Placeholder Routes & Places

Trip Report    

Backpack - Spider Gap, Lyman Lakes & Buck Creek Pass

6 day late September backpack of the classic Spider Gap - Buck Creek Pass Loop

  • Road recommended for high clearance only
  • The route goes up Spider Glacier, which technically has been re-classified as a permanent snow field, over Spider Gap, and down a snow field to Upper Lyman Lakes. The back-country rangers recommended following the cairns up the rocks on the right side of Spider Glacier. The cairns were sparse but could be found. Farther up Spider Glacier where following the rocks lead to increased exposure risk, we choose to micro-spike up the final snow field. For us, the snow field was solid with no open crevasses. The route on the north side of Spider Gap goes down the snow field. The rangers recommended using micro-spikes to go down the snow (or ice) fields. Note: there are several open creeks. As with other trip reports, do not follow the obvious trail that traverses east (or right).

    Our trip traveled counter clockwise going from Cloudy Pass to the PCT southbound, then trail 789 to Buck Creek Pass. The trail crosses Middle Ridge. This is important because there are a couple of Yellow Jacket nests on both the north (around 5700') and south side (not sure of the elevation) of  Middle Ridge. The Yellow Jackets are very aggressive and stinging. The nests are right beside the trail.



We set up a shuttle between the Phelps Creek TR and the Trinity TR. Note that the road to the Phelps Creek TR has deep ruts and is only suitable for vehicles with high clearance. We had a Toyota Highlander and a Toyota Rav4, both made it up the road with no problems.  The parking at Phelps Creek TR is minimal, not only due to hikers but also hunters.

Note that the end of September is hunting season. Hunting is allowed in Spider Meadows. 

We camped near the trail junction to Phelps Basin, at 5300'. The camp was roomy with a near-by water source. A side trip to Phelps Basin showed great colors, ringed by peaks.  Note that the camp up a little higher, at 6200', is in a beautiful setting with beautiful views of Spider Meadows and the surrounding mountain ranges including Seven Fingered Jack and Mount Maude.  The Larch trees around Upper Lyman Lakes are late this year. As of Sept 21st, the Larch trees were still lime green. However, the fall colors (red and yellow) were all spectacular. It is already obvious why this is one of the classic hikes of Washington. That was night two. Our night three camp was at Cloudy Pass. Wow, what a view of  the Lyman Lake basin and the surrounding peaks. Note that the water source is about a third of a mile back towards Lyman Lake. There is also a toilet beyond the creek. The morning of day four found rain approaching with a full rainbow encompassing our camp. (I wish I had my camera out). Day four was a hike in the rain, where we had to be vigilant about keeping our gear dry. It also provided an excellent opportunity  to practice setting up tents/camp in the rain, while staying dry and getting warm. As usual not all 'water proof' boots are really water proof. I'd recommend if you have leather boots, consider greasing them even if they have a so-called water proof liner. Day five found us encountering the nasty aggressive yellow jackets. We had several bee stings. We also had anti sting cream in our first aid, which would be recommended, and a couple PLB(s). Night five was at the 5900'  camp  with a good water source and good views. Unfortunately Glacier Peak and the surrounding mountains never came out, providing incentive to return. All in all, the hike had three spectacular days, and a couple days of opportunity to try out gear in the rain.

Note: the reason for 4 stars instead of 5 is only because of our weather conditions. With good weather, an end of  September hike of this loop would be 5 out of 5 (or maybe a little more). Highly recommended.