Dark Peak Had a Shady Side / 黯然峯有陰暗的一面

Climbers don’t often talk about Dark Peak for its grand views. The “brushy approach” is usually the first thing that comes to people’s minds. But the trip came out to be more enjoyable than last weekend’s outing.

Dark Peak at the head of the basin
Dark Peak at the head of the basin

See more trip photos here.

Dark Peak at a Glance

Access: Stehekin, Washington
Round Trip: 27.7
Elevation Range: 1600′-8122′
Gear: helmet, crampons, ice ax
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no

Lake Chelan to High Bridge

Like Bonanza Slam, climbing Dark Peak also involved logistical planning. Plus, I needed the right weather window. So I continued to monitor the forest throughout the week. In other words, all the stars needed to align to make this a successful trip.

First, it was the 3-hour ferry ride to Stehekin. Next, the 10-mile shuttle ride put me at High Bridge in the early afternoon. Then I left the campground right after. The trail part of the trip involved hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). So my goal was to go up to the lower basin before dark.

Ferry ride on Lake Chelan
Ferry ride on Lake Chelan

See more trip photos here.

Swamp Creek Trail

Swamp Creek Trail didn’t get much use these days. So people who access it would likely climb Dark Peak. The path was hard to follow at first. But later, it stayed parallel to the water. Glad I found the big log by the creek and crossed it to the east side.

I continued on the trail for a quarter of a mile. But then I lost the path. So I ended up spending some time fighting my way through the brush. As a result, I didn’t make it up to the lower basin until after dark. But I was glad to have taken care of that part.

Swamp Creek Basin sky
Swamp Creek Basin sky

See more trip photos here.

Dark Peak Climb Plus Summit Views

Getting to the upper basin was also a workout. I lost the decent trail some point. But I managed to find my way. Soon, the view made up for the agony. I didn’t see tracks in the snow. So I kicked steps for the next 3000′ up to the saddle. Glad the group of four Mountaineers folks could make use of my trail.

The terrain was now snow-free from the saddle up to the summit. It felt so surreal to see Bonanza Peak up close since I was just up there with friends last year. I stayed long enough to savor the views and photographed. Then I made my way down.

Dark Peak summit
Dark Peak summit

See more trip photos here.

Swamp Creek Camp and Out

I met the climbers just above the saddle as they came up. Then later, I saw them again in the lower basin on their way down. Then we all hiked back to the PCT together and camped by the trail. We all needed to get an early start to go down to High Bridge. So we could catch the shuttle back to Stehekin.

I bought a seaplane ticket for an early return to Chelan. So I could pick up the pups from boarding the same day. So thankful for planes! Not sure if I had the patience for another 3-hour boat ride back to civilization.

Summit bliss on Dark Peak
Summit bliss on Dark Peak

See more trip photos here.

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