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Trip Report

Chain Lakes Loop — Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019

North Cascades
nicer stretch of packed snow on trail at sunrise

I did this loop clockwise this time. I started in the dark on the closed road which near the gate varied from clear asphalt to black ice on asphalt to very slick packed snow. At the summer visitor center lot I headed up the Wild Goose Trail which was mostly covered with slick packed snow full of post holes. The trail from the Artist Point parking lot back to the trailhead was fantastically scenic and there was a wonderful sunrise. However, the trail itself was a confounding mix of bare trail, very slick, worn out packed snow and a few short stretches of super slick gray ice (including one gray ice patch close to the Bagley trailhead). The only fairly long stretches of packed snow were near the Ptarmigan Ridge trail junction and the Herman Saddle. [To anyone wondering about Ptarmigan’s conditions, I went down into it a little way and found only one snowshoer and dog tracks breaking the trail and snowshoes were necessary (which I did not bring as they are not needed for the loop). Beyond the basin, the route ahead (beyond the small campsite above the basin) appeared unbroken and eventually, to me at least, virtually unpassable.] Retreating back to the loop, much of the trail goes back and forth between packed snow and bare trail. Descending from Herman Saddle, the trail is essentially snow free once your about 100 feet above the lake elevation. In this stretch are a couple of short gray ice patches near water sources.

small tarn about midway up to Herman Saddle
tiny patch of fall color
Shuksan from saddle