Mother Lode Peak + Crescent Mountain in Lake Chelan-Sawtooth / 寶藏峯

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Mother Lode Peak and Crescent Mountain in Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness stand high above South Creek. Both places are just five miles south of Washington Pass. The closeness of the two also makes them doable in one trip.

Mother Lode Peak from Crescent Mountain
Mother Lode Peak from Crescent Mountain

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Mother Lode Peak and Crescent Mountain at a Glance

Access: South Creek Trailhead
Round Trip: 16 miles
Elevation Range: 3160′-7905′
Gear: helmet, snowshoes, ice ax, crampons
Route Info: Eric Eames
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: with guidance

Celebrating 11 Years of One Hike A Week

We were last in the area four years ago. The pups and I have made many memories here too. So it was exciting to revisit during the final weekend of my 11th anniversary of hiking once a week. Woot!

It’s the dogs’ first overnight trip this year. I would have taken them out sooner. But I wanted to tackle some places in The Enchantments first, starting with Mountaineer Ridge.

Twisp River in the AM
Twisp River in the AM

See more trip photos here.

South Creek Trail Closure

I started researching accessible places in the area last week. Then I stumbled across the South Creek Trail closure page. So the news had put a significant damper on the weekend’s plan.

The Forest Service had closed off access at mile 2.5 on May 12. But the path only went through a small part of the private property. So the gated closure didn’t make any sense to me.

South Creek Trail closure
South Creek Trail closure

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Bypassing Trail Closure

There’s a marked boundary, and the southern ended at 4300′. So I wanted to try bypassing by going up higher. I had a backup plan in case the idea didn’t pan out.

So we took Louis Lake Trail at the first junction. Then we left the path at 4200′, trying to cross Louis Creek. But the ravine had forced us to go higher. Later we found a log at 4400′ and crossed the raging water.

Bridge over South Creek
Bridge over South Creek

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Through the Old Burn

We stayed at 4400′ as the bypass took us through an old burn north of Point 6576. Though, I didn’t remember seeing it before. As it turned out, Crescent Mountain Fire had swept over the area in 2018.

After we went past the property boundary, we dropped down to South Creek at 4300′. Then we crossed the water on a log jam back to the north side. Soon, we found the trail a little way up the hill.

This way to Mother Lode Peak
This way to Mother Lode Peak

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Lake 6768 Below Mother Lode Peak

I put on snowshoes at 4500′. Then at 4.5 miles from the trailhead, we left the trail and went uphill. Meanwhile, we stayed west of Lake 6768’s outlet on steep slopes.

Later we moved east of the stream to avoid cliffs. Views started to expand at 6200′, where I could see the dramatic landscape across the valley. Before long, we reached the serene pond.

Mother Lode Peak above the basin
Mother Lode Peak above the basin

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Mother Lode Peak Climb

I set up the tent among some trees by the windy lakeshore. It flurried during which. Later we walked around the west shore to the north. From there, it’s a direct route up to the ridgetop.

As we went higher on steep snow, I kept turning around to check out the southern landscape. Mount Gibbs alone filled the bulk of the skyline. The steepness sustained up to the ridgeline.

Mother Lode Peak 1000 feet above
Mother Lode Peak 1000 feet above

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Mother Lode Peak Summit Views

The final 100′ was on loose rocks. Though, I managed to guide the pups through the broken ridge crest up to the top. But where would I even begin with the views?!

The notable Gilbert Mountain, Big Kangaroo, and Goode Mountain were just a few among the countless Cascades mountains. Then to the east was Crescent Mountain, our next day’s goal.

Northern panoramic view from Mother Lode Peak
Northern panoramic view from Mother Lode Peak

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A Night by Lake 6768

The excellent snow made plunge-stepping possible. So it only took a short while to drop 1000′ down to the lake. Though overcast, the evening colors had breathed some life into this basin.

The weekend’s forecast was mostly sunny. Yet it rained and flurried a bit before midnight. Plus, it was sub-freezing overnight. But what is not to love about the erratic Cascades weather?

Back to Lake 6768 Basin
Back to Lake 6768 Basin

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Leaving Mother Lode Peak and Lake Basin

I set the alarm for 5 AM in the hope of getting an early start. But the cold made it hard to go outside the tent. So by the time we started walking, it was already 9 o’clock!

It’s not my favorite thing to do with a full pack. But we needed to move into the adjacent basin to climb Crescent Mountain. So we snowshoed up 800′ to South Creek Butte’s north saddle.

Camp view
Camp view

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Crescent Mountain Climb

Later we went into Crescent Mountain’s south basin. The initial 200′ drop was steep, but bless the crampons! West ridge didn’t look conducive to traversing. So we made our way over to the south gully instead.

At 7000′, I stashed my pack in some trees and carried just the essentials. I kept the crampons on for the 800′ ascent as we zigzagged our way up the steep terrain. The final 100′ here was also free of snow.

Looking down in the south gully
Looking down in the south gully

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Crescent Mountain Summit Views

Like yesterday, it went from a bluebird morning to an overcast sky by the late AM. But clouds stayed just high enough to reveal everything in the North Cascades.

The nearby McAlester Mountain, Bowan Mountain, and West Level Peak stood out the most on this trip. Then there were the unmistakable Bonanza Peak and Oval Peak off in the distance.

Southern panoramic view from Crescent Mountain
Southern panoramic view from Crescent Mountain

See more trip photos here.

Outro

I grabbed my pack back at 7000′. Then we continued south in the gully and went through the old burn. Soon, we made our way down the ridge east of the basin creek to reach the trail.

We hiked a short distance before leaving the trail again. Then we crossed South Creek at the same spot. From there, we repeated the bypass to the other side of the private land to finish the trip.

Nearing the end
Nearing the end

See more trip photos here.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Peggy Shih

    Congratulations on 11 year anniversary of One-Hike a Week. Thank you for all the beautiful, scenic photos and posts of your hikes, John.

    1. onehikeaweek

      Thanks, Peggy! It’s been a wild and fun ride, especially the trips with the pups.

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