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4 days of backpacking Jackita Ridge, Devil's Dome, Ross Lake, & Ruby Creek loop (Pasayten Wilderness, North Cascades, WA) (3-6 Sept 2011)  
(Circumnavigating the Jack Mountain in Counterclockwise) --- about 44 miles with 10000 ft elev gain.

The event was a PWC sponsored event hosted by Jay Thompson and Kevin Koski during the Labor Day weekend.  I was very fortunate to backpack one of the gorgeous rugged loops with them in North Cascades for 4 days.   The backpacking trip was circumnavigating the Jack Mountain (9066 ft, 2763 m) which was located East of the man-made Ross Lake (23 miles long with up to 1.5 miles width), about 135 miles driving NNE from Seattle, WA.  It was near the Canadian border and the North Cascades National Park which is one of three National Parks in the Washington State.  Other two Parks are Olympic and Mt Rainier National Parks.  This was my first backpacking trip to the Cascades, other than dayhiking the Tuck and Robin Lakes (Alpine Lakes Wilderness) last year.  The Cascades mountain range is a major mountain range in western North America.  It runs from southern Canada (British Columbia), through Washington and Organ State, to Northern California.  The trip is one of premiere backpacking loops in a high country (over 5000 ft elev) in North Cascades.  

Here was my daily backpacking summary (All 4 days were perfect days with blue bird days at 50-80s Temp) (about 44 miles with 10000 ft elev gain):

Day 1 (Saturday) (Canyon Creek Trailhead to the Devil's Park Camp site. Steep slops) --- about 8 miles with 4700 ft elev gain.
Day 2 (Sunday) (Devils Park to the Devils Dome. Summitted two peaks) --- about 14 miles with 4200 ft elev gain.
Day 3 (Monday) (Devils Dome to Rainbow Point at Ross Lake) --- about 9 miles with 100 ft elev gain.  5000 ft elev loss.
Day 4 (Tue) (Rainbow Point to Canyon Creek Trailhead) --- about 13 miles with 1000 ft elev gain.

My biggest apprehension for 4 days of backpacking was hunger and my physical fitness as I have been always hungry during an overnighter and have not backpacked more than 2 days.  Well, I packed more than enough food and did not finish all the food I packed !!!   For physical fitness, albeit I struggled on the 2nd day, I was very pleased that my body recovered quickly, and felt really good and strong when I came home.   

In overall, it was a very memorable and fun backpacking trip seeing some interiors of the North Cascades: 360 degrees of the mountain views horizon to horizon.  Thanks a lot to Jay and Kevin for hosting this trip as part of a PWC event.  I got home early at 1530 and had more than enough time to put away the backpacking gears and to spend some time with my family. 

   Just started our Day 2 of hiking high country (over 6000 ft elev).                               Wild flowers were just blooming.                                                                     Sunset at Devils Dome (6900 ft elev)

                                                                                                                     From a 7200 ft peak (the highest on the Jackita Ridge),  a view of the Crater Mt and Jack Mt.

Here was backpacking highlights by each date:

Day 1 (Saturday: 1000-1600) (Canyon Creek Trailhead to the Devils Park Camp site.  Steep switchbacks) --- about 8 miles with 4700 ft elev gain.

Slept about 6 hours at home.  Started strength at 10 (scale 1-10 best) and ended with 8.  Started spirit at 10 (scale 1-10 best) and ended with 10.

Jay and I took the Kingston Ferry at 0625am, drove to the Canyon Creek Trailhead, and started hiking 1000am.  Kevin drove there Friday afternoon by himself and started hiking early on Saturday. We rendezvoused at our first camp site at 1830.  On the way up, Kevin summited two peaks including the Crater Mountain.  In general, the trail was in good shape.  The first 4 miles were very steep (like the Upper Maynard Burn trails in Olympics) with about 3400 ft elev gain.  

The highlight was, of course, arriving at our first camp site, Devils Park.  It was a high country open meadows that were filled with wild flowers.  We put down our heavy packs and laid down on the meadow next to the Shelter waiting for Kevin while watching a deer grazing the rich meadows.  It was a very nice place to camp with an open meadow with little breeze (not much bugs).  It was quite windy through the night.

0 miles (1900 elev). Canyon Creek Trailhead.  
0.2 miles (1900 ft elev). Jackita Ridge Trail. Started 4 miles trail with 3400 ft elev gain.
0.3 miles (1900 ft elev). Ruby Creek Trail.
4.0 miles (5300 ft elev). Junction to Crater Lake and Crater Mt.
5.8 miles.  McMillan Park.  Had some nice camp grounds but really buggy due to lots of standing water.
8.0 miles (5900 ft elev). Camping at Devils Park.  Little breezy and moderate bugs (was not annoying).  

                  Ready to start for our 4 days of exciting backpacking journey!                                                                              Devils Park (5900 ft elev)

Click Here for the rest of Day 1 pictures:

Day 2 (Sunday 0840-1830. Devil's Park to the Devil's Dome (6900 ft elev)) --- about 13 miles with 4200 ft elev gain.

Slept about 4 hours (it was windy).  Started strength 9 and ended with 3.  Started spirit at 10 (scale 1-10 best) and ended at 10.

We started out slow at 0840 for the long day.  We were not sure where we would camp either at Skyline Camp (10 miles day) or Devil Dome (13 miles day).  It was a good decision to stay at the Devils Dome which was way up at 6900 ft elev and had the spectacular views of the Jack Mountain and other splendid views of the Cascades mountains along with the sizzling sunset/sunrise views.  

