Icicle Ridge Lookout (May 31, 2014)

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icicle_ridge_lo_coverConditions: Day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Chiwaukum Mountain
Area: Leavenworth
Reference: Day Hiking Central Cascades
Stats: 12mi, 4997' gain (round trip)

This was a return trip to Icicle Ridge an the lookout for me. Last trip was same week last year. I'm going to have to make this an annual trip. It's such a nice trip/trail. Good mileage round trip. Good gain (yeah...my feet hurt after the trip kind of gain) and oh wow...such views and sights...

I got an early start again getting to the TH (2600') just after 7am. The advantage of an early start??? Avoiding the head of the day since the sun doesn't reach this slope until late morning, and...little or NO crowds!

I settled the pack and was on the trail at 7:35am. It was actually a bit chilly. No problem...just keep moving! Temps were expected to reach 82F in Leavenworth so I knew is was going to warm up eventually.

The trail crosses 4th of July creek down low twice. Once at about .25mi and the second time at about .6mi. After this the trail heads up and I mean up...it's relentless. Sometimes it's in forest, sometimes in the open...mostly...it is hot...at least it was today. I'm not a warm weather hiker, I prefer cooler temps. Today it was going to push my comfort level.

The flowers seemed to be a bit past prime down low (later in the season than when I'd done the trip last year). Still, lots of color out...lupine, arnica, balsamroot, spring beauty, Tweedii...pretty much the same as what I'd seen last year).

Up and up and up the trail continued. The last running water source down lower on the trail is at about 2.4mi (4100'). Or course, higher up there is plenty of water (snow or snow melt).

The start of the old burn is at about 3.6mi (5427'). The burn has really opened up the trail...views as far as you can see. The views across the valley off towards Cashmere...wow.

Right at about 4mi (5590') is a nice big rock, a patch of snow, a nice sit rock...it's the perfect place to sit down for a break and a snack. It was about 10:30am when I got here and it was time for food. It was just a short break and them time to get going. I wanted to reach the old LO site by noon. It's right after this break that the trail feels like it moves over onto the other side of the ridge, I got my first views up towards the ridge. It looked about the same as last year for snow...I'd find out soon enough. I was getting close...only about another 1000' gain to reach the former lookout site.

I did hit patchy snow below the ridge but it seemed like less snow that last year. For me, the snow below the ridge was minor. It was easy to find and stay on the summer trail. I stayed on it hitting the ridge and the trail junction at about 5.9mi (6799'). Then...deeper snow...but nothing bad. It was easy enough to stay on the ridge and head straight for the lookout site. There was definitely less snow than last year. The last 100' or so to the top was near melted out. Last year, that was pretty much all under snow.

There are a couple nice flat spots below the old lookout site, I got comfortable on the one in the sun (about 6.2mi from the TH) and had the site to myself for near and hour. Then...with some voices heading up from below, it was time to pack up and head down.

I'm glad for the early start. I wouldn't say the trail was swarming with people but I did pass about a dozen on my way down.

Looks like the trail has been recently cleared. There were several small blow downs/deadfall down across the trail this year. Those and some newer ones higher up are cleared. Some look to have been sawed out recent since the sawdust is still there at the cut end of the logs.

More info on the lookout: This former LO was established as a camp in 1914, replaced with a D-6 cupola in 1929 but was then destroyed by a fire in 1966.
Icicle Ridge LO Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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