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Trip Report

Goat Lake #647, MacIntosh Falls — Friday, Jul. 25, 2008

Cadet Peak reflected in Goat lake
Goat Last 7/262008 “Goat Lake I miss you !” So starts my trail report of May 17,2003. A freak snowstorm stopped me then. Floods and landslides completed the job of keeping me away for the next 5 years. This time everything was perfect, it was my best Goat Lake hike ever. Could you be a tree hugger? Do you love big old cedars ? Do you like the smell of the forest ? Is the roar of the river music to your ears ? Are the greens of the mosses, ferns, and shrubs soothing to your eyes ? Are you delighted when you find small deep forest flowers at trailside ? Are you fascinated with the dance of the waves in the river rapids and the play of sunlight on the pools and cascades ? Do you like the gentle bounce of fir needles underfoot as you pad through the forest ? All of the above are found in abundance on the approach to Goat Lake. Approaching the wilderness boundary the trail passes through a grove of ancient old cedar (Thuja Plicata - Pacific Red Cedar). Big trees, little trees, huge trees (8 foot diameter), stumps, Siamese twin trees, nurse logs with new trees starting, downed timber, snags, rotting logs, with a little Devils Club and Huckleberry thrown in. Some trees have broken tops, some have dead tops, a few are perfectly symmetrical. Sunrays come through the gaps keeping the forest floor light, but still in shade. The last 1/2 mile before Goat Lake is reached is a moderately steep climb and parallels McIntosh Falls. Many if not most hikers miss seeing these magnificent falls since they are not marked or advertised. Elliot Creek drops 200 to 300 feet as it leaves Goat Lake in 3 main sections: Upper, Middle and Lower McIntosh falls. There is no place from which one can see the entire drop which is spread over about 1/4 mile. Start looking when you hear the roar and your altimeter shows about 2800 ft. At the first right angle switchback to the left (the old mining wagon road) stop and then go right. You have to climb over a few logs. This is the lower falls and the path leads to a neat pool right at the base. We spent about 20 minutes here. It was wonder- ful! At the next switchback to the left again go right. This is the middle falls overlook. It has more downed timber blocking the way close to the water. Continuing up past the last switchback the trail comes to the Upper Falls right at the lake outlet. Elliott Creek is really a river, fed from the snows and glaciers of the peaks surr- ounding Goat Lake. It is delightful as it flows right next to the trail lower down. Up here it is all thunder and fury. We saw tents in the forest as we topped out on the trail and then entered the lake basin. At first just the end of the lake appeared and then sudd- enly the whole thing opened up in splendor and beauty. Huge glacier topped peaks towering high above a perfect aquamarine lake, snowfields and lacey waterfalls on the mountainsides , shore side forests and meadows : it was so good ! We spent 2 1/2 hours at the lake admiring, relaxing, and exploring. I tried unsuccessfully to spot the old ‘Penn Mining Co.’ works on the cliffs of Cadet peak. Cadet and Foggy peaks rise to over 7000 ft. The lake shore is only 3100. The camping area knoll where the old mine headquarters and hotel stood is now covered with a substantial grove of firs. The log jam at the lake outlet was fun to explore. It gives a different mountain and lake view. There are huge trees in this jam, likely from avalanches past. The lake was calm and oh so clear, shades of deep blue, green and turquoise. A few fish jumped to ripple the surface. We tried to move 1/4 mile east down the lake shore to a rock platform in front of a wispy waterfall (an outstanding vista lunch spot) but were stopped by brush and a huge log. On the way back we took the alternate Upper Elliott Creek trail from the junction. It has 4 tiny waterfalls and views of Sheep Mtn as scenic high points. It’s easier walking but longer than the Lower trail by the “creek” that we took coming up. It was a very good flower day. I counted 19 varieties in bloom. Some of the best were Columbia Lily, Twinflower, Coralroot, Queens Cup, Wild Ginger, Canadian Dogwood, and Small Flower Penstemon. My Mountaineers companions Susan,Cathy, Vivi, Jen, Alice & Sheri were an outstanding group. They kidded me about leading only women this time. I just enjoyed the group camaraderie and shared my naturalist and historical knowledge of the area. We stopped to admire all good things. Satistics: 11.5 miles total including side trips 1300 ft. rise 68 degree high temperature , light breeze from the west, 10 mile visibility. 7 miles of unpaved forest road driving 72 miles from my north Seattle home. Robert Michelson
Right Hand lower MacIntosh Falls
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