The highlights of the days were numerous by time:  

a. The wild flowers were on display in a huge open meadows and on the mountain slops.  
b. Summited two peaks (7200 ft elev) with full pack via off trails following Kevin while Jay took the regular trail.
c. Steep 1000 ft drop (heavy pounding on all joints) and up 1500 ft in relatively steep hill (quads pain).
d. Spectacular North Cascades sunset views at the Camp site.
e. Observed Amazing stars shows at mid-night.
f. Jay & Kevin opted to sleep under the star.  I opted to sleep in my own tent since it was windy.  

14 miles (6200 ft elev). Anacortes Crossing trail.
16 miles (6100 ft elev). Devils Pass.
22 miles (6900 ft elev). Camping at Devils Dome.

It was a long 10 hours day, mostly exposed to the hot sun in a high country.  Thanks to Jay waiting 1.5 hours for us (Kevin & I) who summited two prominent peaks along the Jackita Ridge.  It was an excellent experience for me following Kevin with a full pack climbing and scrambling up two peaks.  I found out later that my backpack was way too heavy doing such scrambling (30 Lbs full pack for Kevin, 45 Lbs for me).  After the 2nd peak down the ridge, we met up with Jay and continued on our backpacking for the day.  After dropping 1000 ft elev sharply and started ascending quickly 1500-2000 ft elev, my body was getting exhausted by having pains on both quads (Mt Hood experience hiking to the base camp was worse!).  I had to slow down but moved steadily.  I was showing typical of dehydration symptom: little dizziness and slight headache although I drank over 5L of water.  When we got to the Camp site, Devils Dome (6900 ft elev), I felt fatigue but hungry which was a good sign.

After a good hot meal, we watched the gorgeous sunset and woke up around 1230 am to see the stars and the milky way. Then, dozed off a bit and woke up early to see the sunrise. Slept a few hours for the night but totally worth it.  

                                       Ready to hike on the 2nd day (high country hiking)                                                               Wild Flowers were blooming.

                                                                                                                 A view of the Crater Mt and Jack Mt from our camp site, Devils Dome (elev 6900 ft).

Click Here for the rest of Day 2 pictures:

Day 3 (Monday, 0720-1240. Devils Dome to Rainbow Point at Ross Lake) --- about 9 miles with 5000 ft elev loss & 100 ft elev gain.

Slept about 4 hours.  Started strength 7 and ended with 3.  Started spirit at 10 (scale 1-10 best) and ended at 10.

Jay and I started descending more than 9 miles hiking with 5000 ft elev loss while Kevin was submitting two more peaks and joined us at the camp site.  Kevin had amazing stamina peaking a couple of peaks each day. The trail had lots of blow down trees and had full of over grown bushes.  We were busy taking some pictures at a junction and missed the turn to the East Bank trail.  We went down to the Boater's Camp and realized that we missed the turn and needed to be on the upper trail.  It was a boat dock where people could take a water taxi back to the Resort near the Canyon Creek trailhead.  Since we got there at 1130, if Kevin was there,  we might have taken the taxi at 1330 and came home on Monday !!! Only one couple with 2 dogs were taking the taxi and offered us a free ride (up to 6 people at $85).

The highlight of the day was not much, maybe, taking a nap and dipping in the Lake at the camp site, Rainbow Point.  The trail along the Ross Lake was neat and well maintained.  One can imagine that lots of work were done to make such trails.  When Kevin arrived at the camp site at 1630,  we dipped in the Lake.  It was cold but felt good and refreshing.  We made a camp fire but was not particularly pleasing since the weather was warm.  We turned in early at 2030.  The night was warm and nice (hardly any bugs and little breeze).

28 miles (1800 ft elev). East Bank Trail.
31 miles (CAMP) Camping at Rainbow Point, Ross Lake.

                   Getting ready for the sunrise pictures at our camp site (6900 ft elev)                                                                          Last day for viewing the Jack Mt.

                                                                                                                                             Ross Lake at the Rainbow Point Campsite

Click Here for the rest of Day 3 pictures:

Day 4 (Tue, 0630-1040. Rainbow Point to Canyon Creek Trailhead) --- about 13 miles with 1000 ft elev gain.

Slept about 5 hours (1/2 hour nap on Day 3 was great).  Started strength 7 and ended with 5.  Started spirit at 10 and ended at 12.

I was eager to hike out 13 miles and come home as soon as I could as the remaining trails were in low land.  All of us agreed to start early around 0600 and finish in 5 hours !  We hiked out just over 3 miles/hr pace. The last day was not much eventful as the first day's hike in.  I thought that the trail was along the Ross Lake but was a lowland trail in the wood.   Some portions (Ruby Creek Trail) were similar to the Dosewaillips or Duckabush trails in Olympics along the creek or river.  One thing was unique thing I noticed was that some portion of the Ruby Creek Trail had full of maple trees which will have the nice fall colors in late fall.

38 miles (1900 ft elev). Jack Mt trail.
41 miles (1800 ft elev). Ruby Creek trail.
44 miles (1900 ft elev). Canyon Creek Trailhead.

                      Ready to hike out 13 miles in 4 hours.                                                              Abundant Maple trees in low land hiking (colors in late fall would be nice.).

 Click Here for the rest of Day 4 pictures:

Some pictures from Jay's Website: 











Sunset pictuers from Kevin Koski: 





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