This post is late. Quite a bit late I would say. Something of the order of a month. It’s about the average delay in me getting birthday presents to people.
Getting to this hike is a challenge in itself. Drive on I90 until you get close to Cle-Elum (be careful here, the cops love giving tickets) and then for what seems like hours on back country roads. The directions on the WTA site are scant but accurate. However, after a point, the macadam just disappears and the gravel that you drive doesn’t really care about what happens to your car.
The gate to the actual trail was closed and crowded and after asking a nice old lady about which way the trail is we got started. The first four odd miles are along side Stafford Creek which is big and large and noisy at the start but becomes smaller and smaller as you climb gently up the mountain. It’s still pleasant to walk by the stream because there is the option to occasionally just walk to it and put your hand in the water.
The junction with the Stafford Creek trail arrives with no ceremony whatsoever after four miles of walking and gentle climbing (yes, this climbing is gentle, it gets worse). The sad part is that the stream is no longer with you on the trek up the mountain. And this is quite a trek (or I was unfit) because I was stopping for rest breaks every fifteen minutes. Anyway, another mile or so of climbing gets you into a meadow where the wildflowers when we went in June were blooming in bits and pieces. There’s a nice variety of colour here, purple and white and blue. There’s also a stream. And people camping – this is a great place to camp!
There’s also the occasional wildlife that ambles across the trail. This is very uneducated wildlife, the kind of wildlife that never listened to their mom when she said, “look left, look right, once and then twice.” I was quick enough to capture this squirrel (another reminder that I have miles to go before I become a wildlife-photographer for National Geographic).
There’s more climbing involved though. Keep at it and the vegetation starts to thin, the wildflowers start to change. Higher up, the purples were replaced with whites.
This is the toughest part of the hike though the views to the left are of some significance. That is I think Harry’s Ridge (I think, this is from very foggy memory as people who’s birthdays I have forgot will attest). The sign at Navaho pass is rather obvious. It is right in front of you as you climb up on the ridge that connects Navaho Peak with The Stuart Range. This is the end of the trek, Navaho pass at about five and a half miles. The picture below shows the ridge (or is this a saddle?) from Navaho Peak towards Harry’s Ridge.
Do not stop here though. The trail continues onto Navaho peak on the right and in the distance. Making it to the peak seemed very tough and very hard. However, climbing a little farther is worth it, perhaps something like another two hundred feet. The thing is, that Navaho Pass is not tall enough to let you peek over its surroundings. The surroundings are worth peeking over for the reasons mentioned below:
Reason One: Mount Stuart
I’d only ever heard of Mount Stuart before this, another mountain in the cascades. Ho hum. There are plenty of those. However, this trek gets you up close and personal with this big fellow. And it is a big fellow. The Stuart range is, well, imposing. It gives new meaning to the term, a wall of granite (if that’s not a term I am coining it now).
Reason Two: More volcanoes to the south west
I’ve been told that is Mount Adams in the far far distance.
Reason Three: Rainier
This is just about visible from everywhere. It’s much better than what’s in the picture – I’m not good enough with a DSLR (yet) to capture these.