Fortune Ponds (Sep 3-5, 2016)

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fortune_ponds_coverConditions: multi day backpack
Gear: overnight gear
Map:  USGS Captain Point, USGS Benchmark Mtn
Area: Skykomish
Reference: n/a
Stats: 19.68mi, 4675' gain (round trip)

I'm getting a late start with overnight trips this year. I really wanted to head out, but felt like I wanted company. Weather wasn't the greatest for a Fri-Sat-Sun trip...Friday looked a bit wet but the rest of the weekend looked reasonable. Nothing that a good warm sleeping bad, a bomber tent, and GoreTex couldn't cure...

I checked with Kim and Jim and they were planning a trip. The decided on Fortune Ponds and didn't mind me tagging along.

Day 1: Trailhead to Fortune Ponds

Kim and Jim drove up to my place. From there we consolidated into one car. Then the drive up to Skykomish (Beckler River Rd to Rapid River Rd). We pulled into a wide spot along the road just past the TH sign (elev 1982'). It's hard to call it a TH...it would be easy enough to miss the TH sign. Kim knew the spot which helped. We did a final gear check and then pulled out the umbrellas and started up the trail. Yep...it would be a wet hike in. I put the rain pants on from the start not wanting to get soaked right out of the car. All three of us headed up the trail under our umbrellas must have been a sight.

Lots of cool things along the trail. Mist...rain...fungus...drippy plants.

It rained pretty solid the first 2.5hrs. Even with the umbrella and rain pants...the boots were getting wet. Oh well...it was better than staying home.

We took our time hiking up the trail. Kim had mentioned lots of brush higher up but we got lucky. Looks like a crew had been in earlier in the season and did some serious brushing along the entire trail to the ponds. Perfect!

The trail gains elevation pretty consistently the first few miles...then it levels off a bit before dropping a short bit into the ponds basin. Tons and tons of blueberries still out along the trail. Many were well past prime but there were still so many worth stopping for a sweet snack.

We arrived at Fortune Pass to find a massive blowdown had taken down the sign but once again...thanks to the trail crew for clearing all the downed trees all the way to the ponds. The trail was in excellent shape! We met a group of 6 hikers just before the pass, they were also headed to the ponds for the weekend. Jim/Kim knew the ideal spot to put up our tents so Jim bolted ahead to snag the good spot while Kim and I brought up the rear. Jim arrived at the ponds about 45 minutes before we did and when we arrived (elev 4662'), seriously delayed by the sheer volume of ripe huckleberries in the meadows near the ponds, we found Jim finishing up with pitching his tent. Kim and I picked out spots and did the same.

The rain let up in late afternoon (yeah) so the three of us found a rock which gave us great views north. Between the swirling clouds it was great to look for the old Cascade Crest Trail (now abandoned). We had a late dinner and then crawled into the tents.

Stats: 6.88mi, 2982' gain (one way)

Day 2: Fortune Ponds > Frozen Finger Pass to Pear Lake > north on the PCT

I don't think any of us were in a rush to get up :)  Our breakfast spot was nicely nestled in the trees in the middle of a patch of huge huckleberry bushes. The bushes were huge and so were the hucks! From my perch I picked a huge handful and dumped them into my bowl or oatmeal.

After breakfast our trio packed our gear and hiked up to Frozen Finger Pass (elev 5257') (part of the old Cascade Crest Trail) which looked to have had some recent maintenance. There were a few late flowers out. The weather had improved from yesterday so we had lots of views as we headed up. We hiked down the other side to Pear Lake (elev 4818') (from the pass the lake looked a bit hike a pear so we wonder if that is how it got its name). Kim and Jim continued on to Top Lake while I wander around. It's a short trip down to Top Lk and they were back in no time so then our group decided to hike, more like wander, north along the PCT. We hiked north about a mile from the Pear/Top junction, found a nice spot in the rocks, and stopped for lunch before retracing our steps back to Pear Lk, over Frozen Finger Pass, and then back to camp at Fortune Ponds.

The campsites were pretty full at Pear Lk. There was even a group that had hired a crew to bring them in by horse. They had a huge, fully stocked, campsite. Wow. Fortune Ponds by comparison was quiet and secluded.

Stats: 5.92mi, 1437' gain (camp to camp)

Day 3: Fortune Ponds to TH

We wanted to get back to the TH early, to beat the holiday traffic jam on Hwy2, so we were up pretty early. My morning alarm clock was Jim asking if I was up :)

We had a quick breakfast (more fresh huckleberries for me) and then packed up and headed out. It was nice to hike out with dry brush compared to the wet hike in. The only bad part...my boots had stayed wet the entire trip. We got back to the car and crossed our fingers with the traffic. It was bad...but we hit it about 2pm instead of later in the afternoon when we were certain it would have been much worse.

Stats: 6.88mi, 276' gain (one way)
 
Fortune Ponds Slideshow

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