Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Wilson Park—Van Trump Park Traverse

An unnamed summit as well as many marmots on this gorgeous tour of Wilson and Van Trump Parks (and the cleaver between). A great workout on this counter clockwise traverse which included a cooling visit to Comet Falls and a final bit of exploration along the Nisqually River.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Early morning fog/dew led to wet meadow brush which dampened our clothing and boots.  Interestingly it left us with sticky arms/hands causing us to think of some kind of pitch?  As it turned out it washed off easily with cold stream water.  We brought crampons and did not use them (although came close a couple of times around ~8000’).  The cleaver crossing at ~8200’ had the usual chossy talus/scree which might have been less so with a traverse at a respectable distance above the cliff band (due to a lower angle of repose, orange line in this photo):


    The traverse to the Van Trump Park trail at ~7200’ required caution due to rapid streams undercutting snow fields in several places.

Great game trails from the Nisqually Bridge parking area quickly got us up to the meadows.  Our route to our unnamed 7500’ peak (bump in center of this photo) started west of the cleaver (to avoid wet brush)…


… then crossed back to the east side at ~7000’ through some carefully chosen avenues to avoid krummholz:


The unnamed summit, prime marmot real estate as suggested by scatological evidence.


A less aggressive trip (not our choice) which also avoids the chossy cleaver crossing at ~8200’ would be a clockwise loop of Wilson Park before descending back to the cars via the ascent route.


We continued towards the upper crossing via the ~7700’ notch (on the eastern edge of the southern lobe of the Wilson Glacier)…

7FA660BD-2941-4900-BACF-A58B1E4D4770.jpeg(photo by Jesse Bengtsson)

… with views of the Nisqually Glacier and the Muir snowfield:


Interesting rock sculptures along the Wilson Glacier/cleaver margin (the east side of the cleaver)…


… before the chossy crossing near ~8200’:


Returning to trail in Van Trump Park…


… followed by the welcoming cool mists of Comet Falls:


After careful consideration earlier in the day our group had volunteered to explore the possibility of an abandoned road bed between the Comet Falls trailhead and the Nisqually Bridge (thereby avoiding a hazardous road walk).  Although we did find this road bed between the Comet Falls trailhead and Christine Falls (roughly 100’ below the current road)…


… there was negligible evidence of this road bed (other than a set of curious cables) between Christine Falls and the Nisqually Bridge. Ultimately the brush forced us to rock hop along the Nisqually River (with a few diversions)…


… until finally glimpsing the Nisqually Bridge up ahead:


After a very reasonable (i.e. relatively brushless) ascent along the western edge of the stream flowing from Nahunta Falls, we intersected the Longmire-Paradise Road and a relatively wide walking area/shoulder back to the parking lot (possibly a vestige of our abandoned road bed ;).

A great day in the mountains with a very wide range of terrain.  Our total time was ~11 hours, with 3 hours to our unnamed summit, another 3 hours to our ~8200’ cleaver crossing, followed by 4 hours to Christine Falls.  The final ‘Nisqually River Beach Walk’ back to the cars took another hour. A great workout at ~12 miles and ~5000’ gain.  Photos from this and other trips to this venue can be seen here.