Lyman Lakes, Glacier Peak Wilderness, WA

May 3, 2018
Sorry for no highlight video. I've been strapped on time, I'll get one out eventually.

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.
Looking back down from where came. The rock feature on the left has a route to avoid the snowfield but if you're in good shape it's quicker just doing the snowfield. We were slipping a bit but we brought yaktraks and the second we put them on we were solid.

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.
I scouted ahead on that rock feature route down to the saddle CG, it was beautiful and more scenic than the Spider route(Mt Dumbell was imposing all over me) plus the view of the colorful Phelps Creek Basin. BUT, it was indeed quicker to just use the snowfield. We elected to do that as we were sore and hungry and just wanted to sit down, something we haven't done all day.

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!


Oct 30, 2016
Beautiful area and pics.

Grav filter is mankind’s greatest acheivement...


Aug 18, 2018
Wow! Jaw-dropping photos. Beautiful fall scenery. I love the picture of the two of you sitting down for dinner, awesome view! The cascade photos with the blue lake and all the red fall colors, wow.... and I thought 1,000 ft in 1 mile was considered steep, but you two did 3,000 ft over 1.2 miles (6,336 feet)- ouch!
Are you both still sore? Great report- thanks for sharing. Sorry about the flat air mattress, bummer.
Last edited:
May 3, 2018
Wow! Jaw-dropping photos. Beautiful fall scenery. I love the picture of the two of you sitting down for dinner, awesome view! The cascade photos with the blue lake and all the red fall colors, wow.... and I thought 1,000 ft in 1 mile was considered steep, but you two did 3,000 ft over 1.2 miles (6,336 feet)- ouch!
Are you both still sore? Great report- thanks for sharing. Sorry about the flat air mattress, bummer.

Haha thanks! Yeah we were pretty sore the day after. Due to our wedding/family obligations this summer we weren't in the shape we usually are this time of year. Last years Glacier Peak trip we did 20.3 miles and 6800feet gain in a day. 'twas rough.


Hiker Trash
Jan 4, 2015
Dang. This TR has me way more stoked on the PNW than I was previously. Great photos, great trip, great time of year. Thanks so much!
Mar 18, 2014
Dang. This TR has me way more stoked on the PNW than I was previously. Great photos, great trip, great time of year. Thanks so much!

Yeah, wow! That sure is some color! I'd love to check this place out someday. I spent some time in Washington state and around every corner was mystified at how beautiful it is, and this is just one more example. Great photos!
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