Date: July 22, 2016
Location: Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area (near Roslyn, WA)
Distance: 15 miles
Elevation Gain: 2300 ft
Highest Point: 5500 ft
I have a mixed feeling about this trail. While there are moments of grandeur, the loop has too much view-less stretches which was further hindered by low cloud condition of the day. The 12 mile long dirt road to TH was not as bad as advertised, and scenery pretty (Photo above)
I followed Spring/Manning hiking guide starting the Loop counterclockwise – going to Cathedral Rock first. I’d disagree with this recommendation.
Mile 1-5 To the Rock
The trail started and climbed diligently in the trees. Squaw Lake (below) at 2.5 mile provided a respite, though swarm of mosquitoes cut my stay there short.
Cathedral Pass was attained at 4.5 miles, though the Rock was shrouded behind low hanging clouds the whole day.
Mile 5-9 PCT
Returning to Cathedral Junction, I proceeded northward on Pacific Crest Trail towards Deception Pass. The beginning 1 mile was the prettiest section of entire loop, but soon the trail descended into trees with occasional open views of the Southern rock face (Top Photo) and Northern valley. At mile 8, I reached the notorious stream crossing. On this July day, I only got my boots wet.
Given the potential fording issue, especially earlier in the season, starting the loop from Hyas Lake would be better as retracing one’s step would be much easier via Hyas Lake than climbing back to Cathedral Rock. Moreover, the views came more naturally going clockwise on this section of PCT.
After a peek towards Hyas Lake, and a quick climb, Deception Pass was reached. The Pass serving as a trail junction offered hikers nothing in views but hordes of mosquitoes.
Miles 10-14 Hyas Lake trail
The trail descended steeply in the tree then flattened as it curved along Hyas Lake shore.