- May 3, 2018
This was a 3 day 2 night trip into GPW in the southern part of the North Cascades Sept 27-30.
We left after work on Thursday and drove up Stevens Pass US-2 toward Phelps Creek TH where we front country camped at a site just 3 miles from the Trailhead. The weather forecast was good but wasn't too favorable for Sunday morning as it called for snow (which thankfully we never got). Our intention was Phelps Creek TH to Spider Meadows then up Spider Gap and use a "route" atop Spider Glacier to the gap where we would drop down and base camp at Upper Lyman Lake.
So we set off bright and early friday morning!
The first 5~6 miles were a gradual 1300ft gain and pretty unremarkable until we hit Spider Meadows where it opened up with Red Mountain and Chiwawa towering over the fields and fall colors coming in full bloom (almost!).
The meadows resident bear wasn't present for this trip
We crossed the meadows and started heading to the Spider Gap turnoff.
Once we hit the spider gap turn off we started to climb fast... Over the next 1.2 miles we'll gain close to 3000 feet in elevation. (from base to the gap)
This is the view on our way up of where we came from.
The trail levels out a little near the saddle where there was a cool rock and drainage feature. We loved this area so much that we wish we had more time to camp there. There was a nice CG up around the area with pikas protesting it's presence.
From there we start up Spider Glacier...
Spider Glacier is not a glacier anymore but a long snowfield. I don't know when the glacier got dead though.
Lacey and I keep on climbin' higher and higher.
On our approach we thought we saw the top and got all excited. It turns out it was A FALSE SUMMIT. MORE WALKING.
NOW we finally made it to the top of the gap! We were greeted by the massive lonely mountains of Glacier Peak Wilderness. Chiwawa, Plummer, Sitting Bull, Sinister, Gunsight, Cloudy and North Star Mountain with the biggest boy of the show (Bonanza) off camera right.
Upper Lyman lake had a perfect light blue color.
Last look back at the big boys who have been watching over us the whole trip. Fernow and Seven Fingered Jack. We begin our descent to our campsite with 6 hours to spare (of daylight)!
After exploring a bit we found our favorite campsite.
With day 1 coming to a close we started to wander around at sunset to catch any cool things we could see as Saturdays forecast it would be too rainy/cloudy for colors.
Lyman Glacier on Chiwawa Mountain
I was giddy! My first sight ever of Bonanza peak, so many times looking at it in pictures this year and now I finally see it. The tallest non-volcanic peak in Washington. Though, it's local relief isn't as impressive as other washington 9ers (Jack & Goode both have local reliefs larger than the Grand Tetons) it's more in line with washington's Mt. Stuart @ 5800ft local relief. It is a very beautiful and towering mountain despite the "numbers".
The beautiful Isella Glacier in view on Bonanza. My last view before the clouds took her from me.
Out of all my star gazing this year (even in the 0.0 LP pasayten) I saw the most shooting stars and satellites on this trip. The basin started to turn into a hardcore windtunnel when the moon slowly started to crest the mountains and ruined the star gazing so we retreated to our tent for a good nights sleep...
Except for the fact our sleeping pad now HAS A HOLE IN IT AND WE HAD NO PATCH KIT. So we had lots of tossing and turning on the hard rocky ground trying to use our clothes to soften up our hip/shoulder areas.
Day 2 we just explored around with some windy weather.
Lyman Lake! (Lower Lyman Lake) and a giant Cascade!
We wanted to get back at a decent time on Sunday and avoid the awful US-2 traffic we normally don't deal with. Plus we didn't' want to go back over the gap while it was snowing since the impending snow was incoming (which it didn't, just rain). So we went back over the gap later on Day 2 to that cool campground we saw on the saddle.
Lacey climbin' back up to the gap.
DINNER TIME at our saddle CG! Yes, sleeping that night still sucked with the flat air mattress. One thing I loved on this trip though is I abandoned the pump water filter for a gravity filter and I LOVE IT. So much excess water for such minimal work!
The rain rolled in at 6pm and the sound of it hitting the tent helped me sleep at least.
Day 3 was a chilly morning, the sunrise tried to wake us but ultimately got taken over from the rain/clouds. It was dry from 7am to when we got back to our truck at 10am. THEN it started raining again.
I loved the area and strongly am considering using this place as part of the loop I'm planning for next years back country post trip I'm going to attempt to organize!