Date Index Person/Place Index Person/Date Index Place/Person Index Place/Date Index Time Index Home

John Guilford's Hikes

Mt. Pilchuck / Bathtub Lakes Region on 2004-09-03

Date: 2004-09-03

Location: Mt. Pilchuck / Bathtub Lakes Region

People: (including myself): Joe Tarantino, Jay Wardle, Brian Barton, Dave Rasmussen, Dean Payne, Don, David, and Jon Hiller, and Julian

				Alt.	Miles
Lv Everett:		11:15
Granite Falls:		12:00
Trailhead:		12:55	2660	0
Bear Lake:		1:05	2776	0.3
Ridge:			1:30	3240
Pinnacle Lake:		2:00	3780	1.9
Bottom Iodine Gulch:	2:20	
Top Iodine Gulch:	3:10	4680	2.1
Bathtub Lakes:		3:40	~4700	2.6
Start Ridge Line:	4:00	
Meet Jon and Julian:	4:20
Meet Jay and Don:	4:40	~5000
Saddle:			5:30	4980
Main trail:		5:43
Lookout:		5:46	5324	~4
Leave Lookout:		6:16
Out:			7:55	3150	~7
This hike was a repeat of my previous "after work hike" three years earlier ( 2001-08-14). This time we had ten people involved.  One, Dean, just climbed Pilchuck and went back down.  Joe, Brian, Dave, and myself went westward from Bear Lake to Pilchuck.  And Jay, Don, and the rest went eastward from Pilchuck to Bear Lake.  Again, this allowed us to avoid the time killing car swapping that would have been necessary if we all went together. 

The weather was low clouds.  Up on the mountain we were in the fog and mist most of the time.  This kept things a bit cooler during the ascent, but it meant no views.  Given my druthers, I would have preferred a clearer day and put up with the sun. 

[ PIX1 ] A few minutes into the hike one gets to Bear Lake.  [ PIX2 ] From there we could see the ridgeline behind the lake completely buried in the clouds.  Taking the other fork to Pinnacle Lake, the trail crosses a creek on a wooden bridge and starts switchbacking up the hillside.  A half hour later we reached the ridge.  From there the trail continues climbing as it approaches Pinnacle Lake, but at a more reasonable pitch.  I was somewhat surprised how muddy the trail was.  I hadn't seen it that muddy before.  In another half hour we got to Pinnacle Lake

[ PIX3 ] [ PIX4 ] After crossing the lake's outflow, we skirted around the left side of the lake to the bottom of Iodine Gulch and started ascending.  Iodine Gulch is steep with only a barely defined boot track leading up.  Still, I thought the boot track was more well defined than in past times.  One can either follow the track or make up the path oneself.  The direction is obvious - straight up the gulch.  Part way up the correct route veers a bit to the right, though this is pretty obvious once you get there.  Some of [ PIX5 ] the time you are on broken rock, some of the time on dirt.  [ PIX6 ] On the way up the gulch, we heard several marmots and pikas.  It looked like excellent terrain for them. Nine hundred feet later, you scramble up the steep top part of the gulch to emerge on the edge of the Bathtub Lakes area.  Here we saw a family(?) of ptarmigans (?).  There appeared to be a mom with two kids behind her, with another bird across the trail.  Up on top we also met two hikers who ascended the gulch just before us - Yetiman and a friend. 

[ PIX7 ] After some photos and a brief rest and a snack, we continued on into the Bathtub Lakes.  It was a bit cooler up here after the climb up Iodine Gulch, and I put on my sweatshirt. 

[ PIX8 ] The Bathtub Lakes area is a really neat piece of country.  Due to the difficulty of getting there it seems rather untraveled and beautiful.  It is a land of rock, grass, and lakes and ponds.  Given more time, it would be fun to climb to the ridge line and look down into Lake 22 (on a clearer day) and wander the lakes and explore.  In our case, we pretty much pushed straight through in order to get down before dark.  The path is well blazed by yellow painted arrows and dots on the rocks that indicate a fairly direct path through to the narrower ridge line. 

At the west end of the Lakes region, the boot track (calling it a trail would be overly generous) steeply climbs up onto the ridge leading towards Pilchuck's summit.  The way leads up and down along the ridge line, sometimes on decent trail sometimes on yellow blazed rock.  On a clearer day you are treated to great views down into the Heather Lake basin.  [ PIX9 ] We were only treated to views of fog and mist.  This might have been a blessing as there are spots along the way with a bit of exposure that might bother some people, especially if they can see all the way down to the lake.  It was along this ridge [ PIXa ] line that we met the other half of our party heading eastward.  After stopping to help Jay with a boot repair where his sole came unglued, we each continued our separate ways.  At the east end of the ridge one can see the north face of Pilchuck and the lookout on top.  From here the way descends and crosses a saddle before veering to the left and climbing yet another gully up to the normal trail to the lookout.  It sort of seems unfair - when you follow this route going westward, with the exception of the switchbacks up from Bear Lake, almost all of your elevation gain is going up steep terrain on poor boot tracks.  It is definitely a thigh burner. 

After reaching the normal trail, it is only a couple minutes before you get to the lookout.  There we rested and ate.  There still wasn't much of any view, though the clouds did seem to be breaking up a bit. 

[ PIXb ] Coming down from the lookout on a real trail seemed easy compared to the terrain we had been on.  Again we heard pikas and saw several.  The trail from the lookout down to the trailhead is in good shape.  They had improved it with steps and other things designed to prevent erosion compared to the last time I recall using the trail.  The clouds did break a bit on our way down, giving occasional glimpses of blue sky. 

We got down just as it was getting dark.  Dark came a bit earlier than it had three years ago due to the cloud cover.  This time, the eastbound group took longer, coming down a half hour after we did and using flashlights for the last part. 


[ PIX1 ] Dave crossing a bridge just above Bear Lake. 

[ PIX2 ] Pinnacle Lake.  Iodine Gulch leads up to the left from about one third of the way from the left of the picture. 

[ PIX3 ] Brian, Dave, and Joe starting up Iodine Gulch. 

[ PIX4 ] Joe half way up Iodine Gulch.  The correct path leads up the right fork visible in the background. 

[ PIX5 ] Looking down Iodine Gulch at Dave from half way up.  Pinnacle Lake is just visible through the trees.

[ PIX6 ] Climbing up the top part of Iodine Gulch. 

[ PIX7 ] Joe and Brian crossing through the Bathtub Lakes area. 

[ PIX8 ] Another view of Joe and Brian in the Bathtub Lakes. 

[ PIX9 ] Joe and Brian climbing into the mists along the ridgeline above Heather Lake. 

[ PIXa ] The north face of Mt. Pilchuck with the lookout visible on top. 

[ PIXb ] Pika on the rocks. 

Date Index Person/Place Index Person/Date Index Place/Person Index Place/Date Index Time Index Home
Please send comments or corrections to
Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015