Larch Madness 2012 (Oval Lake Loop Trail, 9/27-9/30)

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pdxflowergirl
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Larch Madness 2012 (Oval Lake Loop Trail, 9/27-9/30)

Post by pdxflowergirl » October 3rd, 2012, 2:11 pm

We left Portland on Thursday around 10a in search of larches. Our original plan was to head up to the North Cascades NP, but decided en route to check out the Oval Lakes area in the Okanogan NF. The only road hazard that we encountered was at Blewett Pass where we had to wait for a pilot vehicle to escort us through the forest fire area. It was neat to see the crews at work. Then we had a leisurely dinner in Wenatchee and enjoyed a beautiful sunset ala wildfire smoke. We arrived at the TH around 8p and decided to sleep in the truck instead of setting out on unfamiliar trail in the dark.

Friday morning, we signed in at the TH and noticed that nobody else had visited this area since the prior weekend. Hitting the trail around 7a, we were treated to a peaceful walk through the forest that followed Oval creek. However, the horse-trodden trail was annoyingly dusty and poop-filled. At our lunch break spot, we started seeing ridgelines speckled with golden larches - hooray! The approach to West Oval Lake included a scattering of larches amongst evergreens. Descending into the lake basin, one felt as though the entire landscape was ablaze with the glow of gold-needled larches. Truly spectacular!

We enjoyed exploring the area around West Oval Lake and were sad to say goodbye on Saturday morning. Bidding farewell to our scenic campsite, we climbed back up to the main trail where we encountered even MORE gorgeous groves of golden larges. The view from Oval Pass was spectacular with Tuckaway Lake just below and the Sawtooths providing a picturesque backdrop. From here, the trail ambles through alpine meadows and small groves of larches. At Eagle Pass, we bid farewell to the larches and made our way back to the TH where we decided to camp for the night since we were still the only visitors. I checked the TH log again and saw that only one person had signed in after us (a solo thru-hiker who must've been dropped off since there were no other vehicles in the parking lot). We did not see another human from Thursday evening through Sunday morning.

On Sunday, we got on the road @6a and caught all the beautiful morning light hitting the surrounding peaks. After a brief stop in Seattle, we were back in Portland by 3p.

http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/okawen/r ... 3&actid=51
Travel time to TH: 9 hours - we returned via NCNP, which was quite scenic
Trail type: lollipop (only 1.7 miles to loop) - we hiked CW
Use: hiker, equestrian
Mileage: 20 miles total with ~5,000 ft elevation gain - lots of up and down since we did two passes in one day (3,000 ft to over 8,000 ft)
Weather: pleasant air temps, clear skies

West Oval Lake
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Trail to Oval Pass
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Trail to Eagle Pass
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North Cascades NP Scenic Hwy
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Kam

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thegreatjesse
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Re: Larch Madness 2012 (Oval Lake Loop Trail, 9/27-9/30)

Post by thegreatjesse » October 3rd, 2012, 2:26 pm

Wow - you have visited all of the best places this year, Kam! Your photos are beautiful; thank you for sharing!
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Waffle Stomper
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Re: Larch Madness 2012 (Oval Lake Loop Trail, 9/27-9/30)

Post by Waffle Stomper » October 3rd, 2012, 9:51 pm

Wow, breathtaking.
"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." - John Muir

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potato
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Re: Larch Madness 2012 (Oval Lake Loop Trail, 9/27-9/30)

Post by potato » October 3rd, 2012, 10:00 pm

^ what they said!
self observing universe (main blog)
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pdxflowergirl
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Re: Larch Madness 2012 (Oval Lake Loop Trail, 9/27-9/30)

Post by pdxflowergirl » October 4th, 2012, 10:09 am

Thanks! It was a great way to wrap up an awesome alpine backpacking season. Now I'm ready for the snow :D
Kam

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Dustin DuBois
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Re: Larch Madness 2012 (Oval Lake Loop Trail, 9/27-9/30)

Post by Dustin DuBois » October 4th, 2012, 10:36 am

potato wrote:^ what they said!
But twice!

Fantastic shots!!
Hi!

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