Eightmile Mountain - 7996'
Miles: 17.5 * Gain: 6700' * Map: GT Chiwaukum # 177
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I think it was summed up best by the last line of a TR I found while researching this trip:  "The best part of having done Eightmile Mountain is scratching it off the list".  Amen to that, bro!   I got interested in trying Eightmile for no good reason other than it occupied a prominent spot between where I stood on Cashmere last year and the impressive north face of Mt. Stuart. Over the winter I looked around for information about the peak and didn't really find much.  A plus?

What little I did find gave the views high marks but hinted that getting there was at best difficult and maybe even outright unpleasant.  Brush, ticks, a thick carpet of downed trees, steep loose gully's and postholing in rotten early summer snow were just a few of the highlights.   As it turned out, Eightmile was all of those things to some extent, but because it was difficult, it was also quite satisfying.

We had set this trip up originally to be a car camp and the scramble as a day trip from an Icicle campground. Plans changed just before the trip.  We car camped Friday night at Eightmile CG on Icicle Creek but decided to get permits for Saturday/Sunday and stay up at Eightmile Lake.  A good choice as contrary to what I read, the lake is actually very pretty.  It took about 1.5 hours to hike the 3.3 miles from the TH to the lake.  After setting up camp and hanging food, we left for Eightmile around 11:30a.

In a nutshell the TR's I found advised hiking around the north side of the lake and about a 1/2 mile beyond the west end of the lake cross an avalanche fan at the level of the inlet creek.  At the west end of the fan, head north over talus, boulders and slabs to a small basin at the foot of the south face (c. 6400').   From there, continue north to the saddle between the summit and Pt. 7793, go right (east) to the summit.

We did hike around the north side of the lake and followed a path for .2 mile or so along the inlet creek until it disappeared in the increasingly dense tangle of downed trees and branches.  Instead of following the drainage further west and crossing the avalanche fan at creek level, we started a roughly 1000' rising traverse through the forested slopes above.   Fairly slow and tedious dealing with all the downed timber there.  At roughly 5800' we hit the eastern fringe of the slide Alder jungle that occupied the avalanche chute. 

Climbing along the margins for another 100' to 200' we finally got to the upper part of the chute, crossed where the Alder was thinnest near the base of some cliffs and were finally out in the open vegi-less slopes below the basin.  Picking our way up slabs and minor sandy gully's we followed a reasonably direct route to the summit.  We didn't veer into the basin at 6400' or climb to the saddle between the high points. 

Rock scrambling near the summit is likely class 2 (but I'm not a very good judge of climb ratings).  The more direct line we ended up taking avoided what one TR indicated might be some nasty bushwhacking along the west ridge from the saddle to the summit.

We arrived at the wide open summit around 4:00p, just in time for the advance guard of Sunday's forecast weather system to take away our views to the north and west.  Cashmere was absent but we did get a nice view of the Stuart Range and some of the Enchantment Peaks even though the top of Mt. Stuart was MIA.

After a half hour of rest and something to eat we started back down.  Minor route finding issues between the summit and the snow fields below took a little while to resolve, but group memory was in fine form today and we managed to faithfully retrace our steps to the top of the avalanche chute.  Here we debated what to do next.  The prospect of having to step down slope over all those horizontal trees and branches made us way to eager to see if there wasn't some other, less painful way to get down.  That we knew there wasn't doesn't always seem to matter. 

The initial part of the descent straight down the avy chute followed the high banks of some drainage channels and went very well.  Much faster than what we'd have been able to do on the forest.   The lower we went however, the more determined the vegetation became.  At some point even our sturdy scaffold of denial collapsed and like the lemmings who too late realize that there's a cliff ahead and no way to turn around in the crush of their companions, we became resigned to our fate, hoping it would be over soon.   Sigh... we really did know better.

Bottom line is that it's better to leave the avy chute for critters built much closer to the ground. Cross it high, just below the cliffs or low at the creek level and then head up the talus on the far western edge of the chute.  Fortunately the rest of the trip back to camp went OK.

We slept until 8:00 the next morning.  Very pleasant.  Apparently I needed it.  We packed up and headed back down to the junction with trail #1554 that leads up to Caroline Lakes.  The plan was to hike to the first and larger of the two lakes and have lunch. 

However, 2.75 miles and 2000' of gain on legs that did 9 miles and 4700' the day before made me wonder at the wisdom of dropping a few hundred feet down to the lake and then having to gain it back after lunch.  Kelley of course was all for continuing on to Windy Pass.  Sheeesh! what I wouldn't give to be able to comfortably keep up with her and Tony.  We had cold wind with sporatic ice crystal showers and warm sunbreaks where we stopped on the ridge above the lake to eat.  Beautiful no matter what the weather decided to do.

We returned to the junction, gathered up our gear and hiked out. Nice to have a fast trail under foot as it only took an hour to get back to the trailhead. It was a little early for dinner so we made a quick stop at Starbucks before driving home.  Traffic was surprisingly light for a Sunday evening on Hwy 2. Great trip and as usual the best part is the people you go with, not scratching one off some list.

*includes 5.5 and 2000' on the side trip to Caroline Lake.   Eightmile is c. 12 miles and 4700' from the trailhead.
 Drive Hwy 2 to Leavenworth.  At the west end of town go south on Icicle Creek Road to Rd 7601, go left for 3 miles to the Eightmile Lake/Trout Lake Trailhead.
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