling on the ridge was fun. The last 5-6 minutes of the ridge was up the south side of Wright.
Carla likes to scramble…
Cl2 surrendering to cl3. This was fun and different. Carla went right past Don’s pole hanging in a tree and I went left up the loose west face meeting at the summit ridge and finding Don seated at the summit enjoying the view (5:12p, 1.4m, 6716’, 1h12min from lake).
Wright memorial Placed a new register
There was a wooden engraved cross attached to a summit tree (“F Wright 1914-1942”). I researched, and have yet to find out the history of F Wright. The view was of course great. Easy to see our route from the entire day and weekend. I played around on various summit rock/spires then settled to enjoy.
Don and Carla enjoying the end of the day Wright Peak summit views
Wright Peak summit from the small spires just north
Yeah, a nice day. We placed a new register and left by 5:35p. Don was ahead of us again. A little ridge then we tried the meadow trail till it vanished around a ridge. Not sure of what was ahead we went up to the high point then followed the ridge south again. Before Point 6500+ I dropped down to meadow trail again while Carla followed Don up the ridge. We met again at the saddle south of the point with only brief berry delays. After so many miniature dry berries, it was sweet to find nice ripe and ready berries –Yumm.
Back at the upper lake with time to set camp in the daylight (6:45, 3m, 2h45min) we settled for a spot overlooking the cliffs to the east. Below the glacier of clouds engulfed the middle lake –glad we weren’t there. Relaxing after dinner some whisps of cloud rolled up. Mr H brae from some Wild Turkey convinced the clouds to stay low. The clouds stayed down at the middle lake and wet dew of dusk dried by morning. It was the first evening of Autumn. Short days were allowing me more sleep than if I was at home. I fell asleep after corralling my feisty sock monkey buddy –this was a good day.
Where are the Mosquitoes
Not much today, a lazy wake up. Still only a mosquito or two that committed suicide between my palms. We took it easy watching the wakening of a new day. A dark lightness, with the clouds down low and smoke layer above. This smoke was making weird scenery.
Hozomeens at sunrise
We’d rather stay up here where warm than drop into the cloud.
Mr H had a little gas… Mr H notices the sun getting high. “Ready to go?”
Time to leave Galene Lake –its stunning setting, colors and reflections
Last of the upper lake The ridge down to the middle lake
Even flagging up here. Seems to be a lot of flagging up here A little bushwhacking to get to the Middle lake trail
The fog looked like a glacier. Maybe it looked like this long, long ago Last view of Middle Galene Lake (“Camp Lake”)
We left the lake at 8:25am. Heading south to the ridge then a bushwhack to the middle lake trail (30min). The ridge walking had more up than I remembered. The hot day got cooler. Passing into the huckleberry area it went down to 68F and lower to 61F. Nice for hiking, but I had hoped hot for the river crossing. A nice trail and a pretty walk til I wacked a bush in the trail and felt a sting on my neck. I was off at about ten million miles an hour. Hands flapping and running full speed down the trail. Wasp buzzing around my head, another sting, I kept running. Finally, no more buzz and I stopped. Where were the others? Did they run the other way or…? They found me and had had no issue. Carla applied a little Hydrocortisone to take away the itch. No more brush beating for me. Now on the old logging road and at its end it happened. Yeah, just like Fay said… AARRGGHHHH! “MOSQUITOES!!!” Trick was to not stop moving. They seemed to ease up away from the creek. 5.1 miles from the lake we took a left on the shortcut to the river. Whew, no mosquitoes. Oops, there were waiting for us at the river (11:20a, 5.5m, less than 3 hours from the lake).
Saw three guys fishing, but no fish Don wading the Skagit River
The fishermen downstream in the river didn’t seem to notice us. I was just glad the sun was out and it was warm. The river was fine again til a little over half way across. Nice to ice the feet, but it got painfully cold. Maybe hip waders would be a good idea for this fording stuff.
The flat trail access to the river
North side of the river we kept going the final half mile in sandals. A nice decompression from such a nice hike. It was good… until… until… the parking lot (11:45a, 6m, 3h20min). It was a reenactment of Fay’s last September trip. A wall of killer Mosquitoes giving no respite. Ruthless and not caring about heavy doses of bug spray. It was exactly as she had said, “…I endured dozens of new bites and was driven to the brink of insanity”. We made haste to get out of there. The trip mantra would be, “driven to the brink of… INSANITY”. Dang, such a short spell of time for those pesks, we’d almost made it out avoiding them.
Mr H, not bothered by Mosquitoes relaxes with an IPA
Heading out we drove up the Maselpanik Road as far as we would in a low car, admired SilverTip, Rideout and the peak that looks like Half Dome.
By Bellingham it was still early so we decided to celebrate at Casa-de Pasa, aka Tequila University. Remember, not margaritas for the driver… This is a good day.
Two is over Mr H’s limit
The wasp sting and mosquito bites are still itchy and swollen two days later. This was a trip that would stay with me physically as well as the good memories. For those going in you could rush this trip, but I’d not. It’s a real nice area to enjoy and would be a waste to rush. Even at three days I now feel it would have been nice to lounge in many of the places along the route longer.
An interesting note of late, have seen scat and tracks of goat, deer, marmot, bear… BUT, lately have yet to see any mammals larger than a chipmunk.
A great northern adventure, beautiful hike and the best camp sites –oh and fun scrambling. Thanks Don and Carla : )
And thank you for reading. Happy Trails!
in 9.4m, +6350/-1415vert, 9h
Summit day 9.8m, +3900/-4390 ,11h07m
out 6.0m +200/-4485, 3h20m
tt: 25.6m, +/-10,450, 23h27m
Gear: three bottles bug juice, one of Wild Turkey and extra water. Took one ice ax, but never needed it.
Galene Lake Trail –great trail!
Silver Ridge route to Devils Tongue
Wright Peak from Galene Lake
Copyright 2012, FWB, all rights reserved