The Chikamin Traverse

For years it’s been a line on the map–the stretch of the Pacific Crest trail that goes north from Ridge Lake to Spectacle Divide. Ten scenic miles that I’ve never hiked. This has been my year, and here are the photos to show for it:

Day 1: Fragrant lupines blooming above 5000 feet.
Day 2: Morning light on Alaska Lake.
Day 2: Looking down Gold Creek valley. Glaciers shaped this landscape.
Day 2: Joe Lake, with Huckleberry Mountain and Chikamin Peak.
Day 2: Subalpine garden at Huckleberry Saddle.
Day 2: Climbing up across Chikamin Ridge behind Pam and Sam. The rocks are really interesting. Sedimentary–former seabeds; microcontinents that smashed into the North American plate and rose up as the Cascades.
Day 2: Approaching Watson Pass. Hoary marmots were basking on rocks and poking heads up out of burrows….they were not concerned with us till we flipped a few larger rocks off the trail. Sorry, marmots.
Day 2: The descent to Park Lakes and camp.
Day 3: Drizzle. Ain’t getting dressed for work till I’ve had hot mocha.
Day 3: Climbing to Spectacle Divide, then dropping down to the lake. Drizzle begins to clear. Can see where the Lemah Fire of 2009 burned in the foreground, and the 1994 Escondido Fire in the background.
Day 3: We’re gonna need a bigger saw. And a ladder. Better yet, boom powder.
Day 3: Fireweed in the 2009 burn. So interesting to see the changes. This was a dense silver fir and hemlock forest. Could be a great place to pick huckleberries in a few years.
Day 4: Spent the night along the South Fork of Lemah Creek and the next morning hacked away on some logs. Didn’t finish, so will have to go back. Packed up to hike out. Did not weigh this, afraid to know how heavy.

In all, 33 miles in four days. Moved a lot of rocks, cut some brush and logs. Made copious notes about the work left to do. Started at 3200 feet in elevation, climbed up to 5700 feet, and ended up at 3000 feet. Assisted a backpacker by rigging a litter to carry out her exhausted Labrador retriever the last couple of miles. Re-entered civilization at around 8 PM last night. Had been fantasizing about food and baths for hours.

There’s a tinge of autumn in the high country. A flush of red in the low huckleberries, the gathering of small birds, cold nights. The full moon rises, the season changes.

4 thoughts on “The Chikamin Traverse

  1. Wow thanks deb. I loved the photos and commentary. My name is robin and I am a friend of lynne tolk. I was a forestry major at uw and worked for the Boise national forest for a little while. Long time ago but still love the mountain west. Thanks.

    1. Hi Robin, I’m glad Lynne sent you the link. The mountain west–so many mountains, so little time! I accept that I will never see them all. It’s about exploring the places we can get to…

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