Cutthroat Pass > Granite Pass (Oct 5, 2014)

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granite_pass_coverConditions: day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Washington Pass
Area: Rainy Pass
Reference: Day Hiking North Cascades
Stats: 13.01mi, 2316' gain (round trip)

I was first up to Cutthroat Pass in Oct-2012. That previous time I'd gone up the lake side. I have been wanting to return and venture further. That last time the new knees were still getting used to being back on steep trails. This time I wanted to time a trip during larch season. I had initially thought of doing the trip as an overnight but finally decided I only had the time for a day trip.

I was up early and on the road before sunrise. It's a long drive from the house, nearly 3 hours. Thankfully I arrived at the Rainy Pass TH (4906') early and got a nice parking spot. I was hiking by 8:30am.

The trail starts out in evergreen forest. The larch trees I'd come to see were higher up. The great thing about this trail is that it is the PCT so I knew I'd have a good grade the whole way up. the advantage of the Rainy Pass TH vs the Cutthroat Lk TH is less miles and less elevation gain to Cutthroat Pass. Up the trail I hiked. I crossed Porcupine Creek the first time at about 1.74mi (5305') and again higher up at about 3.52mi (6147'). I got my first views of the pass and the larches near the head of Porcupine Ck.

It's nice trail. Well graded. Only a couple of stream crossings. Only one slightly mucky spot that I recall.

At the head of Porcupine Creek the views open up and I finally got my close up to the gold I'd come looking for. There are a few switchbacks through the larch trees below the pass. At about 5.06mi (6832') I reached Cutthroat Pass (10:45am). Yep...I'd picked a good day for my trip. Clear blue skies. Golden larches. Warm weather (near 60F)...it felt more like August than October. I thought to myself...I'm hiking in golden larch country in shorts.

I took a quick break at the pass and then continued north on the PCT to Granite Pass. This was new trail for me...gosh it is gorgeous! Beautiful rocks. Painted hillsides. Far off peaks. It just doesn't get any better. I thought I'd run into lots of crowds on this trip (thru hikers and day hikers) but no...only 3 other people on the trail the whole day. Wow...go figure. I wonder where everyone else went?

It's another 1.46mi to the spot I turned around. I had thought of dropping down to Granite Pass but I liked the views of Tower and Golden Horn that I had from a small bump just above the pass. So I decided this was a good turnaround (11:20am, 6.52mi, 6845'). The weather was perfect. Warm and little wind. I really had a nice long lunch break taking in the views.

About noon I decide it was time to pack up and head back. Lots of photo delays along the way. The colors up along this stretch of the PCT are just perfect. I was back at Cutthroat Pass about 12:45pm and down to the car about 2:45pm.
 
Granite Pass Slideshow

granite_pass_map

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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