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Chelan Sawtooth high country pack trip - Printable Version

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Chelan Sawtooth high country pack trip - Perry - 07-24-2020

Last week I got out on my first real high country pack trip of the year.  In short, it was a great hike!

I took Grant, Albert, Bryce and Benson on a 6 day pack trip in the Chelan Sawtooth area. 
 
Since this area is east of Lake Chelan the snow tends to melt our a little earlier than along the main Cascade crest.  There were still a few snow patches in higher areas, but the trails were all snow free.

I’ve included a map of the area where we hiked.
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The first day, Wednesday, July 15th, we hiked to Upper Eagle lake and camped there.
 
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Thursday, we hiked over Horsehead pass to Boiling lake, then toward Hoodoo pass.  A little south of Hoodoo pass we headed off trail up to the ridge line to the west.  There were snow cornices along the ridge line, but there was one place where the snow had melted out.  From the ridge top we took a x-country high route to Bernice lake to the north.  This is mostly high meadow country.  We were generally hiking around 7,500 ft. elevation.

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Friday, we took a trail down from Bernice lake to the Chelan Summit trail then northwest above Surprise lake and around to the lakes northeast of Finney Peak.

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Saturday, we came back along the Chelan Summit trail and camped in a meadow southeast of Dry lake.

Sunday we hiked southeast along the Chelan Summit trail to Angel’s Staircase, up over Angel’s Staircase, and down to camp at a pond near Cooney lake.  Angel’s Staircase was the high point of the trip at 8,000 ft. elevation.  It was warm Sunday afternoon, so we took several rest breaks going up Angel’s Staircase.

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Monday we hike out the Martin Creek trail back to the TH.

The main trails from Crater Creek TH are open to motorcycles and generally well maintained.  I saw only one motorcyclist, and that was on the Martin creek trail the last day.

I saw a few hikers and mountain bikers on the trails but saw no one from Thursday morning until Sunday afternoon. 

There were mosquitoes buzzing around at times, but insect repellent did a pretty good job of keeping them off.

There were quite a few nice wildflowers, more in some areas than others.
 
The goats were carrying about 25# each.

We hiked around 6 to 9 miles per day with elevation gains in the 2,000 to 3,000 ft range.  I stopped for breaks periodically, particularly with more extended uphill sections and/or if it was warm.

Overall, the goats did well.
 
Several times in open areas / meadows Benson tried to walk around the group to get in front.  At a couple of stream crossings Grant was reluctant to cross, so I lead him.  Grant is the dominate goat, he is the one who has horns.  Albert was much more comfortable fording streams.

It was a really beautiful, enjoyable, and peaceful hike.


RE: Chelan Sawtooth high country pack trip - Nanno - 07-24-2020

What a beautiful hike. That looks amazing!


RE: Chelan Sawtooth high country pack trip - k.benefield - 07-29-2020

Very nice! We have yet to do an extended pack trip beyond 4 days. I love those high mountain meadows and lakes!

Do you ever find that hay fed goats have a harder time keeping weight on after a few days on the trail? We have a friend who's goats are able to forage a lot from day to day. Seems they hold their weight better than ours since they're more used to that diet.


RE: Chelan Sawtooth high country pack trip - IdahoNancy - 07-30-2020

That is a great question. My boys are primarily hay fed at home. Our intermittent training hikes are often done in the morning before any feed. Some how they figure out how to forage especially if you stop and rest at good foraging areas when they are hungry.To some degree I think the older goats teach the young ones what to eat on the trail. I like them to practice foraging during the year to prevent any problems.


RE: Chelan Sawtooth high country pack trip - k.benefield - 07-31-2020

Our goats forage fine, it seems they just don't keep weight on very well. They're used to alfalfa, so I'm thinking they're just not getting the same protein. Also, I'm pretty sure they just get fat at home and look kinda odd to me after a few days on the trail.


RE: Chelan Sawtooth high country pack trip - Kat - 07-31-2020

Perry, you do some great trips - I saw you posted this trip on nwhikers as well.  Upper Eagle is the lake responsible for getting me into pack goats - final straw of yet another aborted trip on horseback due to log blocking trail. At least we got the thoroughbred to jump over, I led him up on foot with all the fish we were stocking the lake with for wdfw strapped to his saddle.  It ended up being a dayhike instead of a 3 day trip Sad

I have been planning to go back with the goats and finally do the loop trip we aborted on - similar to yours - you did some good mileage and gain on your trip each day for sure.  You have your goats in good shape.  

k. benefield - I spoil my goats and pack some food for them. Sometimes I think my goats carry more stuff for them, than for me Smile  I also stop along the trail where I see good forage and let them eat for a while.  I call it "goat time."