Basalt Ridge

I joined Bob and Kolleen for only my second backpacking trip of the year. The forecast was for sunshine both days. That has not happened often this year. They had day hiked this trail twice in the fall when larch trees are golden high on the ridge. I had never hiked it at all. Always fun to hike a new trail. There is precious little water anywhere on this trail so we were counting on the heavy winter snow pack to give us some snow to melt for water. The only alternative is to descend into a basin for water. We wanted to camp right on the ridge for the best views, especially sunset and sunrise. I was not sure I could take the whole weekend for a trip so I did not agree to go until 8:30 pm on Friday and only then began to pack.

We met at 7:45 am Saturday and headed east on Highway 2. Over Stevens Pass and left to Lake Wenatchee and then to the Chiwawa River Road. A right turn at 9.4 miles and 5.7 miles to the trailhead. There are only two wide spots on the road to park with room for up to 6 cars if care it taken. There was one car there as we packed up and got started at 10:25 am. I was warned that the trail starts out steep. Yes it does. It's 1.4 miles to the junction on the ridge. The route gains 1200' and has some flat spots. There has not yet been any log clearing. We found at least half a dozen big trees down that required going over or around. The overs were not all that easy. It will be much better when they are removed. We took a short break at the junction then headed on.

The first junction is with the trail that climbs over Basalt Peak. We quickly met another junction. The way is all in forest up to here but we soon broke out into the open. The "getting very hot" open. The high was only supposed to be 63 at about 6000' but it was much warmer. We also encountered mosquitoes. Not a black wave but enough to be bothersome all weekend. We climbed up to an open area with some nice views for lunch at noon. The view only improved the higher we went. I have only done one backpack this year and Bob and Kolleen none. The heavier packs, the steep trail, and one of the first hot days of the year really slowed us down. Slow but at least we kept moving.

We worked our way around the first high point and the trail moved onto the ridge top. Some trees, grass, flowers and soon some snow. We met two other nwhikers members, Hit The Trail and Get Out And Go as they were coming down. They hiked up the ridge and descended into the meadow for the night. They also went up to the Entiat Crest. They verified that we would soon be reaching plenty of snow on the ridge to allow water if we camped there. Views out to Glacier Peak, and other peaks kept improving. We were also able to see south to Mt. Daniel and Mt. Rainier. Really nice.

As we approached Pt. 6763 we found a pretty good campsite but chose to go on. The trail contours to the left of the point dropping some and climbing back to the ridge. Some flowers here and many more coming. This slope is grassy meadow and gets a lot of sun. Back on the ridge we found another good campsite candidate. We went a little farther but backtracked to that spot. Enough room for two tents with a solid snowbank alongside. Great mountain views from camp. This was at about 6500'. We had thought about climbing up to the Entiat Crest at 7400' to camp but it was already afternoon and too hot to enjoy toting overnight packs up there.

We set up camp and headed on up the ridge. Most all of the ridge still has snow. There were a few bare spots and some spots where you could walk alongside the snow. For the most part we trudged up the snow. Of course as with most ridges there were ups and downs along the way. Garland Peak had been in sight since our campsite and it was a tempting goal. Bob and Kolleen had already been up it so they did not have a burning desire to return. Our pace was glacial up the snowy ridge. High up the narrow ridge broadened into a steeper snowfield and we put on microspikes to improve traction. Nice but not necessary.

At the top the flat ridge was mostly bare. Bare and very windy. The cold was welcome but very cold. I headed over to a high point on the ridge to Garland and Bob and Kolleen soon followed. Their chihuahuas need parkas first. The small dogs did the whole 4000' climb. Great views from our perch. The trees on and below this point were largely larch. Nice late fall color. The precipitous north side of Garland was in site. Unfortunately the map showed a 300' drop and 525' climb to get over there. The late afternoon heat made it seem like not such a good idea. We also had a great view of the Devil's Smokestack. That too would have to await another day. We had a nice stay as the wind and elevation made for less bugs than at camp. At 4:20 we reluctantly headed back to camp.

The trip down was as much fun as the trip up was a slog. I plunge stepped or standing glissaded much of it. Rather than detour onto dirt we went most all the way down on snow. Fast and easy. We arrived back at camp at about 5:00 pm. DEET helped but more clothing helped more. At least we had the snow bank to cool us off. Bob had placed a black garbage sack on the snow with a pile of snow on it. A pot sat on the ground below. It worked great and we had a full pot of water for dinner without wasting stove fuel. We stayed up until dark which was much later than in Seattle. I turned in well past 9:00 pm and it was not yet totally dark.

I woke up in time to head outside for photos of the morning sun on the mountains. Sunrise and sunset views and photos from high in the mountains are a real treat. We were packed up and on the trail by 9:00 am and in just under two hours were back at the car. Sunday would be a much warmer day and the relatively cooler morning hiking was much appreciated. Still felt awfully warm to me. This was a great first summer backpacking trip. We saw only two other people, had sunny skies both days, enough water to camp on a soon to be barren ridge, and plenty of exercise. My GPS logged 9.50 miles with 4000' of elevation gain including ups and downs. My first visit to Basalt Ridge but not my last.

Trail Pair's NWHikers Trip Report & Photos

Queen's Cup
Busy Bears
Silver Crown
First Peak Views
Mt. Daniel
Climbing Higher
Glacier Peak
Snow On Ridge
Ridge Is Ahead
Traversing Pt. 6763
Heading To Crest
Onward & Upward
Rampart In Sight
Bob Near The Crest
Our Route From Camp
Devils Smokestack
Clark Mountain
Glacier Peak From Crest
Garland Peak
Rampart Mountain
Clark To Glacier
Afternnon Light On Clark
Our Route Down
Trail Pair Descending
Mt. Maude
Kolleen On Ridge
Indian Paintbrush
Snag Against Blue Sky
Sunset Behind Glacier
Clark Sunset
Final Sunset Shot
Darknesss At Camp
Morning Light On Clark
Morning Glacier
Leaving Camp
Log Across Trail
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2011