Navaho is one of my favorite Teanaway
peaks. It is a nice easy Summer scramble. It is a far better Spring snow
scramble. Early in the year there are lots of flowers, lots of water, and
a very nice snow covered ridge up to the summit. I managed to con Lyn into
going along even with 4300' of elevation gain. We headed over on Friday night
and arrived just after dark at 9:30. As reported earlier, there is new bathroom
at the trailhead. The valley now has new ones at Ingalls, DeRoux, Beverly
CG, and here. It sits near the road where there used to be parking. If nobody
is camping, there are about a dozen parking spaces left. It rained most of
the way driving over and the ground was wet even at the trailhead. We hoped
the forecast for better weather on Saturday would come through.
By camping at the trailhead we had the luxury of sleeping
in and still getting a reasonably early start. We were on the trail at 8:50.
The sky was totally cloudy but there was no rain. The first few miles of
the Stafford Creek trail had a good variety of flowers. I recognized the Paintbrush
and Oregon Grape. Many others were familiar but I didn't remember the names.
Farther along we saw lots of Glacier Lilies. The creek is at high water now
and the roar is quite impressive. In a few months it will be reduced to a
small flow. We found no downed trees the entire day. It was shorts and short
sleeves but with the clouds it was still fairly cool. Those are the perfect
conditions for me on the way up hill. Coming down lots of sun is great. We
hit the first patches of snow at about 2 miles in. The snow was patchy and
no problem at all. As we climbed higher the clouds were just above us. We
could not see Little Navaho directly above us or Earl at the head of the
valley. We went through the switchbacks and reached the one sometimes difficult
creek crossing at 4800'. We were able to climb out onto a log then a rock
and jump to the other side. I have gone straight up from here to the summit
but there was not enough snow to make this an appealing option. We continued
on the trail. The next section is in a little thicker forest and had more
snow patches. For the next 1 1/2 miles, sections of the trail were a creek.
To make it tougher some of the area is marshy and muddy. When the snow is
gone this will be dry and dusty. The snow is melting fast and climbing around
the creek/trail can lead to some nasty post holing.
At the Standup Creek trail junction the trail is a
full fledged creek. As we headed up the long switchbacks the trail was mostly
snow free though mostly under water. By the top of the switchbacks, just before
the meadow, everything was snow covered. I chose to turn straight up hill
and we ascended to the right of the meadow. The meadow itself has a few small
bare spots but is almost entirely snow covered. To this point we had seen
one party of 7 or 8 backpackers coming down. I had hoped to reach the southwest
ridge of Navaho well above Navaho Pass but the snow was too thin higher up.
Instead we followed a gently rising traverse all the way to the pass. Both
sides of the pass are snow covered but the ridge top itself is completely
bare. We met 2 backpackers here who had room for their tent right on the
ridge top. By now the clouds had lifted and the sky was partly sunny. The
pass is at 6000' and the summit is 3/4 of a mile and 1200 vertical feet away.
There is a very nice view of the Stuart Range from the pass but no view of
Stuart itself. As you climb up the ridge the views improve very rapidly.
The lower part of the ridge is bare. Snow was on each side but by staying
on the ridge top we avoided it. Soon we were on snow. The conditions were
just about perfect. The snow was very well compacted but soft enough to easily
kick solid steps. This was more elevation gain than Lyn had done it some
time but she did very well. The wind was picking up and we put on more clothes
even though the sky was mostly sunny now. Poles went into my pack and ice
axes came out here as well. At some places there was bare dirt to the left
side of the ridge. We did a little of it but the snow to the right side was
even easier. After a long slog the summit came into view and at 2:00 we topped
out. Last year I came up on a sunny day in May and had camera problems. I
vowed to return this year and I had just as nice a day but with a working
The wind was steady and very cold. I nearly emptied
my pack as I put on most of my clothes. Lyn was impressed with the views
from her first Teanaway peak. I was surprised to see that we were only the
third party to sign the register this year. The first one was only a week
ago. By dropping behind the summit rocks to the east we were able to get
out of the wind. It was now warm enough to allow a long summit stay. We ended
up staying there for an hour and 20 minutes. Navaho gives one of the most
interesting views of Mt. Stuart. It was crystal clear around us but some
clouds and haze were appearing near the Cascade crest. Even Mt. Rainier was
visible. From Navaho I was able to see all the other Teanaway peaks I have
scrambled this year. Earl was just across the way. Iron was in the distance.
Johnson was far below us. Yellow Peak was also visible. At 7223', Navaho
is one of the highest Teanaway peaks and is a commanding viewpoint. We reluctantly
packed our gear and headed down. The descent was a blast. Most of the way
was a combination of glissades and fast plunge stepping. In less than half
an hour we were back at the pass. We followed our steps back down. In half
a mile from the pass we saw 5 groups coming up. The crowds did arrive but
quite late. It was 4:00 when we left the pass. Coming down we stopped at
the Standup Creek intersection. The creek is roaring at this point. If you
are going to cross it be prepared for a very wet ford. When we reached the
difficult creek crossing the situation had changed from the morning. With
the afternoon snow melt the water was noticably higher. Getting across with
dry feet was not possible. It required a leap to the middle and two more
jumps before getting to the other side. The rest of the way was fine and
we reached the car at 6:45. I scanned the register on top and saw that this
is the third year in a row I have been up. I may take a year off but I will
be back. This is simply a great snow scramble.
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.
Photo Page 2
Little Navaho Peak
Summit From Pass
Earl Peak From Pass