The Summit Trail runs along the Sawtooth Ridge on the north shore of Lake Chelan for thirty miles at an average elevation of 6000 ft.  I hiked it over the weekend for at least the fifth time.  I first hiked it in 1974 when I was newly arrived in Chelan and fell in love with it.  July is the peak season for wildflowers up there.  Strangely, I met only a Forest Service trail crew along its entire length.  It was snow-free so snow wasn’t the problem.  I guess fewer people are backpacking these days.

Access has always been a problem for the Summit Trail – especially this year when the best access, the Black Canyon Road, was badly damaged in a flash flood.  Even when that road is in service, getting to the trail is a logistical headache.  I chose to ride the passenger boat Lady of the Lake II to the mouth of Prince Creek and hike up that trail to the Summit Trail.  The Prince Creek Trail is poorly maintained and the day was hot.  If the prize awaiting me had not been so alluring I think the heat and the bugs would have outweighed my enthusiasm and I would have turned around and gone home.  I was dead tired when I finished the 6000-ft climb at 8 PM.  It was all I could do to set up my tent, un-roll my sleeping bag and conk out.  I was even too tired to eat!

A long romp through meadow after meadow of wildflowers the next day made it all worthwhile.  Check out these photos:


The weather cooled considerably the second night and a howling wind at tiny Juanita Lake nearly toppled my tent.  My hands went numb from the cold when I packed my gear in the morning.  The National Park Service, which is responsible for the trail from Juanita Lake to Stehekin, is also woefully remiss.  That trail was overgrown in many places.

Even so, it will take more than overgrown trails and washed out roads to keep me from The Summit Trail.

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