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Ingalls Way trail to Ingalls Lake, Teanaway Area, Wa. 11/11/2004

Arrived on the Trailhead at the end of N. Fork Teanaway / Forest Rd. 9737 at The Esmeralda Basin. Loong drive back there, beautiful and the section of The N. ForkTeanaway River is beautiful as it crashes through the wind, weathered, and water sculpted rock. Left on Trail 1390 at 8:15am temp. about 30 degrees with a starting elevation of 4200', the road back had been predominantly clear except for several inches of snow and patches of ice on the forest road. Not far from the trailhead started encountering patchy ice and crisp snow 2-3 in. which steadily increased to 6-8 in. at The jct. of Longs Pass, we were ahead of the sun just barely coming over the ridgeline with a snow dusted Esmeralda Peaks standing over us. One person had come through the area which helped with navigation, but you could see the line on the ridge where the trail switchbacked up and postholing in the old partially frozen footsteps was a help vs. the even deeper snow at the sides or slightly off trail. Beyond the jct. with Longs Pass snow was in excess of 10'-12' and once the sun hit it, well it began quickly to turn into a deep grainy, wet slush and more of a workout. It was beautiful and the skies were blue, the mountains were both a red / orange color and dark gray depending upon which way you looked. The push to Ingalls Pass in the sun was at times knee deep 2' or so, but at the top around 10" at the pass crossing deeper along the ridge. Mt. Stuart towered to our NNE some 3000' plus above us, we were at around 6500', but looking back to the SW was Mt. Rainier huge in the background with full views of the mountain. So turn your head in either direction and you saw each. Mike the guy I was hiking with has been around this area quite awhile and through the Enchantments and said this was the best view of Mt. Stuart he has ever seen and as nice a setting as any through the Enchantments.. At that point it was do we break a new trail along the ridgeline in knee to thigh wet snow or do we follow the footsteps down through Headlight Basin / Creek. We could see across the basin to the ridge and trail ? on which the other side was Ingalls Lake. We decided to go down through and across the basin then up to the ridge / pass to Ingalls Lake. Going down some 500' in still harder partially frozen snow wasn't bad, though there were some tricky sections and standing on many feet of snow you could hear Headlight creek below. Again midway through the sun had been on the snow awhile and how deep was it I really don't know, many times stepping up to my crotch as we tried to pick our way through there using what appeared to be the firmest sections, going back up was a definite trip and workout sometimes on exposed rock, mostly through knee deep wet snow and we knew it would be worse coming back, but we had the time and energy all hyped up on GU and Clif bars, I had filled my insulated hydration system with Powerade and man as the day wore on was it warm up there. We finally took back our 500' through brush, creeks,runs, and rock and just over the ridge in our face was Ingalls Lake at the foot of Mt. Stuart. It was spectacular. We ate on a huge boulder facing Mt. Stuart and the Lake (eventually I felt and later found out I did have a slight sunburn). We ate Energy bagles, trail mix, Gu and Clif bars rested a bit then pumped our water for the trip back. As I said earlier we expected and recieved a workout coming back through the valley snow, again we had looked at the ridgeline around (which would have been almost level) but there were scattered boulders deep snow and decided to go with what we knew ( the path around was waypointed on my GPS but I occasionally glance at my GPS and with the snow/ice runs/ rocks you needed to focus and we didn't want to break a new trail). It was a pick your way through return back to Ingalls Pass, again the snow down there was incredible once I was up to my crotch with both legs and Mike had to give me a hand to pull me out, we made it back up to The Pass had some more GU, water, enjoyed the views for a few minutes then headed back down, again a hard descent through wet snow, but everything worth it, what a beautiful area almost a mix of slightly desert and PNW pine. We arrived at the truck at 4:15pm in a darkening day and in complete dark still driving back out along N. Teanaway Rd. It was one of the days you will remember that was good, as good and full as it gets, and that you are grateful for. I will add a link to the pics shortly. Around 8 miles roundtrip, 3770' elevation gain and loss, 8 hours (including lunch).

 

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