Spider Gap Buck Creek Loop


I am sorry for being a bit late on posting about our Spider Gap Buck Creek Loop trip, Aug 1-6. As expected this 36 mile loop with 8000′ vertical was amazing and lived up to our high expectations.

Every year I do a loop like this with friends and when we have asked other backpackers what they believe to be the best loop, Spider Gap Buck Creek tends to be the winner. And it is truly an awesome loop complete with incredible vistas, challenging climbs and unique topography.

Spider Gap from Spider Meadow

We decided to take the counterclockwise route beginning with the Spider Meadow Phelps Creek trail. The meadow was beautiful but it was obvious that we had missed the high flower point by a few weeks.

Spider Gap Snow Field

Taking it easy the first day we planned for the Spider Gap climb which is broken into an initial 1000 ft climb on a fairly rugged rock trail and then another 1000 ft climb on up the snow field. The reward at the top was worth the climb.

The view into the Lyman Lakes Valley and Glacier was highlighted by rugged terrain which turned out to offer up a bit of a scare to us. We made the mistake of assuming the trail to the east would eventually wind down to the valley. Wrong, so I advised that we backtrack and go down the snow field. Unfortunately, Bob, who hates to backtrack decided to take the short cut down the mountain slope. This was not communicated well and we ended up getting separated from Bob.

Coming over Spider Gap

The outcome of this turned into a nervous search for Bob who did eventually turn up to relieve our fears after he had a bit of a hair raising descent down the side of the mountain ending up further down the valley. Our concern stemmed from the dangerous loose rock navigation that could easily result in a slide or a fall. But all was well and we settled in between the Lyman Lakes.

The following day took us over Cloudy Pass which lived up to its name. This is also about the time we began enjoying an over abundance of blueberries and huckleberries. We had a fun log stream crossing below Lyman Lakes. Again we kept losing Bob because he couldn’t resist stopping and eating the berries.

This is when we first saw the fires which have wreaked havoc with the PCT Trail closure. At this time the big fires over at Lake Chelan had not blown up yet. As we climbed over the pass we got to speak with many of the local Whistle Pig population.

This was also when we discovered that the detour to Stehekin was no longer an option for the PCT’ers. We went about half way to Image Lake and turned around figuring that the weather was not going to present us with enough reward. After talking to others who went over I think it was the right decision.

We had hoped to hike over to Image Lake which is a 2.4 miles. We went about a mile and decided we didn’t really need to go all the way. The views of Glacier Peak were excellent from where we were. (I did finally get to Image Lake and yes it is awesome) We camped across from Fortress Mountain. This was the Suiattle Pass Junction area where the PCT closure was spelled out.

We continued on with our loop up to Buck Creek Pass knowing that we would have time for a side hike. We setup camp at the top of the pass while the weather still looked good and we decided to do the Liberty Cap trail.

I highly recommend this route which offers fabulous views of Glacier Peak.

Will Clouds Lift off Glacier Peak

Well the weather started to change once we got up on Liberty Cap which caused us some concern but also offered beauty in the cloud formations.

Storm Approaching Glacier Peak

We got back to camp just in time to avoid the rain.

The next morning it was still miserable on the pass but we could see that there was sun in the valley on our route back to the Trinity Trailhead. The annual backpacking loop trip with friends was again a great success, however, this year I was set to continue on for a few more weeks.

Buck Ridge

My original plan was to get my resupply and go from Stevens Pass to Canada, however, the fires forced a change to that strategy. So I decided to go from Stevens Pass to Snoqualmie Pass for my next segment.

End of the Trail

About ghsmith76

Backpacker, Grandfather, Volunteer, Advisor, Mentor and still Technologically Aware. Greg retired as a technologist who served as a Chief Information Officer in Higher Education at various universities. Prior to the IT career in Academia, Greg was a Systems Consultant with Hewlett-Packard. Other early jobs included IT activity in the oil shale and coal mining industries along with owning a computer store in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Posted on August 19, 2015, in Backpacking, Hiking, North Cascades, PCT, Wilderness and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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