Ladies Loop Backpacking

Lakes of the Chiwaukum

This year, my sister, her boyfriend Shane, my dad and I decided to take a summer backpacking trip to the Chiwaukum Range. We found this nice looking 25-30 mile loop past many lakes named after women, cresting at Ladies Pass. Thus, it is often called the Ladies Loop.

The trip involves a 3 or 4 miles car shuttle, so I dropped them off at the end of Icicle road and then drove back to the Chatter Creek trailhead. I then ran the road section so our car would be there when we finished.

The first 5 miles or so were just up the Icicle Creek trail, which was nice and easy. After that, we began climbing steeply uphill towards Frosty Pass. We passed Lake Margaret and Lake Mary. Above Frosty Pass, the terrain started to open up and became the familiar alpine terrain I am used to in the Chiwaukum.

Hiking above Frosty Pass.

We crested another pass and had a view down towards the Florence Lakes. They were exceptionally beautiful, situated right at treeline with Grindstone Mountain behind.

Sara and Shane enjoying the nice spot.
A nice family shot of the three of us.
Hiking beautiful terrain to Upper Florence Lake.

It was late afternoon as we descended to Upper Florence Lake, so we decided to make camp here. It was super quiet and calm, with good campsites.

The area where we camped near the lake.

After a delicious dinner my sister prepped, we hiked back up to the earlier pass and to the high point above it to watch the sunset. We had very nice views of the central Alpine Lakes Wilderness like Mt. Daniel and Chimney Rock. You could even see up the US2 corridor into the Wild Sky Wilderness with peaks like Baring and Index.

Smiling at sunset.
Fading light over Mt. Daniel.
Sara and Shane gazing out at the sunset.
Sara sitting on Shane’s shoulders so she can get the last bit of sunlight.
Fading light from high in the Chiwaukum.

I didn’t sleep well, mainly because I gave Shane and my dad all my comfortable backpacking gear and was in a $10 sleeping bag getting chilled by winds sweeping underneath my tarp. But the next morning was nice.

We hiked the short section up to Ladies Pass. It was very barren and tundra like up here, must like I have come to expect from the Chiwaukum.

Sara and Shane at Ladies Pass.

As we crested the shoulder of Cape Horn, we decided to hike a few hundred feet to the top. It was a little steep, but not too bad.

Looking north along the Chiwaukum Crest from Cape Horn.
Panorama from Cape Horn.

Back down on the trail, we hiked past Lake Edna, which was a pretty alpine lake with many nice campspots.

Lake Edna and Cape Horn.

The basin beneath Lake Edna was very pretty and filled with larches. This would be a nice place to come back to in the fall!

Once we reached the final pass, we were ready for the long knee-crushing descent down the Chatter Creek trail. It got hotter and dustier as we got lower and my dad complained quite a bit, but he was just tired. Luckily, the car was waiting for us at the trailhead and then we drove into Leavenworth for some celebratory brats and beer!

I think the Ladies Loop is a pretty nice 2 day backpacking trip or long day run. Maybe less than half of the trip is actually in alpine terrain, but that section is very nice and you could scramble some peaks or explore off trail. The lakes are all very secluded and beautiful. Overall, it is a peaceful, not crowded trip, perfect if you are trying to get away from the hordes in the Enchantments just down the road.

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