After doing this hike less than two weeks ago, it’s uncommon beauty beckoned me to return with a friend. This hike isn’t for everyone. The trail to Melakwa Lake is where most people turn back, but if you are comfortable scrambling off trail in steep, varied terrain (rock, snow, bush), and love walking through high airy places watching the mist burn off from above early on a summer morning, then this may be for you. Check the WTA.org website, and of course, know your own limitations and skill level. Have the ten essentials?
We hit the trail at 5:20 a.m. from Denny Creek trailhead. An early start guarantees a measure of solitude, cool morning air, and sometimes, an atmospheric light shows as the mist gradually lifts giving way to blue skies and sunshine.
Avalanche deposits deep in the Denny Creek gorge.
We reached Melakwa Lake after about 2.5 hours and started up the boot trail towards the false summit along a magical ridgeline forest where I half expected to see elves and hobbits around every corner.
This trail, more than any other in recent memory, is alive with energy, constantly offering changing scenery as the entire mountain region reveals it’s intimate character step by step.
Near the top of the false summit. Morning light (around 9:30 a.m.) peaking down on heather for the first time this day. Kaleetan looms in the background.
After pass the false summit, one descends down a steep slope, traverses across a talus field, and then ascends back to the ridge before the final ascent to the summit. Though the snow is melting fast, and one no longer needs an ice axe to get past this section, it’s still tricky and requires careful and deliberate foot placement on slippery ground that has just released its winter load of snow.
Ascending the gully to the summit of Kaleetan Peak. False summit and Melakwa Lake in the distance. This is a Class III rock scramble similar in technical difficulty to the Haystack at the top of Mount Si.
Delicate beauty in the middle of a vertical rock landscape. Indian paintbrush.
View to the north from Kaleetan Peak summit. Gem Lake aptly named, middle right.
Melakwa Pass, Chair Peak Lake (still covered in snow), Gem Lake, Snow Lake.
Descending the gully from the summit.
Scrambling back up through the brush to reach the false summit.
May there always be beauty.
Melakwa Lake unveiled.