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Lake Ann, Esmeralda Basin (Esmerelda), Lake Ingalls, Fourth Creek

Aug 02, 2011

by aeslinger last modified Aug 10, 2011 08:54 AM
Type of Outing
Multi-night backpack
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Hike: Lake Ingalls
Region: Snoqualmie Pass -- Salmon La Sac/Teanaway
Agency: Cle Elum Ranger District (509) 852-1100
Trails: Ingalls Way (#1390)
Avg Rating: 3.98
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Hike: Fourth Creek
Region: Snoqualmie Pass -- Salmon La Sac/Teanaway
Trails: Fourth Creek (#1219)
Avg Rating: 3.25
Read More in our Hiking Guide
Hike: Lake Ann
Region: Snoqualmie Pass -- Salmon La Sac/Teanaway
Avg Rating: 3.00
Read More in our Hiking Guide
Hike: Esmeralda Basin (Esmerelda)
Region: Snoqualmie Pass -- Salmon La Sac/Teanaway
Agency: Okanogan - Wenatchee National Forest - Cle Elum Ranger District
Trails: Esmeralda Basin (#1394)
Avg Rating: 4.36
Why You Should Go Now
Wildflowers blooming
Be Aware Of
Gallagher Head Lake photo by aeslinger
My mom, dad, and I set out on the first Tuesday in August from the Boulder-De Roux trailhead for a four day (3 night) backpacking trip through trails in the Teanaway area. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and the wildflowers were stunning...the most I have ever seen on a hike!

Day 1: We started hiking at 9:30 up boulder-de roux to Gallagher Head Lake, stopping to take pictures in the many meadows. From the lake (which had abundant shooting star blooms along with some mosquitoes) we followed the jeep track for 1-ish miles to the fortune cookie pass trailhead. NOTE: when the jeep track splits (not shown on green trails map) stay to the right, and then continue going downhill after crossing a small stream. After the pass, we took the trail to Lake Ann. Only a small traverse of snow was required, and it was soft and very maneagable. The Lake itself was beautiful, with awesome reflections, meadows, and views. A stream of 10 horses and riders arrived in the evening from the outfitter, but they did a wonderful job of maintaining the peaceful atmosphere :) Mosquitoes were present, but not too worrisome.

Day 2: Starting at 9:30 again, hiked out of Ann and turned left on the Esmerelda Basin trail. Lots more wildflowers, and a beautiful hike in lovely weather. About 1/2 mile from the parking lot, we turned left up trail toward Lake Ingalls (labeled Ingalls Way Trail). Took the hot and exposed trail up to the saddle, then continued over snow (once again soft and easy to follow) towards the lake. The lake is starting to thaw, but the basin is still full of snow. An ice bridge that had been used to circumnavigate the lake on the right broke under a man and his son (neither of whom were hurt) and is no longer safe to use. The left side of the lake basin could be crossed with care, but, not having ice axes and not feeling in the life-risking mood, we descended a ways and camped on some rocks below the lake. We encountered many mountain goats near the lake. At first they had us a bit nervous, but by the end of the night, we realized they were unafraid, but also not agressive. Mosquitoes were rather thick.

Day 3: Broke camp and hiking by 7:11. After a leisurely breakfast in Headlight Basin and many pictures of goats, we decided to hike down the basin to Ingalls Creek Trail. After crossing the river and scouting around a bit, we emerged into the Ingalls Creek Valley. It was STUNNING. Amazing views of Stuart and its meadowed slopes. Wildflowers were everywhere and some almost as tall as me. The trail was very brushy in places, but SO worth it. We hiked a few miles and turned right on the Fourth Creek Trail. We ascended through lovely meadows and forest and LOTS of mosquitoes to the saddle at 5600ft. where we camped. Mosquitoes, mosquitoes, mosquitoes. We ate dinner as we literally ran around camp trying to avoid the voracious bugs and jumped in the tent at 6:30.

*NOTE: If anyone hikes up Fourth Creek Trail, could you please check for my Vibram Five Finger shoes? From the Fourth Creek/Hardscrabble junction, go NW maybe 50-100 yds up a small rise. You may see where we cleared a tent area. The shoes are grey and green and sitting on a tree (probably 4ft. off the ground) 20-ish ft. South of the tent area. You can contact me at Thanks!............

Day 4: For our final day, we skipped breakfast to avoid mosquitoes and started hiking at 7:15. We continued down Fourth Creek Trail, turned Right on trail 1391, and then took a left on Iron Peak trail 1399. Really interesting terrain up to Iron Pass. Lots of green rock and shale. The view from the pass was wonderful (Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams?, the tip of Mt. Stuart, etc. etc.) and the mosquitoes less voracious, so we made coffee and took a rest before the final descent to the North Fork Teanaway road and the walk back to the car.

I was so pleased with the hike! Wildflowers were everywhere (queen anne's lace, shooting starts, penstemon, lupine, wild rose, indian paintbrush, avalanche lillies, and many more), snow was very minimal, and the views were spectacular. The main difficulty were the mosquitoes, but I suppose they are the price you must pay for such glory.
Reflections on Lake Ann at sunset photo by aeslinger
Mountain Goats near Lake Ingalls photo by aeslinger
View from Ingalls Creek Trail photo by aeslinger
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