Ranking: 3/5 The main focus of this hike was to peak bag Summit Chief, but the snow conditions, and the lack of us being able to find an appropriate route other than up steep snow fields kept us from our goal. Most of the hike here was below tree line, so we did not get long distance views until we reached the tarns near Summit Chief. Then, the views were first rate, across to Chimney Rock, the ridgeline of Lemah Mt, and of course, Summit Chief. Still, it seemed a long time was spent in the woods on good trails, though the descent down to Pete Lake was steep, rocky, and dusty. If not trying to reach the mountain, this hike may be a bit long to be enjoyable.
Difficulty: 7/10 Getting to Summit Chief Mountain is challenging, as it’s many miles in to reach a good base camp for the night. Vista Lakes, (the small tarns at the base) make a good base camp, but the trail here is long. Reaching the summit is challenging as well, especially on a heavy snow year, might require ice ax and crampons. (at least, IMHO, these would have been essential on our trip), and good scrambling skills to reach the summit. The trails are good, but again, its a long way out, 12.6 to do the complete loop, and 11.8 one way if you use the way in as a return route.
Getting there: Head north on I-405N towards Bellevue, and take exit 11 to I-90E to Spokane. Travel 70.5 miles to exit 80, Roslyn/Salmon La Sac. Once off the freeway, turn left, and drive 2.1 miles to your first traffic circle, and continue straight through another .7 miles to the next traffic circle, where you will turn left onto 903N towards Roslyn. Follow 903N through Roslyn and Ronald, for another 15.5 miles to FSRD 46, where you will turn left and cross a bridge over the Cle Elum River. (You will notice that about 4 miles outside Roslyn that the road becomes Salmon La Sac Road). Travel 4.7 miles on RD46, then take a right onto FSRD 4616. This road will run alongside Cooper Lake, then end at the trailhead in about 4 miles.
Maps: Alpine Lakes Wilderness by ALPS, and TOPO.com, as well as Green Trails #208 Kachess Lake, and #176 Stevens Pass.
Permits: 5$ per vehicle per day, or a Northwest forest Pass to park at the trailhead.
Summit Chief/Escondido Lake Loop Added 11-6-2011
Another glorious summer weekend of weather!!! The forecast is for hot and sunny the entire time we’re to be on the trail, and it’s more than I could have hoped for when we were mired in the midst of the coldest spring on record, it seemed then impossible that we could get so lucky to string together so many sunny weekends for our hiking trips, but…Here we are!
“…Talk is limited on the way there, as it’s nearly impossible to hear one another over the roar of rushing wind as it blows through the open windows at 70mph…”
Dan and Brian will join Greg and I on this trek, so the 4 of us pile in the Tahoe, (with broken AC, I might add), on a hot and sunny Thursday and head for Cooper Lake CG, our first stop on our journey. Talk is limited on the way there, as it’s nearly impossible to hear one another over the roar of rushing wind as it blows through the open windows at 70mph. That’s the speed limit on I-90…After finding a great spot at Cooper Lake, and setting up camp for the night, we travel back into Cle Elum for dinner, and find a nice place called Beau’s Pizza and Pasta where we get a good meal.
“…As many times as the dog’s name was used, you would think I could remember his name, but I don’t…”
Back at camp, we sit around a campfire, and listen to the antics of our nearest neighbor, a dad, his young son, and their dog. As many times as the dog’s name was used, you would think I could remember his name, but I don’t. The boy was full of questions, and some were quite hilarious to us, but only because we didn’t have to provide the answers. At one point during the evening, the dog made a jailbreak, the son (remember, we could hear all the conversation) was supposed to be the guard, but he let the dog slip by, through the open tent door, and made a mad dash to anywhere but there. It was one of the rare times when the animal didn’t make a sound, and they had a hard time locating him in the darkness of night. They finally found him, and set about once again trying to pump up the air mattress. For almost an hour, we could hear the whine of a battery powered pump going…It was speculated that perhaps there were two valves on the mattress, and perhaps one of them had not been closed….I’m just saying…The fire burned down, so we headed off to bed.