Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Backpacking, Hiking, Top Trips

Jade Lake & Diptop Gap

I know I keep saying this every time we go somewhere and it is probably starting to get old, but this was the most stunningly amazing scenery I have ever seen. I frankly don’t see how anything could top it, given my love of glacial lakes and snowy peaks. Sigh.

Hyas Lake

Anyhoo, on to the trip report. Amy was out of town, so JK, Bobby and I kidnapped Tom and took him into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. We had heard the road to the Deception Pass trailhead was total shite, but we had no problems – one harmless creek ford (someone less fortunate had left their bumper in it though), and we were good to go. The five miles to Deception Pass just flew by, and we dropped down into the beautiful Hozzbizz Basin (flowers galore – but I left my camera at home to save weight and JK always insists on using the wide-angle lens, so no flower photos) before climbing on up to Marmot Lake.

JK in Marmot Lake

At Marmot Lake we ate lunch, cooled off, were swarmed by mosquitoes, and decided to head on. Marmot Lake is a lovely destination in itself, but we had our sights set on higher places. The “trail” keeps going up and down over all sorts of obstacles before climbing up a steep, rocky gully. It’s hard to convey steepness in photos, but here I am going up, and then down again the next day:

A marmot in Marmot Up the gully Down the gully

Once we cleared the boulder field (which was full of pikas and marmots), we found a trail again – and man alive, was getting up that gully worth it:

Back on trail

We quickly passed by No Name Lake (yes, that’s its name) with the intention of exploring it the next day (this was not to happen), and made our way to Jade Lake – I had seen photos of it before, but I was still completely amazed by its color:

Jade Lake

We set up our tents as quickly as possible since the mosquitoes were really getting annoying. Poor Bobby had swollen bites all over his face, so we wondered if maybe we should drop the rest of the hike and just stay in our tent with him…but the tent was so warm would all have been miserable. Solution? Stuff Bobs in a backpack, put DEET on the parts of his head he can’t lick, then keep moving.

Poor Scabnose

We walked up and over the knob by the side of the lake and started traversing a steep scree slope to get to the Jade Glacier. Every other step seemed to relase a nasty slide, so naturally I started freaking out and angled down to the snowfield as soon as possible. Ugh. I have never been happier to walk on snow. Tom, however, skipped along the scree without a care in a world, seemingly unaware that death was imminent. Men!

Scree hell

As we made our way up the snowfield, the views really started opening up:

Looking back

By the time we got to the top of the pass, I was a wee bit proud of myself – I have never gained that much elevation (over relatively challenging terrain) with an overnight pack on before. It seemed fitting to belt out the Rocky theme song as I walked the last steps to the top, so I did. :)

Singing the Rocky theme at Diptop Gap

Diptop Gap is officially my new happy place. The view of Pea Soup Lake in front of Mount Daniel (the highest mountain in our county at 7,959 feet) and the Lynch Glacier is just amazing. I had no idea Mount Daniel was so beautiful. I think we need to climb it next summer.

Christmas card '08?

Since the sun was setting, we reluctantly left Diptop Gap and glissaded down the snowfield. By now I had a really intense headache accompanied by a lovely bit of nausea (I get exertion headaches, so it was no surprise that I got one that day), so I only ate a couple bites for dinner and then tried to sleep. In vain. All in all I got around three hours of sleep, and woke up feeling like crap the next day.


Between my nausea and the mosquito situation, we decided to head out as soon as possible. I hiked the entire way out feeling like I was seconds away from vomiting (from now on I’m bringing anti-nausea pills in my first-aid kit!), while Bobby did his best to scratch his mosquito bites:

Takin' care of skeeter business

When we got to Hyas Lake, a couple of miles from the car, the boys went for a well-deserved swim (I stayed put on land, trying not to vomit).

A manly dip

Since Tom had spent the entire hike out talking about pizza and beer (this didn’t help my stomach by the way), we stopped in Roslyn on the way out. Fellow Northern Exposure geeks will recognize this:

*Northern Exposure theme song*

There you have it, an absolutely fabulous first day and a less than stellar second day – but the views made up for the sickness. :) Lots of miles. So much elevation gain. Mosquito bites in the hundreds. Would I do it again? Oh yes. In a heartbeat.

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