Fri 26 Sep 14

This post has been sitting in my draft folder for a month! Life is busy. Anyway, better late than never…

Jordan flew up for a long weekend a couple weekends ago and we ran around the mountains. Namely, the North Cascades.

Day 1:

When we left Yakima I had some ideas of overnight hike options. Armed and ready with printed topo maps and possible destinations. But four hours later as we talked with the ranger charged with permitting our adventure, for some reason we scrapped those plans and picked a totally different trail – to Terror Basin. Probably because the name was awesome.

We had a little difficulty finding the Goodell Creek trailhead (which would lead us to Terror) and weren’t boots-on-the-ground until close to 5 pm, seemingly destined for another race against darkness. We coasted through the first hour on a well-traveled gently sloping trail, but about 3.5 miles in we found ourselves pseudo-bushwhacking in the fading light on steeper slopes trying to follow an occasional orange flag helpfully hung in the approximate direction we needed to head.

We reached Terror Creek just before sunset and promptly lost any sign of the scrap of trail we’d been following. We knew were were supposed to climb a steep ridge at some point after reaching Terror Creek, but now looking straight up the adjacent walls, the prospect of bushwhacking seemed daunting and unpleasant. I floated the idea of maybe hiking back out the way we’d come from in the morning and hiking the Cascade Pass trail instead. It seemed a shame to turn around but it’d also be a shame for Jordan to fly up and spend a miserable day clawing through vine maple and devil’s club without any guarantee of a payoff.

We set up our tent on the only flatish spot we could find near the river and hoped the decision would be clear in the morning.

Day 2:

In the morning we woke to clear skies and glimpses of the southern Pickets in the distance. Still far, far away if we couldn’t locate a trail. We packed up, ready to head back to the car, but as we walked back down the river bank I spotted something on the far side that at least hinted at being traveled before. I checked it out. Hmm, it goes straight up hill and has definitely been people-walked before. Let’s go!

We clawed upward (vertical crawling at times) and, thankfully, the trail for the most part remained obvious until we reached the top of the ridge. In the half mile from Terror Creek to the ridge we climbed 1,700 vertical feet. On the ridge we turned north into a mix of bushwhacking, game trails, and people trails. And finally sporadic breaks in the treeline. Here’s a garter snake on the trail, some tree-gap views, and Jordan negotiating the “trail”.

We were treated to copious blueberries and huckleberries at easy picking level for most of the ridge. And a few signs of bears, but only signs, nothing more exciting. We broke through the trees for good at about 5,200 ft elevation. We rewarded our hard work with lunch on a rock enjoying the views. Berries. Jordan checking out Mt Despair. Pinnacle Peak. The barrier.

We continued up, hoping to locate a water source (presumably snow melt) and a suitable camp spot, and crested to massive views of Terror Basin and the Southern Pickets. Pinnacle Peak. Jordan in front of the Southern Pickets (Mt Degenhardt, Inspiration Peak, McMillan Spires).

I kept climbing up The Barrier, topping out at 7,119 ft, while Jordan located snow. Some shots from my high point on The Barrier. Mt Terror. View up the rest of The Barrier. Terror Glacier. View back down Goodell Creek (long way back to the car!).

Looking down Crescent Creek Basin, with Mt Baker and Mt Shuksan in the distance. Me on top of The Barrier.

After the scramble up The Barrier I was thoroughly out of water and happy to find a few snow-melt trickles ribboning through the rocks.

Stopped for a few more views on the way back down to find Jordan.

Jordan had found snow next to a nice spot to camp. We relaxed the rest of the day, enjoying the views, cooking dinner, and letting clothes dry out.

Day 3:


We cooked breakfast, took morning photos, and then headed down.

Back into the woods. Jordan negotiating the super steep trail.

Creek crossing at Terror Creek. Left photo is the log jam we crossed on the way up and right photo is the route we waded on the way back (Jordan getting ready to cross, don’t slip!).

Another half mile past Terror Creek we were finally back on a normal trail. My legs at the end of the hike, ravaged by the bushwhack. Great trip!