Navaho Peak

     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 camera.

     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.

Stafford Creek
Indian Paintbrush
Glacier Lilies
Small Creek
Little Navaho Peak
Summit From Pass
Stuart Range
Earl Peak From Pass
Mt. Stuart
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

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