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Glacier Peak Wilderness

August 2008: A multi-day backpacking trip in the Glacier Peak Wilderness

Into the Wild
The Glacier Peak Wilderness is at the heart of one of one of the most wild and rugged areas in the lower 48 US states. In the past few years, a number of access roads have washed-out, essentially expanding the wilderness character. In the winter and spring, the thick snowpack sails down steep cliffs and often pulverizes swathes of trees. This avalanche debris field covered a short section of the Indian Creek Trail.
Approaching White Pass
Above 5~6000ft of elevation, the trees give way to lush alpine meadows. These fast-growing and colorful plants have only a few months to live their lives before the winter snows once again blanket them.

In the distance White Mountain rises above White Pass along the Pacific Crest Trail.
Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail traverses along miles of alpine meadows toward Red Pass, at an elevation of 6500ft.
Western Anenome
These soft bearded stalks are actually the seed form of an early-blooming alpine flower. The furry heads are quite soft, and nicknamed bottlebrush.
Sloan Peak
Distinctive Sloan Peak dominates the western horizon, as seen in the evening from near White Pass.
Glacier Peak
At the heart of the Glacier Peak Wilderness is the 10,451ft volcano itself. This wilderness volcano is not easily visible from the lowlands where most people dwell. It's one sight you have to work to see.
This unnamed lake below the White Chuck Glacier was just starting to melt. Later in the season, it will sit on a desolate plain of volcanic rock.
Back to Red Pass
Red Pass is the notch in the ridge to the right of center in this photo. The Pacific Crest Trail goes over Red Pass, and twists down the valley seen in this photo.
On the Crest
This section of the Pacific Crest Trail has been effectively closed for the past few years, ever since a large footbridge over the Suiattle River washed away. During times of high flow, that river can be dangerous to cross at the old location. The nearest access roads to this bridge were also damaged by storms, making it very difficult to remedy the situation.
Flowers and Sun
This is a place where insects, birds and marmots live a brief idyllic summer life - feasting on the explosion of warmth and color.
Color Dots
This is a view up at some of the many alpine flowers covering the slopes of White Mountain.
This grouse was keeping watch a group of chicks who'd just learned to fly. Certainly it's not so easy to keep a wandering group of young ones out of trouble.
Localized summer showers are common in these mountains. A heavy mist came down, covering everything with a dusting of silvery droplets.
A Niche
This mushroom was sprouting out of the bottom of a decaying old log. Those who think that a toppled tree has ended its life in the forest haven't considered the myriad of lifeforms that live only on these fallen giants.
At Camp
A fire helps dry things out... and keeps the bugs at bay!

Where is it?

Glacier Peak is located in the North Cascade Mountains of Washington State, northwest of the town of Wenatchee.

Before you go...
Keep in mind that a number of trailheads (mostly on the western side) are not easily accessible due to the past few years of flooding. Plans are in place to fix the roads, and the Pacific Crest Trail, but funding might be another matter.

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