All photos from this trip can be found here.
This was a trip to remember as it took us a lot of will power just to get to camp. The six-mile hike to the Chancellor/Mill Creek trail junction was smooth sailing, but four of the five miles on Mill Creek trail was just brutal. Apparently the trail has not been in much use since the closing of the Azurite Mine and most of the trail was covered in massive slide alder, shrubs, and down trees.
It took the dogs and me four hours to get through the four miles. We got to the mine in late afternoon, so I scratched the idea of bagging Azurite and settled on just bagging Mount Ballard. From as far as my eyes could see, the brush continued for the next three miles to Azurite Pass. I was somewhat mentally shaken all the bushwhacking, so we called it a day after pitching the tent.
We camped directly at the base of Ballard, so the route to the top was straightforward. Getting through the brush at the base and finding the right gully to make the final scramble were the cruxes of the climb. The dogs required help getting up a couple of higher exposure sections, other than that there were no major issues.
Beautiful day with gorgeous views of many of Washington’s 100 highest peaks, couldn’t help but to keep starting at Azurite Peak at south end of the ridge during most of our stay. Still got a long rest of the day ahead of us before making it out to the car.