Call us larch groupies.
Yesterday I pretended to be a government employee and took off Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples Day to catch the glow before the next storm in a few days. My window to see this year's larch show was narrow, and I couldn't bear to miss this once-a-year magic.
Like I said, a passionate groupie.
On a Monday (albeit a minor holiday), the parking lot at the Lake Ingalls trailhead was full and overflowing. We started up the well-maintained trail at the end of the North Fork Teanaway Road (FR Road 9737) and soon encountered the dusting of snow that fell overnight.
Surrounded by rugged peaks laced with fresh snow here in the Teanaway region, the views all along the steady but not-too-steep trail are splendid.
A couple miles along, we passed a junction for Longs Pass and emerged above the forest. Even with freezing temps up at Ingalls Pass, I was warm enough to ditch my jacket and hike in just a T-shirt and long-sleeved shirt while slogging upward on the south-facing slope.
Nearing the top, I spied a few stray golden larches, but when I arrived at Ingalls Pass (just a tad under 6,500 feet in elevation and about 3 miles from the trailhead), I turned a corner to a magnificent panorama. Golden larches were sprinkled all over the slope and down into Headlight Basin below, a fresh coat of snow added contrast, and jagged Mt. Stuart towered overhead, mist shrouding its summit.
An awesome sight indeed.
|Cresting Ingalls Pass|
So we ate lunch and stayed at the pass for a while, taking pictures and reveling in the sun, snow, and general gorgeousness all around.
|Zoom shot of Mt. Stuart summit.|
|More Headlight Basin|
As we were driving back down the Teanaway River Valley (after about 10 miles of very rough, washboard dirt road), I would have liked to stop every few hundred yards to shoot the glorious fall colors along the Teanaway River. Next trip with an earlier start.
So golden larches bagged for this year, but I hope to see more this coming weekend, weather probably not permitting. I'd love to hear of your golden larch hikes/stories in the comments below!
When You Go
From Seattle, it's about a 2.5-hour, 140-mile drive to the trailhead. A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park. Be forewarned that this late in the season, snow and possible slides/rockfall from fall rains could obstruct the road/trail as the days slide into winter. While the 6-mile round trip, 2,500-foot elevation gain hike to Ingalls Pass isn't difficult, some might feel the elevation like my hiking buddy did. The trailhead is at about 4,000 feet elevation.
And another blogger says "I wouldn’t bother hiking to Ingalls Pass unless you’re going beyond to Ingalls Lake. The view isn’t very good compared to Longs Pass." Wow! Do you agree if you've been?