Glacier Basin

Yesterday it was 93 degrees on our drive home after hiking to Bearhead Mountain and Summit Lake. Did I really want to go out again on a day that would be just as hot? Well, yes. This time I met Gwen at 6:30 am and we headed north. On to Granite Falls and out the Mountain Loop Highway. We reached Barlow Pass at 8:00 am and were on the trail at 8:10 am. There were only half a dozen cars there. It was a pleasant almost chilly temperature. About 15 degrees cooler than in my house in the morning. This trip starts and ends with a 4 mile road walk. Not much elevation change over the distance. The chill in the air did not last long. At just short of one mile is the river crossing. The log is plenty wide. By Weden House we met a group coming out. A little later there was another group leaving. One couple passed us. We caught up with two more groups.By three miles we had accounted for just about every car in the lot.

The road is mostly in forested and so pretty cool. After 1:25 we crossed the bridge into Monte Cristo. The easy four miles done and the tough 2 1/2 miles still to go. We took a break in town. The volunteer's with the Monte Cristo Preservation Association were staying in one cabin. At 10:10 am we headed up Dumas Street. Not much still standing on the old main street. Next is the forested walk to the Glacier Basin trailhead. Lots of plastic tape fencing around the old concentrator. When the clean up comes in the near future the town site will likely be closed for some time. At the trailhead the old trail that came up from the creek is almost gone now.

We had a little more shade then it was all gone. Full on sun brought up the apparent temperature by about 20 degrees. It was already hot. The trail travels through shoulder high brush as it begins to climb. near the waterfall it gets steeper. We stopped at the waterfall to eat, drink, and put on lots of sunscreen. Out on the rocks next to the falls the temperature seemed to drop dramatically. It was actually comfortable. All to soon we were set for the steepest part of the day.

The first part is up rock slabs and the rope hand line is still in place. It does make it easier. There are no switchbacks. The old miners route is straight up. I first saw the hand line on my June visit in 2010. At that time the snow began at the top of the steepest section. I usually visit the basin when it is still under snow. I was interested in seeing it mostly snow free again. I was hoping for some snow to keep us cool. Gwen did fine on the steep part. Fortunately the bugs were not too bad all day. The grade soon relented and our pace picked up a little. Soon the fast couple who passed us on the road walk passed us again, this time coming down.

There are still a number of big waterfalls far above the trail and across the creek. More came into view as we neared the basin. At the trail split I chose the high route. The lower one looked to be under water in places as the creek is still running high. As the trail grade moderated we went behind Mystery Hill and into the shade. This made a huge difference. With some wind blowing down from the basin we were about as cool as anyone in Washington state this day. The trail brought us into the basin right where the placid meandering creek begins it's mad rush downhill. With all the snow melt the roaring torrent is pretty impressive.

Much of the basin has melted out but at the end and on the south side there is still plenty of snow. It still looks very scenic. A few wispy clouds floated in heralding the coming onshore flow that will bring us back to normal temperatures in the next few days. For now it was still bright blue and awfully hot. We saw shooting stars blooming along the creek. We jumped across several arms of the creek and made our way to a big rock. There was a small shaded spot between the rock and the creek. Just enough room for us to sit down in the shade for lunch. Gwen put her foot in the water and had to pull it out in a matter of seconds. I tried my hand and it hurt in no time. 32.5 degree water is a good antidote to 90 degrees. Once cool we climbed up on top of the rock. the top was angled perfectly for laying down. Even angled foot rests. We spent from 1:00 pm to 2:50 pm at the big rock. The cool breeze made it the perfect place to while away the afternoon. Not bad views all around either. Monte Cristo Peak still has lots of snow as with much of the upper basin.

I thought we left at 2:00 pm. somehow my watch lost 50 minutes. We headed down much later than planned. A single hiker came and went during our stay and three more came later. That was it for the day. Lots of solitude. As we started back Gwen scrambled up a 30 foot tall rock for some shots with her WTA Hike-A-Thon shirt. Pretty good back drop in the basin. Going down was not much faster than up. Narrow trail, route along a rock field, then the steep descent back to the falls. At the top of the steepest part we were back in the sunshine and it was stiflingly hot. The wind at the waterfall overlook helped but was still very hot. The hike through the brush was painfully hot. It was a big relief to get back into the forest. Instant 25 degree drop.

Once back in Monte Cristo the sun was behind the ridge. Still nicely cool. The road walk back was comfortably cool too. We arrived back at the car at 6:15 watch time but 7:00 pm real time. Still half a dozen cars. Evening traffic was light making for an easy drive home. This is a tough hike on a hot day. 13 miles with 2400' of gain. The steepest spot is hard in the heat going up and down. On the plus side we had a lot of shade. The cool breeze blowing over the snow made the basin down right comfortable. Not a lot of folks felt that way at 90 degrees in Seattle. A fun trip and enjoyable to contrast my usual snowy trips with a mostly snow free visit.

Log Bridge
Monte Cristo Sign
Nearing Waterfall
Into The Brush
Find Gwen
Del Campo Peak
Wilderness Sign
Steep Trail
On "Trail"
Waterfall Above
Trees On Trail
Garter Snake
First Look At Basin
Bleeding Hearts
Trail Over Rock Field
More Rocky Trail
Monte Cristo Peak
Old Water Pipe
Roaring Creek
Glacier Basin
Looking Back
Gwen Modeling Shirt
Rest Time
Lounging Rock View
Mine Shaft
Shoe Shot
Two Other Hikers
Gwen Scrambling
Queen Of The Hill
Heading Out
White Water
Crossing Talus
A Little Smooth Trail
Falling Water
Closer Shot
Ridge To Falls
Gothic & Del Camp
Descending Hand Line
Slot Falls
Route To Basin
Almost Out Of The Sun
Monte Cristo Cabins
Sun On Peaks
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2012