Monday, June 15, 2009

Ingalls Creek Trail, June 14, 2009

Ingalls Creek (Alpine Lakes Wilderness), June 14, 2009

Twelve of us Mountaineers enjoyed this hike despite the threat of thunderstorms. This hike has a good reputation for wildflowers and the trail did not let us down.

The trail is best described as undulating the first 6 miles to Falls Creek Camp (a good turnaround for a day hike). With ups and downs the trail parallels Ingalls Creek, at times dropping down to the stream to potential campsites and lunch spots. On this sunny Sunday the trail was crowded -- our group added to the “crowd” so I dare not bewail a crowded trail as “we” were part of the problem. Yet the trail is long enough with alluring spurs that even on a busy day, hikers can find a place to be alone to peer at a flower or listen to the chatter of Ingalls Creek.

The flowers: Indian paintbrush (including yellow paintbrush), columbine, thimbleberry, mertensia (bluebells), collomia, balsamroot (almost gone), yarrow, Queens cup, serviceberry, wild rose, pussy-toes, Solomon’s seal, vanilla leaf, larkspur (starting to fade), lupine (lots) and best of all Mountain ladyslipper orchid and lots of mariposa lilies (sometimes called Sego lilies) and honeysuckle.

After thumbing through several field guides I’m still not certain of the “proper” name for this lily so I won’t be offended if an expert corrects me.

In the morning it was hot and humid; “little” uphills felt like “big” uphills. By the time we reached Falls Camp the thunder was booming and rain began to fall. Fortunately it didn’t last long, just long enough to soak the bushes. As the heat returned it felt good to have the wet foliage brush our legs.

About a mile before Falls Camp we noticed that the course of the creek had changed. It looks like last winter – and/or the winter prior was hard on Ingalls Creek. Parts of the creek had moved far away from its original bed and what had once been a creek-bed was a jumble of rocks, roots and a few standing trees.

My memory may not be correct but as I recall the lunch-spot where the Falls Creek trail begins on the other side of Ingalls Creek looked different. Now there is a little beach there rather than the abrupt edge I remember. A large, de-barked log spans the crossing; we could see where the Falls Creek trail began on the other side. It appears to be an extremely risky crossing, especially now as the creek is running high. One slip on the log into the creek would probably be fatal.

It didn’t rain long but it rained hard enough that new puddles had formed on the trail and the muddy sections were a little muddier. Despite the rain, the trail is in great shape at least as far as we hiked.

We hiked 12 miles round trip with 1,450 feet gain according to the GPS.

Getting to the trailhead: From Seattle drive east on I-90 to us 97 (north) and about 12.5 miles north of Blewett Pass turn left on Ingalls Creek Road (signed). Proceed about a mile to the trailhead. Fill out a Wilderness Permit at the trailhead; a Northwest Forest Pass is required. Maps: Green Trails No. 209 Mount Stuart and Green Trails No. 210 Liberty. Allow about 2.5 hours drive-time one-way.

1 comment:

Craig said...

Your flower shots rock, Karen!