Three Brothers & Navaho Peak

I missed most spring scrambling in the Teanaway this year. I slipped this trip in the day before the start of summer. It felt more like late winter. David, Barry, and met in North Seattle at 6:30 am. Suzanne drove Geo Tom and his dog Jasper plus her friend Daryl. We met at the Stafford Creek trailhead some 4+ miles from the end of pavement on the NF Teanaway Road. It rained from Seattle to Cle Elum. A number of folks bailed out on the trip as the forecast took a downward spike the day before. When we reached the start it was not raining. A very good sign for a very long day of hiking and scrambling.

We were  on the trail by 8:45 am. The Stafford Creek trail is in fine shape. Only one log to climb over all the way to Navaho Pass. We cruised along with just one stop. We all zipped off our pant legs and most went to short sleeves. It was not all that warm but at a steady pace we stayed plenty warm. Wind was not a factor all day. After the long switchbacks we reached the creek coming down from between Navaho and Little Navaho Peaks. Instead of crossing we left the trail and headed straight up.

My last few times up this off trail route were on snow with snowshoes. This day we had only a few short snow patches to cross. It is a little easier on dirt. Daryl and I lagged a bit behind the other speed burners and we met up again at the saddle. I have gone up the right to the right then descended on the route of the County Line Trail to the Falls Creek/Negro Creek saddle below Three Brothers. I had not dropped down from the pass.

The north other side of the pass is still all snow. I pulled out my ice axe though it was soft enough to plunge step down. The slope narrows to a small gorge and did not look inviting. Instead we left snow and began to side hill around a point. We dropped some more then began to ascend. We were then able to head to our right and into the valley of Negro Creek. A couple creek crossings were accomplished with jumps. This area is dry in the summer but full of water now.

We soon reached the Negro Creek Trail and followed it up to the pass. It was now about 11:30 and some lunch was in order. We had gained a little over 3000' to this point. It is another 1200' of gain to the 7303' summit of the western summit of Three Brothers. The ridge is largely bare with a number of snow sections remaining. Part way up the ridge scramble I felt a cramp in my thigh. A little later I felt another one in a different place. Only 500' below the top I chose to stop rather than cramp up more so far from the trailhead. Visibility was practically non existent. I've been to the summit seven or eight times and missing it this time was not that much of a disappointment. Especially with no views. Tom left me some salty nuts. I ate drank and rested before descending back to the pass.

I felt a lot better then. It was 1:15 from when I headed down to when the others also reached the pass. Surprisingly, I was not that cold waiting for so long at over 6000'. The lack of wind was much appreciated. The easiest route back would probably have been to retrace out steps to the Little Navaho saddle. Instead we chose to follow the route of the County Line Trail up to the shoulder of Navaho Peak and descend to the saddle.

Off we went on dirt at first and then on snow. Instead of heading straight up the steep slope to the ridge Barry went farther right on the slope of Navaho Peak. This brought up to the ridge higher up. A short discussion led to a change of plans. Now we were going to head up the ridge to tag another summit. I had no more cramps so I was in. Down at the saddle we were below the cloud layer but now we were right back in it. I could not see very far ahead. The ridge gained another 500' at a fairly easy grade. Soon were were all on the summit. Again there was little wind but also no views. It took about an hour from the Falls Creek Pass and it was about 3:00 pm when we headed down. Rather than head down the ridge we chose the longer route out via Navaho Pass.

The snow was good for plunge stepping and some standing glissades as we lost 1200' to the pass in short order. The pass was beneath the clouds but there was no view of Mt. Stuart of the Stuart Range. Now we just had a 6 mile slog back to the cars. Navaho Pass is mostly melted bare though snow begins on either side of the pass. The meadow below the pass has melted out though snow is still all around it and the ground is soaked most everywhere. It will be a few weeks before there is dry camping.

The switchbacks down to Stafford Creek were just as long as ever. We made good time covering the 6 miles in about two hours. The speed did not allow much time for photos. There is paintbrush, lupine, spring beauty, glacier lilies, and more along the trail. Not a great flower bonanza but very good for this trail. It did not rain at all the whole day. A welcome and very unexpected bonus. As best I can calculate on a map, I hiked a little over 13 miles and the rest of the group just under 14. I gained 5500' and they gained 6000'. That 5500' is 1700' more than any other trip I have done this year. I'm still feeling it the day after.

While I have been up Three Brothers and Navaho many times I never grow tired of the trips. While we had no views we did have comfortably cool temperatures and no rain. The snow was soft enough to plunge step but not a post holing nightmare. I was pleased to get in at least one spring snow scramble in the Teanaway.

Stafford Creek
Motley Crew
Shooting Stars
Heading Off Trail
Into The Clouds
Not Much Visibility
Three Brothers From Pass
Descending On Snow
Looking Up To Pass
Traversing Slope
Little Navaho
Approaching Next Pass
Cloudy Brothers Ridge
Ascending Ridge
Looking  Down Ridge
First Pass In Distance
Navaho In Clouds
Stuart Range?
Yellow Flower
Next Pass Ahead
Clearing To The East
Trail Pair Summit View
Navaho Summit
Descending Navaho
Meadow Is Snow Free
Glacier Lilies
Grass & Lupine
Lupine Close Up
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2010