Crystal Lake - 4485' Miles: 6 Gain: 700' GT Sloan Peak #111
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 May 22, 2010
Carrie somehow wangled an invitation from Dave, Eric and Neil to join them on an exploration of a rumored new trail out near Circle Peak.  Much of the area has been difficult to reach since 2003 when the bridge across the Suiattle washed away.   Now rebuilt this seemed a good opportunity to make for me, a first visit.

We met in Arlington to carpool at 8:00am and I think we were hiking by about 9:30a.  I won't try to go through the various twists and turns, road by road we went through getting to where we parked on road 2703, but the directions below should be pretty close. 

The roads are all in good shape, even 2703 which shows signs of recent brushing activity.  One creek crossing and a spot or two where the roadway has become eroded/rutted will require a narrow squeeze or high clearance, but otherwise no problems.  We parked at about 3800' (just beyond the second switchback), where two to three feet of snow still covered the road. 

We walked up the road for a mile or so and just before getting to a logged open area that Neil calls the landing, we found faint tread leading up slope toward the ridge to the south.  Climbing up the rough path for a couple hundred feet we intersected the new trail.  To our left, the trail would lead to the clear

cut (the landing) and on to Circle Peak and to the right we hoped, to the saddle we had seen from the road below and Crystal Lake. 

Turning right we followed the trail as it switchbacks easily up to the 4200' saddle, climbs along the ridge top to 4500'+ before crossing to the south side and beginning a long, flat traverse to the outlet of Crystal Lake.  One downed tree and a recent washout/landslide were the only problems found along the otherwise well built trail.

We arrived at the lake a little after 1:00p, had some lunch and watched the snow come down. It was actually snowing hard enough that it was difficult to see the far shore of Crystal Lake at times. So much for the early spring it looked like we were going to have during all those dry warm days back in March.

For the hike out we followed the trail back through the saddle and a little further out to the landing area.  Much rotten snow over the slash in the clear cut had us carefully plunging back to the road.  A fun trip with people who really know the area.  Looking forward to doing some more exploring.
Directions: drive us hwy 530 from Arlington east to darrington.  Go left and follow 530 to just beyond the bridge at sauk River.  Bear right at the left turning of the highway.  Follow for some distance, becomes Road 26 continue to Road 25 and go right across the Suiattle on the new bridge.  Continue to road 27 and then to road 2703 to it's end.  The trail can be found up slope in a clear cut.

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