Ingalls Creek (May 19, 2013)

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ingalls_ck_coverConditions: Day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Blewett
Area: Wenatchee
Reference: 100 Hikes in Washington's Alpine Lakes
Stats: 9mi, 1226' gain (round trip), 5hrs up, 3h40m down

What to do? Hawkins Mtn in marginal weather on Saturday or Sunday...head east and further north to a better weather forecast? A message from Jim...what are your plans...want to do Ingalls Creek.

So off we went. Bright and early. Jim up at the crack of dawn and meeting me at the Monroe Smokestack at 6am. We wanted and early start so we could hike at last in to the Falls Creek Trail junction.

We arrived at the TH at about 8am and counted the cars...24. Wow...going to be a busy day on the trail. Good thing for the early start to beat most of the crowds.

The trail is easy, gaining just under 1700' to our turnaround which was about 1.75mi from the Falls Creek junction.

The trail gains a bit of elevation steadily. Never really steep and never for all that long. Sometimes right next to the creek. Other times well above it. The roar of the creek is ever present. Ingalls Creek is in my top 5 most scenic creeks. I don't mean the trail along the creek...I mean the creek itself. It's gorgeous. It always seems to be cranked high with water. The boulders strewn about it's course adding terraces for the water to cascade over...well it just doesn't get much better than this (one of my other favorites is Boulder River).

Lots of people out and about but all in campsites in the first few miles. We encountered a small group of scouts(?) hiking out pretty early. Wow...such a nice day...I'd lounge around in camp and hike out late in the afternoon.

The flowers start out early...mariposa lilies, some balsamroot, paintbrush, lupine, woodland stars... Further in calypso orchids, shooting stars, ballheaded waterleaf, oregon anemones, arnica, trillium... No glacier lilies though...saw 3 but the rest were crispy. Peak flower season looks like it was 1 week ago.

The mid portion of the trail is pretty interesting. I told Jim I thought the north side was very enchantment-like (lots of big granite boulders, etc). The south side of the creek had the typical debris flows you see all over the Teanaway. Makes me want to pull out my geology book to find out if the creek is along a fault like separating two geologic areas.

We never really did see the crowds we were expecting. The whole day...maybe 8 other hikers. Most of the campers had packed up and left by the time we passed campsites on the way out.

Snow is gone along the trail. Not even one patch all the way up to our turnaround point. Couple of sucking mud holes though. Miss-stepped into one and almost lost a boot.

Bugs...couldn't believe it but got bit twice by biting black flies at our turnaround spot. I hope it's not going to be a bad bug season.

Lots of trees down along the trail. Most easy enough to step over. A few required either a butt scoot under or an awkward crawl over. The rest had new social trails beat in get around the trees. I'd venture maybe a dozen trees down that need to be cut out.

Dogs: When we arrived back at the TH I wanted to check out any postings on the sign about dogs. I wasn't sure what he regulations were. I'd heard no dogs allowed but we saw several on the trail. Friends of mine were even *sure* dogs weren't allowed. Well the sign was about as clear as mud to me. They were allowed but only between Turnpike Creek and Stuart Pass? They were allowed along the creek within a 50 foot corridor? Confusing. I got home and shot an email off to the district ranger. I heard back really fast (thanks John) and here was the response:

"It is my understanding that the Ingalls Creek Trail is completely open to dogs for its entire length. The confusion comes in the stretch between Turnpike Creek trail junction and Stuart Pass. We have a legal closure prohibiting dogs in the Enchantments and Ingalls Lake/Headlight Basin as you know. This is a special order based on a mapped area and not delineated by specific trails. The area as drawn is a big blob (polygon) that includes Headlight Basin/Ingalls Lake watershed: with the borders along Ingalls Peaks/Stuart Pass ridge and Turnpike Cr/North Fork Teanaway divide E/NE of Longs Pass. The blob crosses the Ingalls Creek Trail between Turnpike Cr Trail junction and Stuart Pass. It then heads uphill toward the Stuart crest and encompasses the Enchantment Permit Area. Thus, the Trailhead sign is intended to state that dogs are legal in the area the sign describes, in addition to, being legal for the entire length of the rest of the Ingalls Creek trail. In other words, Hikers/Horse riders (with dogs) on the Ingalls Creek Trail donít have to stop and turn around at the edge of the blob when their intention is not to go to Ingalls Lake or over the ridge to the Enchantment permit area. They are permitted to continue up the trail within the described corridor."

(If I can find a map with this polygon on it...I'll link to it.)
Ingalls Creek Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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