Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Vernal Park Traverse

A pristine alpine loop through the verdant meadows of Vernal Park, by way of Berkeley Park, Grand Park, Van Horn Falls, Windy Gap, Sluiskin Col, Old Desolate (south and north), Morraine Park, Mystic Pass, Mineral Mountain, Mystic Lake, and 2nd Burroughs. This strenuous 4 day trip was ~12,000’ of gain over ~40 miles.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Almost perfect conditions for this gorgeous alpine traverse (weather and otherwise).  The only caveat included high winds and rain at our 1st evening camp (Sluiskin Col), through the morning of our second day.  After some anxious tent bound waiting, drier conditions prevailed enabling our steep 1200’ descent into Vernal Park (much one-person-move-at-a-time technique allowed us to completely avoid any loose rock injuries).  The bridge is in at the W. fork White River crossing near Van Horn falls, however poor flagging gave us a few minutes playing ‘find the trail’, until recovering it just south of Van Horn falls.

We began and ended this pristine four day traverse at Sunrise, with the first day seeing us hike through Berkeley Park, Grand Park, Van Horn falls, and Windy Gap before traveling cross country to reach our camp at the col between Sluiskin Chief and Sluiskin Squaw (with gorgeous views of Willis Wall, including thundering ice avalanches).   On our short and misty second day we skipped a visit of Sluiskin Squaw (owing to bad weather) and descended into Vernal Park on our way to Old Desolate (south summit).  After a chilly 2nd evening in Vernal Park, we were greeted by frost covered heather on our 3rd morning, then ascended the northern summit of Old Desolate on our way to Morraine Park (all with sunny weather).  This was followed by cross country travel above Mystic Pass on our way to camp in the meadows west of Mineral Mountain at ~6200’.  We finished the day scrambling to the summit of Mineral Mountain, with the Mystic Lake ranger noting our presence from his cabin porch (discovered the following day).  Our last day started early (sunny and cool) for the sweaty Wonderland Trail hike up to Granite Creek Camp.  From there we scrambled cross country to 2nd Burroughs, before hiking the trail past Shadow Lake to Sunrise.  The respective hours for each day were 10.5 hours (Sunrise to Sluiskin col), 7 hours (Sluiskin Col to Old Desolate), 8 hours (Vernal Park camp, N. Old Desolate, Morraine Park, Mystic Pass, Mineral Mountain), and 6 hours (our last camp to Sunrise).  Photos from this and other trips to this venue can be seen here.