Squire Creek Pass

I had hiked to Squire Creek Pass just once before. That was in late November 2008. We had just a little snow near the pass and good views. There should be no way to hike up to Squire Creek Pass in mid winter. It would be a long snowshoe trip from the low snow line. This winter so far has been the winter that wasn't. Why not head up in mid February? I joined Gwen, Josh, Chris, and Gina for my second visit. Gwen, Josh, and I carpooled together. We drove through Darrington, down the Mountain Loop Highway to Clear Creek and on to the small trailhead. We arrived just before 9:00 am. Chris and Gina arrived a few minutes later. It was overcast and cool but not too cold when we started out.

The start of the trail is an old roadbed that is very rocky. It appears it is a creek part of the year. After leaving the road the trail gets steeper. It is more a boot path than a built trail. In 2008 I don't recall any trees down across the trail. There are a number of them now. Some are too big to get over. We had to head up slope to get by. Right at the wilderness boundary the big trees begin. Some of the biggest ones are now dead snags. Before the wilderness there were stumps more than ten feet across. One still standing tree looks to be more than twelve feet in diameter.

We slogged along through the forest. Just before Three O'Clock Rock the trail breaks out of the trees. Normally there would be clear views here. We had some though low clouds were everywhere.  The rock was very wet. We did not see any climbers coming in or going out. Heck, we did not see a single other person the entire day. Total solitude right outside of Darrington. The trailhead is at about 1800'. Squire Creek Pass is at about 4000'. It is less than three miles to the pass. It is a short trip but a very good one.

There was a lot of water on the trail. I wore heavier boots and kept dry feet. There were a number of creeks to step over or through. The trail can be muddy this time of year too. After crossing below Three O'Clock Rock the route switchbacks up between the rock and a creek. The creek is down continuous slabs. Like Three O"Clock Rock only narrow and full of running water. Several times the trail switches direction at the rock and then at the creek. Finally we crossed the creek and continued higher.

The last transition is from forest to more open meadows. Nearer the pass the meadows are broken up by more long slabs with creeks running down them. I don't know if I have seen anything like it in the Cascades. A little snow began in the meadows. It may have been up to four inches deep but I did not bother with gaiters. What little snow we saw was gone as we approached Squire Creek Pass. The views from the pass are outstanding. Well, at least they are on a clear day. At first we could see only a small part of Three Fingers right across the valley. Whitehorse never did come out of the clouds. In time we saw the north and then the middle of the three fingers. We never did see the top of the south finger and the lookout.

The clouds moving through did provide a very different experience from the clear skies on my first visit. There was a lot to be said for the more moody feeling of the clouds. It was chilly at the pass but fortunately the wind was fairly light. We arrived at the pass at about 11:50 am. We stayed until 2:00 pm. More than two hours up high. The trip down was faster. We did completely lose the trail where a mass of trees fell and blocked the route. It took a little hunting around to find our way again. The route is easy enough to see when you are on it. Not so obvious when you are looking for it. It rained lightly for a short while on the way up. Not at all at the pass and coming down.

The trail is a bit of a knee cruncher coming down. Some big steps and lots of rocks. We made it back to the trailhead just a few minutes after 4:00 pm. Gwen got out her saw to remove a small tree across the trail near the start. The views were not as clear as hoped but the complete lack of other hikers was nice. We had the whole area to ourselves. Getting to Squire Creek Pass on bare trail in mid February is really unusual. We took advantage of the lack of snow to hike up with no snowshoes and did not even use traction devices. After talking with Chris a few times it was great to have him and Gina along on the hike. The list of winter climbs that are just hikes this year continues.

Rocky Trail
Onto Dirt Trail
Gwen & Big Tree
Chris, Gina, & Big Log
Getting Around Log
Josh On Trail
Whirling Clouds
Small Window
Three O'Clock Rock
Mossy Rock
Clouds Blow In
Slabby Creek
Mossy Trail
Steep Spot
Dark & White
Slabs & Creeks
Rock Face
Squire Creek Pass
Higher Squire
Cloudy Three Fingers
Salish Peak
A Little Sunshine
Almost Three Fingers
Leaving The Pass
Slab & Grass
Clouds & Blue Sky
TOC Rock & Blue Sky
Sawyer Gwen
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2015