Sunday, August 14, 2016

Caddy Ridge & Dishpan Gap

This weekend Emily and I grabbed Eric early on Saturday morning and drove 5 full hours north to the mountains just above Lake Wenatchee in Washington for one of the best overnight hikes I've done in the Northwest.  We had amazing views of Glacier Peak, Rainier and the Washington high peaks, walked through amazing wild flowers and even saw some marmots while camping at a beautiful alpine lake.  Read on to see the pics.

After stopping for some lunch snacks at noon in Lake Wenatchee we made it up the bumpy road to the trailhead (fine for Prius) at around 12:30pm.  After getting our gear ready while fighting off bugs we were on the trail headed up the Little Wenatchee River Valley by 1pm dowsed in Deet and covered in sun screen for what would be a very hot weekend of hiking.  
There were a lot of cars in the parking lot which gave me a little worry about finding a camping site starting so late in the day.

I found this hike originally in my "NW Bible", a guidebook of 1000 hikes in the NW that are rated based on difficulty but more importantly, beauty.   This was a 10/10 for beauty and I've been trying to tick off all the 10's in the book, each one turning out to be simply amazing.  This one was no different, although the non-stop bugs throughout the trip and the excessive weekend heat leaving us drenched in sweat even at 6,000 feet did hinder the experience slightly.  

Although the guidebook had this as a ten the guidebook is also 10+ years old so I look to the Washington Trail Association website for recent trip reports on conditions and every review noted how thick the trail vegetation was heading in along the Little Wenatchee.  

Without many photos of the trail I wasn't sure what that meant but the reports weren't lying.  The trail was so overgrown in places that you could look down and not even see your feet.  Think Jurassic Park running through the tall grass... Thankfully there were no velociraptors.  Looking ahead while taking video and photos all I could see of Eric and Emily for many sections of the trail were just their heads!

Eventually the trail left the valley floor and climbed up to the beautiful Meander Meadows.  We passed by flowers of every color and on the way up to the meadows we snacked on wild blueberries along the trail in short bursts to not stop long enough for the bugs to eat us.  

When we got to the Meadows we took an afternoon break and filled up our water, popping an annoying hole in my Sawyer squeeze bag in the process... Grrrr...  From there it was just a short ways more up to Dishpan Gap and the PCT just below Kodak peak which we decided not to scramble up because it was late in the day and looked steep.

The PCT along the ridgeline was amazing.  No more overgrown trail and views all around us.  To the north we had intermittent views of the massive Glacier Peak and I could clearly see our approach route and summit ski descent line I took just a couple years ago with Brandon.  We could see other snow capped peaks all around us as well.  The geology of these mountains was so much more interesting than that of the Oregon Cascades, far more dramatic with more snow being farther north.  

As we made our way along the ridge we passed a hiker who noted that Lake Sally Anne had a lot of campers at it which worried us about finding a camp site but it instead of rushing we took our time late in the day to enjoy the views while I took advantage of the "golden hour" lighting up the peaks surrounding us with the camera.  

We passed by our descent route, Caddy Ridge, and continued on a quarter mile to Lake Sally Anne where we were lucky enough, after a bit scouting, to find a nice flat spot near the entrance of the lake.  There was a single tent next to us with a guy and little dog who came over to say hi and tell us we were no trouble at all.  

I had packed my bug net, bought for Africa, and Emily and Eric got a kick out of me with it on but it did help with the bugs while setting up the camp.  We had dinner cooking just before sunset and I took the time while my Mountain House was re-hydrating to set up a GoPro timelapse of the sunset and take shots of all the distant peaks which were clearer now than during the mid-day haze.  We could see all the way to Mt. Stewart and the Enchantments to the Alpine Lakes area south of us as well.  Snow-capped peaks everywhere!  

I made nalgene of spiced cider and bourbon I had packed in and we all took our camp chairs to a lookout over the valley below to relax and let the darkness of the wilderness envelop us.  There were meteor showers forecasted for the evening so I set up the DSLR pointing towards the peaks to record a timelapse of the show before heading to bed as well.  

It had been a 10 mile day of hiking so despite my effort trying to keep my eyes open to watch a bit of a movie I pretty much immediately fell asleep.  It had gotten too cold to sit outside and I had packed minimally to save weight and fit all my stuff in my Osprey ski-pack instead of my bigger pack which has grown old since 2007 (need a new bag).  

On Sunday morning we woke up early, relaxed with some coffee and breakfast, whistled back to some marmots up the cliff face above the lake, packed up and headed back down the trail to Caddy ridge for our descent.  To our delight the ridge had even better views of Glacier and the surrounding peaks than the PCT the day before!  Being a ridge we didn't have to deal with an overgrown trail and the bugs were actually less annoying as well with a slight breeze.  On the way down we also got great views of Mt. Rainier towering in the distance while walking through meadow after meadow of beautiful alpine flowers.

Towards the bottom of the ridge the trail got very steep before turning to lengthy switchbacks so by the time we got to the bridge crossing back over the Little Wenatchee and returning us to the trailhead our legs were very tired.  When we got back to the car we were once again drenched in sweat and smelly with a mixture of DEET/BO/sunscreen so we hustled into the car and drove to a bridge over the Wenatchee River for a dip to clean up.  

The water was pretty cold but with the hot sun and the way we felt/smelled it was well worth the dunk into it to clean up.  Lots of tubers were also putting onto the river there around us.  We couldn't go far into the river because the current was pretty strong but it was enough to dip and clean ourselves up.  There was also a very active osprey nest with babies on a pole above the the bridge that we stopped at for some photos before jumping back in the car feeling refreshed.  

We headed across the bridge and had a nice lunch of burgers at the Headwaters Bar and Restaurant in Wenatchee before continuing on the drive home.  Unfortunately, we hit an hour long traffic backup due to an accident on the highway but were still able to make it home before dark, dropping Eric off at his house and fully expecting him to forget something in our car like he usually does (he did)... 

The trip was wonderful and despite the heat and bugs was well worth the drive.  Eric said it might be his favorite trip in the Northwest ever and it was great to have him with us which made the events of the following week even more confusing to Emily and I, but that is a story that is personal and not meant for this blog.  Can't wait to hit our next "10", hopefully with Eric (and Leo maybe) again.

No comments: