here Trail Blazer Vignettes: The Chilliwacks

Washington Trail Blazers

The Chilliwacks

Mike Swayne

July 24-29, 1961

This past summer Don Ihlenfeldt and myself made a combination climbing and surveying trip to the seldom visited Chilliwack area of the Cascade Mountains. Located Northeast of Mt. Baker between the Chilliwack River and Ross Lake, the area is what most would call inaccessible. The area is bordered on two sides by horse trails but these are fifteen miles from the nearest road, and inside the region we visited there were no trails at all. Travel in the valleys was generally brushy and the sides of the ridges were steep, rocky, and brushy.

It is not an area that can be visited quickly, so Don and I decided on 5 or 6 days. Also, wanting to travel as far and as fast as we could, we limited ourselves to only very essential items. To conserve weight we took no sleeping bags and ate dried food. We did, however, have ropes and hardware for climbing.

Our approach was by way of Hannegan Pass and Indian Creek, although some have come in by way of Perry Creek, tributary of Ross Lake. A boat was to be used, however, to get up and down the lake as there is no trail on the west side that far North.

The high points of the trip for both of us were the climbing of the highest peaks in the area: Mt. Redoubt (8956'); Glacier Peak (8894'); and Bear Mountain (7942'); We also had a chance to look at some lakes that not many people had seen before. The first and best, in our opinion, was Bear Lake. In a perfect alpine setting at 6000' with a glacier descending right to the shore off the flanks of the massive Mt. Redoubt to the north, and an unexcelled view of the 3000' North Face of Bear Mountain to the south. We could not resist flopping ourselves down in the soft heather near the outlet and reveling in the beauty and magnitude of the scene. This was our base camp for three days while we climbed in the vicinity, but although the water was clear as crystal and smooth as glass we did not observe any rises or fish life of any kind. The lake is about 8 to 10 acres and quite deep and would probably support fish but it was our opinion that a lake such as this should remain barren. The food supply was not too plentiful and the water quite cold.

We also got a good view of the large lake on the north side of Glacier Peak that some call Glacier Lake. The closest we got to it was from the top of Glacier Peak but we could see even from there that it is doubtful if fish would live in a place like that. The map shows a large lake in this spot (which it is) about 30-40 acres but what it does not show is that its elevation is about 7000' - that it has a live glacier that extends out into its waters, or that there isn’t a tree or a brush growing within a mile of the place.

We saw a few other lakes from a distance but did not get a chance to check them closely. I am almost sure, however, that none of them have ever been planted.