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[TR] Mount Hardy (8038') & Golden Horn (8366’) - Swamp Creek to Snowy Lakes 07/30/2022

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Trip: Mount Hardy (8038') & Golden Horn (8366’) - Swamp Creek to Snowy Lakes

Trip Date: 07/30/2022

Trip Report:

Mount Hardy (8038') & Golden Horn (8366’) – Swamp Creek  Approach – - JULY 30-31, 2022 (Sat, Sun)

It was going to be hot as hell over the weekend, a good excuse to get up in elevation and enjoy the mountains.  Mount Hardy & Golden Horn are in the Wilderness area and not in the National Park, so no bullshit permission slips needed to use MY forest.  It’s the way ALL forests owned by the people should be.

Saturday: I started from the Swamp Creek Turnout past the Easy Pass Trailhead off Hwy 20 at 10:00am.  I walked down Hwy 20 past Swamp Creek and started up the hill toward Mount Hardy.  The bushwhacking  started out very pleasant, with open easy travel through the forest.  I knew the longer it stayed pleasant the steeper the upper bushwhack was going to get.  You hit a wall of steep thick baby trees around 5200’ and you don’t come out until about 5900’.  After 5900’, you come into a burn area with a clear line of sight to the summit of Mount Hardy.  The rock to the summit is mostly class 2 with a little class 3 here and there.  The challenge is in the elevation gain over the short distance to the summit.  I was on the Mount Hardy summit at 2:45pm.  A new summit registry was placed on July 24th . There is no water between Swamp Creek and the Mount Hardy summit, so water up at the creek and carry all that you will need until the Pacific Crest Trail.  I headed down from the summit and followed the ridge to Methow Pass off the Pacific Crest Trail at 4:45pm.  I headed down the trail toward the Snowy Lakes arriving at the Upper Snowy Lake camp at 6:00pm and called it a day.  The bugs are out in force around the lakes area right now.  Bring your bug repellant and a head net unless you like breathing mosquitoes.  I really wanted to swim in the lake to cool off, but I would have come out looking like a pin cushion with a skin tone a shade of grey from all the blood loose.   I brought a tarp to sleep under and I was wishing I had lugged up the extra weight of a tent so I could hide from the buzzing swarm of mosquitoes.  A beautiful area nonetheless. 

Sunday:  I was up and moving at 5:30am.  I headed for the ridge of Golden Horn instead of going through the middle and dealing with all the loose rock.  The ridge was nice.  I summited Golden Horn at 7:45am.  I climbed an extra ridge of 4th and 5th class rock thinking it was the summit.  The actual summit requires about 30-40’ of low 5th class to get to the top.  The final section to the top was a 6’ vertical section that I pulled myself up over.  There is a rappel sling setup off the top if wanted.  A 30’ section of accessory cord would probably do the trick if you wanted to go light.  I worked my way down back to camp arriving at 9:15am.  I went down through the middle, in the loose rock, as it was nice on the feet.  I was back to Methow Pass at 11:30am.  I climbed up to 7500’ on the side of Mount Hardy to cross back over to the route down to the parking area.  I was in this area before and I decided to go straight across from the end of the nice ridge from Methow Pass, probably at around 7000’.  That sucked.  I ended up hitting a few gullies full of steep loose rock on top of slick rock.  It took a long time and one slip would have meant having my ass belt sanded for 100’s of feet.  So make sure you cross at 7500’ or higher on the side of Hardy.  I made it back to the parking area at 3:30pm.  The climb down the steep baby tree section was just as hard going down as up.  I could see better going up even though it was more effort. 

It was a fun trip overall, nothing too technical, beautiful scenery, and most importantly NO BULLSHIT from the green gestapo. 


Some Tips and Notes:

1.       The route going up to Hardy is on the West side of Swamp Creek and splits away from the creek after a little while.

2.       There is no water between Swamp Creek and the Snowy Lakes area so plan accordingly.  There is snow to melt on route if needed in a pinch. 

3.       Cross the side of Mount Hardy at 7500’ or higher to avoid nasty gullies. 

4.       Bring bug repellant or a blood transfusion.    


Travel Time for reference:

Saturday:  Trailhead to Hardy Summit to Upper Snowy Lake Camp (6600’) – 8 hours.

Sunday:  Camp to Summit of Golden Horn & back to Trailhead – 10 hours.   

Total Mileage:   around 12-14 miles

Total Elevation Gain: around 7300’


Gear used:   Trekking Poles.

Mount Hardy from the Swamp Creek Turnout parking area.


The views start really kicking in at the burn area.


Golden Horn and Tower Mountain from Mount Hardy Summit.


Looking back at Mount Hardy on the way down the ridge to Methow Pass.


Start of Snowy Lakes Trail from Pacific Crest Trail.  


Snowy Lakes Area.  


Sunrise on Mount Hardy.


Golden Horn Summit.


Final section to Golden Horn Summit.


Summit view from Golden Horn, Mount Hardy in the Middle.  


Gear Notes:
Trekking Poles. Bug Net.

Approach Notes:
Swamp Creek to Methow Pass to Snowy Lakes
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Wow, I want to do that trip. Thank you for the good photos.

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It has been so long since I've been in that area (more than 20 years) that I need to go back!  I hardly remember how good the views are!  Thanks for the report...

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