Thorp Mountain Lookout (Jun 22, 2013)

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thorp_mtn_lo_coverConditions: Day hike
Gear: microspike (not really needed)
Map: USGS Kachess Lake
Area: Cle Elum
Reference: 100 Hikes in Washington's Alpine Lakes
Stats: 8.2
mi, 2397' gain (round trip)

Wow time does fly. I've had this trip on my mind for a while. I wanted to return. I just didn't realize it's been so long since I was up there last. The last time, October 2003.

Dani and I chatted, where to go. We thought of heading east. I suggested Thorp so off we went. Athena the wonderdog joined us :)

We drove north on Salmon la Sac Road to the end of Cle Elum Lake. Just at the end of the lake, we took a left onto French Cabin Road (4308) and then right on 4312. Then, we looked for a gate on the right (4312-121). The road is gated (wouldn't be drivable even if it wasn't). We parked in on of the wide spots in the road and headed up the road towards the trail. There is a minor creek crossing just after the gate. About 2/10 later is a "road" junction, go left (west). The road is no in great shape. Looks like it takes a lot of abuse from water draining. Walk the road 2/10 mile and the trail takes off on the left (the bad road forks off to the right).

Once off the road the trail is much more scenic. It's pretty flat and is in an out of the trees. The day was starting out warmer than expected so I really liked the shade.

At about 1.4mi from the car the trail starts a reasonable climb uphill. Generally the trail is in good shape. There are a couple of short sections where it looks like a creek used the trail as a pathway downhill. At about 2.5mi from the car is the junction with Thorp Lake, we talked of doing this short jaunt later in the day. We continued up to the lookout. At about the 3mi mark, we hit the junction with the Kachess Ridge trail and headed left, southwest. Below this junction there was very little snow. Above the junction the snow was much more consistent. At first it was easy to follow the trail, then at about the 3.2mi mark, we lost the trail under the snow. We knew we were near the junction. So, uphill we headed aiming for the saddle. We eventually "found" the trail just below the saddle and then continued on uphill. From the saddle to the lookout site, the trail is near snow free.

We found a small group sitting atop the lookout when we arrived. We found a nice clump of rocks nearby for a lunch spot. A few smaller groups arrived after us. Overall, the trip saw much fewer hikers than expected. I suppose when the trail is near snow free the whole way, it will be quite crowded.

Lots of flowers starting to come out along the trail. Much more than I expected.

Views over to Stuart and the Enchantments, Lemah and Chimney Rock, Hibox and Alta...Daniel...really nice....

Then eventually time to head down. On the way out we stopped at Thorp Lake. Once camper here spending the night. Athena has some fun playing fetch with a stick throw into the lake. The shores of Thorp Lake are well melted out. Lots of really nice looking campsites here.

We timed the trip well, a few rain drops on the car on the drive out.

More information on the lookout: This current lookout is a gable-roofed L-4 cab built in 1930. It is occassionally staffed. Extensive maintenance was done in about 2008. It is on the National Historic Lookout Register.
 
Thorp Mountain Lookout Slideshow

thorp_mtn_lo_map
(click on map to view a larger version)

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