Weekend Trip to Leavenworth, WA: Day 2 – Icicle Ridge via Fourth of July Creek hike

After packing up camp in the morning, we headed to the Fourth of July Creek trailhead located just a few kilometres up the Icicle Creek Road. The Icicle Ridge hike is locally infamous for rattlesnakes, ticks, dust, and the heat furnace effect in the summer. Lucky for us, this early in the season, we encountered none of these things. Some people saw a tick or two but nobody got bitten.

The stats for this hike are 19 km and 1330 m elevation change, so it’s a very serious hike even without the snow. For more information about the hike, read here.

The hike begins as a pleasant stroll through breezy Ponderosa pine forest dotted with blooming balsamroots, with some creek crossings and a very gentle incline. The middle part of the hike is a rather steep climb with switchbacks. I guess this is where the dusty part is, but in early May we didn’t see any dust and in fact started encountering snow patches. Up, and up, and we see a forest of dead white trees. It’s a remnant of some long-ago fire. This place is kind of eerie -white snow, dead white trees (some burnt) and an endless blue sky. Finally, the trail completely disappeared in a vast snow field.

Blooming balsamroots on the first portion of the trail

 

The forest of dead trees

 

View of the Enchantments on the other side of the very narrow Icicle River Valley

 

The ridge crest visible through the trees

We took a rest on a rocky outcrop and some of the group decided to head back down.  I was ready to call it a day too. It was late afternoon already, and I had to be back at work in Vancouver the next day. Most frustratingly, so far it’s been a hike of one view, of a very narrow valley with steep walls. The rest of the people in the car I was a passenger in decided to press on to the crest, which seemed hours away to my exhausted brain. Reluctantly, I started climbing on the snow field as well, but I was falling through the snow knee deep with every step. It was the most frustrating experience. My boots were full of melting snow. For the first time in my life, I decided not to finish a hike because I was too frustrated and didn’t believe the views at the end would be any different. I called out to my friends and started walking down. Of course, I got lost in the middle of that mountain as soon as I lost sight of them. There is no trail on the snowfield, so I was following someone’s footsteps, but it appeared that person was not too sure of where to go either. I could no longer see my friends and was all alone on that mountain. After a few moments (or more like 15 minutes) of panic, I walked down far enough to be out of the snow field and luckily I found the trail, where I patiently waited for my friends to come down. They reported amazing views from the top in all directions, but a very treacherous climb to the viewpoint. In retrospect, I regretted not finishing the hike, but on that day I was just happy to get off the mountain and change into dry shoes. It was already around 8pm when we left Leavenworth, so I was home past midnight.

Read about Leavenworth trip – Day 1

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