Sunday, September 20, 2015

A.H. Sylvester Chiwaukum loop, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

It seems impossible to travel through the Wenatchee or Entiat ranger districts without being touched by the place names given by A.H. Sylvester. The Chiwaukum Range especially bears the names of his wife (Lake Alice), relatives and friends, as well as some of the whimsical (Grindstone Creek and mountain, "named for a small grindstone which was lost from the load of a pack horse at this crossing.") and descriptive names he gave (Frosty Creek and pass, after his camp in the area received a heavy frost in early fall; Chatter Creek, for the sound of its flow). Sylvester Lake, named in memoriam, sits on Grindstone Mountain's southwest side. On a side note, Sylvester is credited with changing the name of the North Fork of the White River to the Napeequa River, a native and descriptive name I love, which also is one of my favorite places in the state.

On my first trip to the Chiwaukum last November, Ethan, Kate and I "enjoyed" a quite-cold day of solitude, but didn't get to fully experience the area.

Yesterday I did the long-form loop from Chatter Creek through the Mormon Lady Lakes, Frosty Pass and on to Doelle Lakes (pronounced "duel-ee"; named by Sylvester for William Doelle of Cashmere who lost his life fighting a forest fire in the area) and Chain Lakes, returning via Icicle Creek. Ben had done this a couple of weeks ago and reminded me I needed to go too.

All trails are in good shape and there is abundant water throughout the loop. From the Chatter Creek TH through Frosty Pass was quite busy (15 people?) but I was the only one through Doelle and Chain Lakes, the highlight of the loop. Larches on the east side are just starting to change.

Thanks to Forest Service rangers Adam and Shane, who I had a nice long chat with on the trail. Great to see them out rangering the high hunt and hear some of their thoughts on challenges the area is facing. I have a lot of time for those guys.

The loop is just under 30 miles with ~7,500'+ of gain.

Looking back down the Chatter Creek drainage from the upper basin; Cashmere Mountain peeking out
Index Creek drainage, from just below Lake Edna
Larches in the basin south of Lake Edna
Lake Edna, Icicle Ridge and Big Jim Mountain (left)
Pano from above Ladies Pass (center); Ladies Peak above and Snowgrass Mountain summit in the clouds at right
Northwest face of Grindstone Mountain, with Lake Alice
Northwest face of Grindstone
Upper Florence Lake
North face of Mt. Stuart
Lake Margaret, Frosty Pass and the ridges toward Doelle-Chain beyond
Bulls Tooth
Large meadow before Doelle Lakes

Lower Doelle Lake
Fight crowds in the Enchantments or have this all to yourself...?
Lower Doelle Lake
Upper Doelle Lake and the north end of Bulls Tooth
The upper two Chain Lakes
ID help? Maybe a baby Western Toad?
There is a lot of old growth in the upper Icicle
Fall colors through Icicle Creek



  1. Love all the fall colors and really enjoy the picture you took of Upper Doelle Lake. Bummed to miss this one. Next time I have an urge for the Enchantments I think I'll take a spin through here.

  2. Great account. I too am a fan of the place name history and AH Sylvester. Have you read "East of the Divide" by Chester Marler? One of my favorite books for all of the history (both human, geological and biological) provided in it. A must read!

    1. Yes, read it last year! Thanks for mentioning it. My book queue continues to grow, unfortunately (Tales of a Western Mountaineer, Visible Bones, etc). If you like place name history, have you seen "Place Names of Washington State" by Robert Hitchman? Great reference book to have.