Squire Creek Pass (Oct 28, 2017)

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squire_creek_pass_coverConditions: Day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Trinity
Area: Darrington
Reference: 100 Hikes in Washington's Glacier Peak Region: The North Cascades
Stats: 5.28mi, 2377' gain (round trip)

The weather this weekend was going to be unseasonably warm, unseasonable blue sky, and unseaonsably dry. Wow. You don't get that combination that often the last weekend of October. I was looking for a new trip. I really wanted to see some fall color but I also wanted to go someplace new. I'm kinda getting tired of repeat trips. I suggested Mission Ridge and Squire Creek Pass to Steve. I'm really glad he picked Squire Creek Pass. Really glad...

We didn't need a super early start since it was a short hike and short-ish drive to get to the trailhead. We were packed and ready to go in the morning and drove north to Darrington via Hwy 9 and Hwy 530. We then drove south on the Mtn Loop Highway and looked for the Clear Creek Campground. Directly opposite is FS2060 (marked as heading to the Eightmile TH). The map shows this as Frog Creek Rd. We drove this road nearly 6 miles to the Eightmile TH (1766'). The road is rough in spots (a few sections with deep potholes) and several of the creeks crossing the road create some deep dips one needs to cross. The 4Runner did just fine, a Subie should be able to make it, not sure about a low clearance car (some of the potholes are pretty deep). We arrived to find one other car parked at the wide spot in the road. It was a cool and crisp morning. It looked like a great day for a hike!

The trail is steep pretty much the whole way to the pass. Some sections less steep, some more so...but the elevation gain doesn't let off much until right before you reach the pass. The trail starts out in deep old growth forest. The number and size of some old growth trees that had been cut was mind numbing. The trees here are huge. It makes sense...some of the largest trees in the area (at least to me) seem to be in the Boulder River Wilderness (the wilderness boundary is at about .7mi and 2360') and this trail is in that Wilderness area. There was one tree along the way (a red cedar I think) that was simply mind boggling big. I'd guess it to be 12 foot in diameter at the base. Steve and I both wondered why this lone giant wasn't cut. We were both glad it wasn't.

Higher up the trail enters a few clearings and heads for the base of 3 O'clock Rock before heading back into the trees and again climbs steeply uphill. This trail is in rough shape. Root exposed, rock riddled, steep, mucky in sections...it is in need of some TLC. But...Steve loved it. We had a day to do our trip so we were in no rush. Lots of stops to photograph the color, the surrounding peacks, the occasional fungus...it was enjoyable just to explore someplace new.

Just before the pass the trail grade eased up a bit (1.8mi, 3559') and the trail wound through meadows that must have been filled with huckleberries several weeks ago. The upper section of the trail is really interesting...it looks like there isn't much topsoil on top of the rock and we were constantly crossing small/shallow streams that were more like washes...wide sections of bare rock with a think film of water flowing over the top.Really cool stuff.

We reached the pass (2.58mi, 4100') and found a nice place to drop our packs. Wow...the view of Three Fingers is incredible here. The LO easy to spot on one of the fingers. We had just started lunch when I noticed two people that looked familiar...Yoko and Sandra. Now what a nice surprise...bumping into them for the second time in two weeks. I love these unexpected encounters! We all stopped for lunch and caught up on news and then Sandra and Yoko headed back down. Steve and I lingered...actually taking a short nap in the open sun on the exposed rock. It wasn't until about 3pm that we felt like it was time to start moving. We stopped a few times on the way down (Steve looking for frogs and salamanders) and reached the TH about 5pm. The timing was perfect, we were the last car, we wouldn't have to worry about a conga line of cars heading out to the highway.
Squire Creek Pass Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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