7.4 mi rt
gpx track, use at your own risk: Vesper Lake
Vesper Peak has been on the list for years now and I will go back and get it but I did not today. The trail is an old one and the tread is so well walked that it is mostly roots in many places in the woods early on. WTA has an excellent write up giving a good description as well as a bit of a history of the area.
To get to the trail involved driving down to Granite Falls then out on the Mountain Loop Highway to a short distance past the parking area for Dickerman. The road goes off to the right and is a gravel road that is in pretty good shape, definitely car drive-able. Parking is found at the end of the road and requires a NW Forest Pass (N48 01.500 W121 28.671). There is a pit toilet there but it is stiiiinnnnnkkkkyyyy, I prefer the woods.
The start of the trail is through old forests. Since this is such an old trail and I get the feeling not often visited for maintenance, as you might expect the bridges over the creeks are broken or non-existent but there is nothing big enough to worry about. Until you get to the major creek. It was really low right now so I didn’t even get my feet wet but I imagine it can be pretty intense in higher waters. One site recommended bringing water shoes for the crossing.
After the creek crossing the trail goes through a brushy hot hillside, did I mention it was hot today? After a bit the trail goes up and over a shoulder and you can see what you have in front of you.
I couldn’t tell where the pass was until I was just about on it, it is up there top right in the image. This was not a happy trail for me to walk on. It consists of rocks of all sizes and shapes, such a busy trail you have to watch your feet every step. Here is it on the way back down:
This was truly hard and tiring for me with the weak ankle and all. I was being SOOOO careful not to re-injure. Just about at the top the way to the pass reveals itself. Here it is looking up at it:
Here it is from the top looking down:
I had to take many stops, it was so hot. I think I was boarding on mild heat exhaustion at one point so I rested up and ate a bit and drank about a liter of water, that helped. There were lots of butterflies to see on the way up.
Have you ever noticed how beady their little eyes are?
Someone told me this last approach up to Headlee Pass is a hanging valley, not sure what that means…oh wait, the internet is a wonderful thing!
” A tributary valley that joins a main valley where the latter has been deepened, usually by glacial erosion, resulting in a steep drop from the floor of the tributary valley to the floor of the main valley.”
This was one of those.
Headlee Pass is at 4800 feet, not so bad. From there the trail drops down just a wee bit, barely enough to mention and then heads straight out through a scree field towards Vesper.
At this point I had come to terms with the fact that I would not be summiting, this is a rare event that I do not reach my destination but I know my limitations and knew it would take me equally long to get down as it took me to get up with the terrain being so rough. So I just headed to the lake and enjoyed my summit IPA there.
It was a beautiful day even given there was not a summit.