Glacier Basin

This hike is one of my favorites. I've done it more than half a dozen times though not in the last decade. It was time for a return trip. The easy way is to bike into Monte Cristo but that only leaves a 5 mile RT hike. Adding the four mile road walk ups it to 13 miles. It was foggy in Seattle as I got started. I reached Barlow Pass at 8:15 and was on my way soon after. It was cold but not freezing. Before long I was passed by one, two, then three cars. Two bikers whizzed by me as well. The cars stopped at the bridges. Last time I was here was on a bike about 3 years earlier. The second bridge was out and we pedaled through water. Now both bridges are in fine shape.

The road is in excellent condition. A few of the old washouts have been repaired. It is easy walking. Fog hung low in the valley but soon I had misty views up to snowy peaks in the Gothic Basin area. The three cars passed me once again. I noticed the new outhouse just before Monte Cristo. It took me 66 minutes to reach the bridge into town. Not bad speed for 4 miles with a few photo stops.

The sky was now blue but it was still no more than 40 degrees. I headed up Dumas Street. I see that land has been donated for an interpretive center. I wonder if building plans are in the works? I headed on up to the old trail sign where the mine to market road came in. The brush was soaked by dew but the route has little brush that overhangs the trail. I found some very nice frost and dew covered plants along here. In fact it took as long to get from Monte Cristo to Glacier Falls as the whole four mile road walk. It was still early and I was in no hurry.

The falls were plenty loud. I stopped at the viewpoint rocks for a break. Just beyond the steep section begins. It is really more of a steep rocky rut than a trail through here. It was wet and covered by leaves. I was surprised to see that there are two hand lines here. They were helpful considering how slick it was. Both are in near new condition. After the steepest climb the route mellows a little. There is still one more steep spot to come.

The trail does moderate near 4000' and that's where the snow began. It was thin but very quickly covered the ground. I could see two sets of fresh footprints in the snow. Likely the two bikers who went by me in the first mile of the road/trail. The trail met up with the creek. When I couldn't stay out of the water any longer I headed higher through the rocks. I soon lost the footprints and kept scrambling. When nearing trees I headed straight up and ran into the upper trail. A few minutes later I reached the flats of Glacier Basin.

The sun was shinning though it was not far above the wall of the basin. It was time for lunch. Soon after I sat down a few clouds covered the sun and it was instantly cold. I decided to head into the middle of the basin as that area was still in the sun. It had been many months since I crunched through fresh snow. I had to cross three or four branches of the creek.

The basin was very pretty with sun shining on the fresh snow. Monte Cristo Peak had glare but everything else was very clear. When the sun dropped behind the ridge it was time to go. I still had 6 1/2 miles to cover. The trail through the rocks was not a lot of fun. The snow between the rocks was solid - or it wasn't. I had to be careful not to fall through. Once back down by the creek the going was easy.

Dropping down the wet rut of a trail to the falls was tougher than ascending but was not as bad as I feared. The hand lines did help. Back at the falls I was in the sun again. It was so nice I had to take a long break. Del Campo Peak was in the clouds but it slowly came out into the open. The last of the fall colors were in the valley below. Reluctantly, I headed on down. Closer to Monte Cristo I met the first hikers I had seen all day. A few groups were heading up towards the falls.

I left Monte Cristo at 1:15. By some fluke it took the same 66 minutes to hike out. Several groups of bikers pedaled on by including the two early birds who passed me within a few minutes of the end. This was a very nice day in the mountains. After a cool sunny fall day at Skyscraper Mountain last week the snow today really felt like winter is on its way. It was nice to squeeze in one more sunny day. It's hard for me to believe I had not been in Glacier Basin in a decade. It is such a neat place. It's great with the wildflowers of early summer and equally great with the first snow of the season.

Foggy Valley
Twin Bridges
Sun And Fog
Sun On Sauk
Leaves Along Road
Entering Town
Monte Cristo
Sun On Ridge
Sunny North Ridge
Surviviing Buildings
Up The Valley
Remaining Color
Frosted Leaves
Icy Leaf
Many Frosted Leaves
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Photo Page 2

Trips - 2006