June 25th, 2015 in Trips, Trails, & Tours
As I get ready to head out this coming weekend on a backpack, I am reflecting on some of the closer, shorter ridge walks found in the High Camp area. My backpack trip will take me to Ladies Pass and the beautiful ridge walk to the west towards Marys Pass and to the east towards Cape Horn. These three High Camp ridge wanders came to mind: McCue Ridge into the Hanging Gardens, Lonesome Ridge which heads towards Lake Ethel, and the high meadows cirque created by the confluence of McCue Ridge with the Chiwaukums at Tamarack Point, McWaukum and Baldy. All are worthy wanders during your stay at Scottish Lakes. Ridge walks tend to have less water and catch more weather, so come prepared! You will also need the Chiwaukum Mountains Green Trails map #177 and your best navigation skills.
McCue Ridge to the Hanging Gardens: You start by climbing out of High Camp on the Sunset Trail and follow Upper Sunset along McCue Ridge traveling west. This area is particularly interesting since part of it was burned in the Chiwaukum fire last summer. You cross the regular forest service trail at 5900 feet then wander off trail along the broad meadows of the ridge. At 6288 feet you reach the High Point along the ridge and the meadows begin to narrow. You end up walking a knife edge ridge crossing over on both sides as you search for the easiest, safest route. Coming off of the ridge above Lake Donald you head into the beautiful Hangings Gardens which are the gateway to the High Meadows area above the Scottish Lakes.
Lonesome Ridge: This hike has you on trail all the way. You leave High Camp heading to Picnic Point then down into the crossing of Roaring Creek as though you are going to Lake Julius, except after you cross the creek you will head north to Lake Ethel. The Washington Trails Association is planning to improve the crossing of Roaring Creek with a basic log bridge some time this fall. Since this is such a dry year, the crossing should be easy. You climb to the ridge and ramble along with great views to the north! The ridge trail abruptly drops down to Lake Ethel through a gorgeous old growth forest….definitely worth dropping down for.
High Meadows Cirque: You can access this area via McCue Ridge or climb up past Lake Julius and Loch Eileen to the meadows above. This route is entirely off trail and requires a map and good decision making. Begin by climbing up through the rocks to Tamarack Point (6935′). Drop down to the saddle to the west and then catch the faint route up McWaukum (7423′). This peak was named by Bill and Peg Stark for the intersection of McCue Ridge and the Chiwaukum Mountains. Returning towards the saddle, wander the north to Baldy (7132′). Descending from Baldy you enter the Stairway to Heaven, a tumbling brook dropping through the meadows (Don named this area).