I'm not really sure how neither my husband nor I had ever done this hike before. It's definitely a classic and we really enjoyed it. Saturday morning we settled on this hike because it has the elevation gain without the steepness. This late into mountaineering season we didn't want something that would get us injured. Marmot Pass is perfect for the gain without the knee pain. The clouds didn't deter very many people, and the campsites at least at Camp Mystery were crowded, as we expected on a holiday weekend. The presence of the rain shadow probably funneled more people there as well. The snow near the trail is completely gone. We brought our ice axes for any lingering snowfields on the way to Buckhorn Mountain but we had no need for them. Just a quick use of hands up to the summit closest to Marmot Pass, which our mountaineering guide lists as the tallest of the arêtes. The trail is in amazing shape. I would add a warning that we noticed several tickets on cars that did not have a valid pass displayed, and one truck with an expired pass was even ticketed. It's not incredibly well signed but the Big Quilcene trailhead does require a forest pass or federal lands pass.
Trails for everyone, forever