Navaho Peak

Rain all Saturday and more rain coming on Sunday. What to do? Gary and I were thinking about a wet day on Tiger Mountain just to get in some mileage and elevation gain. Why not take a chance on better weather in the Teanaway area? At the last minute we decided to head east. We had mist or rain most of the way to Easton then it began to clear. By Cle Elum it was looking pretty good. We still had to drive back west. Things were still looking okay at the Stafford Creek Trailhead. We were the only car there at 8:50 am. By 9:00 we were on the trail.

It was chilly but we set a good pace and before long my pants legs were zipped off and stowed. Strong winds were forecast but down in the Stafford Creek valley it was calm. Colors are turning and only a few flowers remain. The creeks and Teanaway River are very low. We reached the four mile mark at the Standup Creek junction in 1:30 and started the interminable switchbacks. Long switchbacks with very little elevation gain.

At the meadow there are still some flowers blooming. We were still feeling good on the hike through the moonscape section then on to Navaho Pass. Two hours fifteen minutes for 5.75 miles with 3000' of gain is a pretty good pace for me. Much of the Stuart Range was in the clear though the taller peaks were in the clouds. It had been four years since I hiked up the trail to Navaho without snow. Recent reports showed it to be more a trail than the old scramble boot path. That proved to be true.

Just above the pass there was a very loose scree section of the County Line Trail. It has been rerouted. The old boot path has been swept free of rocks and sloping tread has been leveled. It really is just a trail walk to the summit now. Even the junction with the County Line Trail now has multiple cairns and a path hacked out of the hard ground. We slowed down as the route became steeper but still kept up a pretty good pace. We reached the 7,223' summit at noon, exactly three hours after starting. The wind began blowing as we neared Navaho Pass and it was blowing very cold on the summit.

We headed out of the wind taking the summit register along. The peak has had a pretty busy summer. While we were eating and enjoying the view two folks came up from the east ridge side. They were a couple of hunters out for the high hunt. The ridge from Navaho Pass to the summit is the wilderness boundary so we were never in the hunting area. They had come up from Shaser Creek on a long journey. Nice guys. We talked for quite awhile.

The calendar may say summer was only a few days past but it was cold on top. We brought along winter clothes and used much of them. Before leaving we headed a short ways down the east ridge. Gary spotted some larch trees below on the north side of the ridge. In fact, some of them were just starting to turn golden. I not never noticed larch trees there before. With sub freezing temperatures coming the next few days golden larch may not be far away.

Despite the cold we managed to spend 1:45 minutes on the summit. Offsetting the cold was a lot of sunshine. It was cloudy all around us and even raining hard near Ingalls Lake but we were under a donut hole of sunshine. It took us less than half an hour to reach Navaho Pass. We shed the gloves and jackets as we were almost out of the wind. Soon we saw fresh foot prints but not any people.

We were within about two miles of the trailhead when we met two hikers coming up. Right at the very end we met two more. Two groups were packing up after just beating us back to the lot. That was it for the whole day. Almost total solitude on a pretty popular trail. We came down at 4:15. Later I looked at our Navaho trip from 2004. We met at 7:00 just like this day, we started at 9:00 again and strangest of all, we finished at 4:15. Matching all three times without knowing them in advance is a weird coincidence.

It rained most of the way from Cle Elum to North Bend. Our trip east proved to be exactly the right prescription for a soggy day in the mountains. Snow will soon be flying but it was nice to get in one more 7,000' summit on dirt.

Fall Color
Some Blue Sky
Near Navaho Pass
Stuart Range From Pass
Trail To Summit
Earl Peak
Three Brothers
Stuart In The Clouds
Teanaway Peaks
Stuart Range Clearing
Gary On Summit
Jim On Summit
Larches Below Ridge
Lots More Larches
More Golden Larch
Rain To The West
Twisted Old Log
Lone South Side Larch
Harebell Hanging On
More Fall Color
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2008