Sopwith Camel Mountain via Tunnel Creek / 索普威思駱駝山

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Sopwith Camel Mountain by Lux Peak rises above Tunnel Creek south of Stevens Pass and Cowboy Mountain. At the same time, it overlooks Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) winding through the basin below. The peak’s unique name comes from the British First World War fighter aircraft.

Leaving Sopwith Camel Mountain behind
Leaving Sopwith Camel Mountain behind

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Sopwith Camel Mountain at a Glance

Access: NF-6095 at Highway 2 hairpin turn
Round Trip: 7 miles
Elevation Range: 2640′-5040′
Gear: snowshoes
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: yes

The Hairpin Turn

I’ve driven through the Highway 2 hairpin turn many times. However, I’ve never had to park by the highway at Tunnel Creek. But it was our starting point on the trip because snow had blocked the entrance.

I pulled off at the turn by the snow berms. It was nerve-racking even in the light traffic. There was only fewer than two small car width of tight space. Most of us swoosh through this sharp corner without realizing it!

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Northwest Ridge

As soon as we got on top of the four-foot-tall snow berm, we began to posthole. We walked the service road for a short way. Then I knew there was no point in waiting to put on snowshoes. I had expected to see ski trails. But even the most recent tracks looked days old.

We walked for another half a mile and then crossed the bridge over Tunnel Creek. Then we turned left onto the first spur road with an open gate. The path wasn’t on the map. But we used it and moved up to the ridge. Soon, we made two short switchbacks through the brush and scrambled toward the ridgeline in soft snow.

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On the Ridgetop

We stepped out into a clearing below the crest with a giant transmission tower over our heads. We had views on both sides, including the impressive north face of K9. Then back in the forest, we moved more quickly. The snow was now firm. Plus, we could rely on the decent snow to go over lots of down trees.

From the false peak at 5000′, we had Cowboy Mountain and Lumiere Ridge‘s glimpses to the north. Then we moved east and reached the real summit within minutes. Several openings on the woodsy summit gave views to the top of the faraway peaks. I had thought about going up to Lux Peak. But I felt sluggish after breaking trail to come up here. Warm temperatures on this gorgeous day!

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Sopwith Camel Mountain Summit Plus Two Lakes

With a modest elevation of over 5000′, Sopwith Camel Mountain sat among the taller places. Because of the forested summit, the views weren’t excellent. But there were still some. I saw K9’s north side to the southwest from a small opening. After a pleasant stay on top, we started to head down.

I wanted to make use of the gorgeous weather. So we paid a visit to the two lakes on the south side. Mig Lake and Hope Lake were right next to the PCT, with Mig Lake 300′ higher. Both ponds were less than half a mile apart. I bet this place is busy when the hiking season is in full swing.

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Outro

We exited the basin via Hope Lake’s outlet by the Alpine Lakes Wilderness sign. Because of the snow, it was now at the ground level. I had thought about snowshoeing in the direction of the summer trail. But the steep sidestepping became arduous quickly. Then I realized we couldn’t do that the entire way. So we dropped down to the snow streambed.

For the most part, we were able to stay on top of the snow. A couple of sections had steep drop-offs. So we bypassed them from either left or right. As the terrain flattened, we left the creek and scrambled onto the road. Soon, we met our tracks by the open gate in half a mile. Then we continued back to the highway.

Outro through the streambed
Outro through the streambed

See more trip photos here.

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