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Pacific Crest (North Cascades) Snowy Lakes #2000;

Sep 07, 2008

by Eric de Place last modified Jun 02, 2010 10:36 AM
Type of Outing
Day hike
Read More in our Hiking Guide
Hike: Golden Horn - Snowy Lakes (PCT)
Region: North Cascades -- North Cascades Highway
Agency: Okanogan National Forest - Methow Valley Ranger District
Trails: PCT (#2000)
Avg Rating: 3.33

Sept 5 - 7, 2008

I took a solo trip up to Snowy Lakes, leaving out of Rainy Pass. The PCT is in excellent shape -- with the exception of one log across the trail about 1 mile north of Rainy Pass and a few eroded spots between Granite Pass and the Snowy Lakes turnoff. The side trail up to Snowy Lakes is pretty badly eroded and starting to generate a web of social trails. I realize this isn't a formal trail, but it's pretty heavily used and should probably be made official.

Sept 5: Took a day off work and hit the trail at Rainy Pass around 10 a.m. in damp, foggy weather. Ran across two parties just below Cutthroat Pass, both heading out, who had been in awful weather the night before. I forged on, ate a chilly lunch at the pass, then continued in clouds and fog north to the Snowy Lakes turnoff, which I almost missed because I could see only a few feet in any direction. The hike up to the lakes is enough to break a sweat. I ended up camping at Upper Snowy Lake at a nice site above the lake on the left. Heavy cloud layer about 100' above the lake and incredibly still air; quite possible the quietest place I've ever experienced. Not a sound.

Sept 6: Intermittent rain during the night, I woke up to ice on the rain fly and stunning blue skies. What a scene. The lakes are beneeath Golden Horn, Tower Mountain, and Mount Hardy. After breakfast I ""scrambled"" (aka ""followed the bootpath"") up over the western ridges and made my way overland to Methow Pass, then scrambled up the flanks of Mt Hardy a ways, but didn't try to summit. Eventually I just sat and ate lunch as the day oscillated between sunny and cloudy. Back to camp via the PCT by 1:00. I spent the rest of a lazy day reading by the lake, drinking coffee and eating all my snacks.

Sept 7: Woke up to picture perfect fall weather (and a bit of ice on the tent too); cloudless blue skies and more extensive views than Saturday. Just wonderful. Reluctantly, I packed up and took a slow hike out; found myself grinning constantly at the sheer beauty and stillness of everything. Scarcely anyone about and the September weather hikers dream of: 70 degrees, a faint chill in the breeze, and the North Cascades peaks in every direction. Finally started seeing people at Cutthroat Pass and then down below on the way back to the trailhead.

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