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[TR] North Fork Sauk - Pilot Ridge Loop 10/1/2012


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Trip: North Fork Sauk - Pilot Ridge Loop


Date: 10/1/2012


Trip Report:

I'm not one to normally rave about backpacking trips, but this trip was unexpectedly spectacular and pleasant. My wife and I were lucky enough to find childcare for a long weekend at the end of September/early Oct. and get out to enjoy the fall colors on this loop. Wow!! Miles and miles of alpine splendor! My verdict, it should be on everyone's list who likes that sort of thing (even climbers). The loop is about 30 miles roundtrip, and you don't need to car shuttle. Good camps abound, though water is somewhat scarce in late season (we camped at White Pass and Blue lake- good camps and abundant water). Side trips included White Mtn for sunrise, Kodak peak for a chat with a speedo clad gentleman and his dog, and Johnson Peak to check out an old LO site. Blue lake has feisty Rainbows, in case you are into fishing.


But don't just take my word for it, the photos don't lie (and these pictures don't do it justice)......










Sunset at our White Pass Camp:



Mt. Pugh at sunrise from White Mtn:



PCT at White Pass from White Mtn:









Glacier Peak from near Dishpan Gap:



Summit Chief, Chimney Rock, Overcoat (L-R):



Sloan, Bedal, etc. (L-R):









Mt Pugh:







Sloan Peak:



Mts. Daniel and Hinman:



Mt. Pugh, and Whitechuck (L-R):



Monte Cristo Peak:



You do have to cross the NF Sauk, but there are good logs to walk:





NF Sauk Old Growth:



Gear Notes:

Whiskey, fishing tackle, decadent food. It's backpacking baby!


Approach Notes:

Easy drive from Darrington on 2WD roads. Hike NF Sauk trail to White Pass, turn south on PCT, head to Dishpan Gap, turn west to Blue lake and Pilot Ridge, following it westwards to the junction with NF Sauk trail. Hike back to your car and quaff beer.

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Thanks for the compliments! Gene, you're mostly right. I went back and added some captions to clarify some of the peaks. Hopefully it helps.


Oh, and we took three easy days with time for meadow lounging, peak bagging, and fishing. Such a good trip!

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Nice. What are those Dr. Suess truffela tree looking things called? I've never looked them up.


Cool that you got to do that with your wife. I have one of those relationships where she likes hiking and backpacking, climbing not so much. Helps me reconnect with backpacking and reminds me I don't have to get a high point every time I go in the mountains.

Edited by Nater
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If the Suiattle road Ever reopens(Jack ass evnironwackos and their lawsuits without any basis, and moron judges allowing said frivolous lawsuits in the first place), the Image Lake--> Canyon Lake--> Stonehedge ridge traverse --> Down Sulpher mountain trail, or reverse order is likewise spectacular, though this is quite a bit of off trail and not well maintained trail. If it doesn't open, take bikes. Its an easy hour bike ride even with packs.


The loop you did is still my favorite, anywhere in the state, though take an extra day to divert to Glacier Peak Meadows on the other side of Red Pass. Make sure to check out Pilot Peak and the Jet BLACK volcano plug just to the west of the PCT.

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Thanks. With running in mind, it might be a little less casual... :grin:


I've seen 9600' of gain and 31 miles written, but haven't measured it myself on a map. Pretty casual days if you are used to that sort of thing. Plenty of time in three days to scramble peaks, take a nap, go fishing, etc.
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Although I had a 50 something friend hike/run the loop a month ago and it took him around 13 hours or so....and he's no super man. Of course, Leor could probably do it in 6 hours flat. I, on the other hand, am slow and prefer to take pictures, tag summits, and catch fish. That's my excuse at least.

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