Over Fourth of July weekend, we hike up to Fortune Creek Pass through Esmeralda Basin in the Teanaway region of Washington's central Cascades. On the way up we pass gorgeous mountain meadows spiked with brilliant Indian paintbrush, shooting stars, and more.
Our hike began at the end of the road up the North Fork Teanaway basin, at a trailhead for numerous excellent Teanaway hikes. Here on the eastern crest of the Cascades, the landscape is more arid, with less thick underbrush and more pine trees.
I'd done this hike back in the 1990s, but this time we see many diseased and dying trees as we start up the trail—the curse of the pine beetle, fire suppression, and likely climate change. It's noticeably different.
But the healthy creek swollen with snowmelt is a nice contrast. As the trees transition to subalpine varieties, they appear healthier.
A mile or so up the trail, which angles up Esmeralda Basin at a gentle grade, we start passing more wildflowers. The real treat, though, is the brilliant meadow full of flowers.
|Magenta paintbrush in foreground|
We pass a few more meadows, amble along sideslopes, and walk up a few switchbacks to the last stretch through a quickly melting snowfield. Before I realize it, we've reached the saddle at Fortune Creek Pass. Overall it's a pretty mellow 3.5 miles here, ascending over 1,700 feet.
And the views!
|Fortune Creek Pass|
|Mt. Daniel in the distance.|
|Name that peak!|
So we pull out sit pads and take a leisurely break enjoying the view and our lunches. Not a bad way to spend a day.
Up here on the exposed ridge at almost 6,000 feet in elevation, the flowers are more sparse and hardy.
Since this is not a steep hike, the trek down doesn't batter the toes or knees like some downhill hikes can do. We stop and take lots more flower shots and wind up back at the trailhead a little less than 6 hours after we started.
Six hours has passed? Times flies when you're outdoors in a beautiful mountain valley surrounded by wildflowers, happy hikers, and sweet fresh air.
Have you hiked in the Teanaway too? Would love to hear about your trip or favorite hikes in the comments below.
Happy trails and thanks for visiting Pacific Northwest Seasons!
When You Go
A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead. From Seattle area, take I-90 east to Cle Elum, then exit east of town to Blewett Pass/SR 970. Take SR 970 north to the Teanaway Road. Follow the North Fork Teanaway Road to the 29 Pines Campground where the pavement ends at a fork in the road. Take the right fork, FR 9737, 10 miles to its end at trailhead #1394, Esmeralda Basin.
Don't forget your sunscreen! It gets hotter and drier here than on the western side of the mountains.