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Ascent to Big Chiwaukum-Grace Lake on 2012-07-22

Climber: Eric Noel

Others in Party:Ken Russell
Date:Sunday, July 22, 2012
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Point Reached:Big Chiwaukum - Grace Lake
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:6300 ft / 1920 m
    Remaining Elevation:1781 ft / 543 m (31% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

Road is fine. Hike the good trail for a flattish section with minor yo-yos for a long hour. Or a short hour if you are faster than me. Along that first section, we followed a minor flagged re-route that avoids a brushy section though either works. Then turn left on the signed Wildhorse trail. Follow this as it goes up at various gradients until you get in the vicinity of the basin W of Big Chiwaukum. Here we found an unexpected side trail heading upwards. We stuck to the main trail, not knowing where this goes. We continued on with a lot of annoying up and down as the trail to Grace Lake starts way S of the lake. We found the trail junction easily enough. Incidentally, it was not on my map but the Grace Lake trail shows on mytopo. Anyway, we found the trail but it was abandoned and quite overgrown. We were able to slowly track it into a soggy meadow with steep sides all around. No sign of the trail here and we just hoofed it up a steep gully between some rock outcroppings. This was OK in parts but soggy muddy and slick near the steepest part and I found it to be treacherous. Finally we made it through safely and the gradient eased. We traversed over to the lake and found a campsite at a late hour. Some snow near the lake. Pretty lake and basin. In the morning I decided that I was pretty wiped from the approach and didn't have the energy to do the peak and hike out. Ken sort of agreed although he had been faster than I had been. We bailed and I pushed to explore an alternate route since I did not like the slick steep mud on our ascent slope. There really isn't much value in the "abandoned" trail IMO since it is only passable through the flat easy area and it takes you way too far S. Anyway, so I was hoping to find an alternate route and so we probed both the ridge as well as the basin on the N side of the outlet creek. Ken and I took to different areas as I worked the W ridge in search of routes down into the basin to the N while Ken probed some of the gentler contours of the basin we were in. I saw some possibilities but nothing that was a clear winner and finally Ken's basin tactic was working so I bailed off of the ridge at ~5761 which is marked by a snag tree. I worked down some pretty steep grass and we found our way back to the trail. From there it was just the annoying up and down on the trail. Long hike out, fairly uneventful. We did probe the unknown sidetrail that we found earlier and it looked like it might at least get us through the brushy portions and into the W basin. I think we both felt that we would rather take our chances with that than use either our entry or exit routes which both kinda sucks. Actually, I really like taking the ridge above and would do that again if you can get to 5761' but it is steep up to that point from the trail. Whatever. Could either try to camp in basin or head up and over to Grace Lakes at worst or there is a decent chance of finding a ramp up to the ridge lower down to gain the ridge and traverse to lake.

Need to get in shape.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:4500 ft / 1370 m
    Elevation Loss:4500 ft / 1370 m
    Distance:19 mi / 30.6 km
    Grade/Class:Class 2ish
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Sunny but not really too hot
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:3900 ft / 1188 m
    Extra Loss:400 ft / 121 m
    Distance:10 mi / 16.1 km
    Route:Wildhorse -> Grace Lakes Trail
    Trailhead:White Pine TH  2800 ft / 853 m
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:4100 ft / 1249 m
    Extra Gain:600 ft / 182 m
    Distance:9 mi / 14.5 km
    Route:Grace Basin ->Wildhorse
    Trailhead:White Pine TH  2800 ft / 853 m



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