Lake Ann - Fortune Peak

Last October I made my first visit ot Lake Ann in the Teanaway to see the golden larch trees. I found many larch and no people. This year Gary and I had planned an overnight trip along the Carne High Route to see larch. The poor weather report changed our plans and Lake Ann looked like a good fall back option. Suzanne and Sadie joined us. Suzanne and I were on the road by 6:00 am and met Gary at the Issaquah P&R at 6:30. By 8:30 we were on the trail. There were a half dozen or more iced up cars and one school bus in the 4243' Ingalls/Esmerelda parking lot. It was 32 degrees as we began to hike and a good early pace helped us warm up.

The trail is so gently graded that a fast pace is easy. We were in clouds most of the drive over but the sky was now blue. We soon had good views up to Esmerelda Peaks. There are not many leaves along the trail but the grassy meadows and ferns were golden. A little before reaching Fortune Pass we turned off on the County Line Trail heading up towards Lake Ann. The ground was frozen but we were now in the sun and it was feeling much warmer. The trail up to the ridge top is a little rocky but easy enough to follow.

The trail soon crested the ridge coming down from the summit of Fortune Peak at an elevation of about 6480'. To this point we gained just over 2200' in about 4 miles. There are no larch trees visible all the way to the ridge top. The north side of the ridge is covered in larch. We also had a good view of some fresh snow on South Ingalls Peak. The sun was just peaking over Fortune Peak giving us some interesting light and dark conditions for photos. As we began the 300' descent to the lake we heard voices. Down at the switchback we met the backpackers. It turned out to be Bob and Kolleen, the Trail Pair. In a strange irony, we had invited them to join us on our Carne trip for this weekend. Each of us chose Lake Ann instead. They recognized Sadie, Sadie's Driver, and Gary form previous reports. They had spent the night at Lake Ann and were just heading out. We said our good byes and continued down to the lake.

Sadie was quick to jump in the lake. What she didn't know was that the entire lake was covered by a coating of ice. The ice broke, she ended up in the water and quickly jumped out. That was the end of her aborted swim. The larch were just about at their peak. Suzanne and I had 4 days of larch in the Enchantments two weeks before. For Gary this was his first larch trip in two years. We all took advantage of the sun and golden trees to get in some photos.

After a bite to eat we headed back up to the ridge. It was time for part two of the trip. I had been up Fortune Peak three times previously but never up nor down via the usual ridge route. One spot on the ridge looked bad from the trail coming up. I knew there was a scramble trail and was interested in how it ascended that spot. We headed up the ridge staying close to the crest. The south side of the ridge was sunny and dry though some ground was frozen hard. The north side was shaded and had some light ice and snow cover. We were able to follow the route much of the way. When I got off route the going was still pretty easy to figure out.

At the bad looking spot there is a gully which goes right on up. At one point we had to traverse to the left side of the ridge but the footing was fine although icy. Sadie, with four paw drive, had less trouble than any of us. In due time we reached the 7382' summit of Fortune Peak. Some clouds were now coming in but the views were outstanding. Mts. Daniel and Hinman had nice white coatings of fresh snow. Rainier and Glacier Peak were visible. On my last visit to Fortune the visibility was about 10 feet. Ingalls Lake was below and Gallagher Head Lake shone in the sun through a gap in the ridge to the south. Directly below were all the golden larch in Headlight Basin. The summit really does have some outstanding views.

The summit register is still missing but someone has built a huge cairn. We had a leisurely lunch while enjoying the views. There was virtually no wind and with the sun the temperature was almost pleasant. All to soon it was time to head on down. We followed, more or less, the route Gary and I took on our last visit. We started down the ridge route a short distance and then went straight down the slope. It remained moderately steep the whole way back down into the valley but the footing was excellent. In less than a mile we lost 2200' and popped out onto the trail right where a group was taking a rest. They did not seem the least bit surprised to see us coming off the side of a mountain.

The rest of the way out was on the very gentle trail on which we had begun this hike. Over the course of the day we saw the Trail Pair, one hiker at the ridge above Lake Ann, and several groups in the last few miles on the Esmerelda Trail. Not bad considering that the parking lot was full with 16 cars parked down the road as well. Totals for the day were about the same as a hike up Mt. Si, 8 1/4 miles with 3400' gained. Ingalls Pass and lake are deserving of a visit in October but for some larch and solitude it's hard to beat Lake Ann and Fortune Peak.

Several photos courtesy of Suzanne Hartman

Esmerelda Peaks
Mt. Rainier
Hawkins Mountain
South Ingalls Peak
Lake Ann
Small Larch
Ridge Larch
Trail Down
Larch At Lake
Frozen Lake
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Photo Page 2

Trips - 2005