Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Icicle Ridge

This weekend I took a short break from climbing and hiked the Icicle Ridge trail in Leavenworth. I was well overdue for a solo hike and was grateful for the solitude. After starting up the giant hill from the trailhead near town in the late afternoon on Friday, I hit the top of the ridge after about an hour and a half. I continued to climb along the ridge for a couple more miles, passing two parties and a gigantic black bear, who ran away like a big furry wimp. Once reaching the crest of the ridge, I hiked for a few miles through wide-open alpine meadows, alternating between expansive views of the Tumwater and Icicle canyons. It was a trip to look way down on Punk Rock, which feels like the top of the world when you're there. I found a nice spot a mile or two before the Fourth of July trail and camped for the night, enjoying a small campfire and the untainted stars...

In the morning I woke to thousands of misquitos and blackflies and decided to get moving. I hiked for a bit to the junction with the Fourth of July trail and continued to the old lookout site, unsure whether to continue for the longer loop I had considered. After hanging out at the top of the ridge for a while, I decided to head downhill to do a bit of climbing and just enjoy myself. I hiked five or so steep and dusty miles down the Fourth of July trail, passing numerous panting, misguided parties tackling the steep hill. I walked three miles up the Icicle to retrieve my bike from Ida Creek, then rode down to my car at the trailhead, stopping at the Sword to do a mini-circuit. The hike was spectacular and well-appreciated, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone considering an impromptu backpacking excursion in Leavenworth. Next time I'll bring some deet and do the 30 mile loop past Lake Augusta and Carter Lake, descending via Chatter Creek.

Here's a picture of a weathered trail junction sign, and the view from of the Stewart Range from the old fire lookout.

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