Ingalls Pass

Trail No. 1390

 

July 8, 2007  - Sometimes the adventure begins before you reach the trailhead.  Teanaway Road goes through farm land, and signs caution you to watch out for cattle.  I came upon a herd of cattle just standing in the middle of the road.  As I drove forward slowly, most of them moved off to the side until I reached the last 15 or 20 cows, who stood their ground and stared me down, daring me to come forward.  After several minutes of this showdown, a car coming from the other direction was able to herd the cattle off to the sides of the road, but one large bull suddenly approached my car, inspected it carefully, walked over to my side window and peered in at me.  It was an interesting beginning to the day. 

 It was a beautiful day for a hike to Ingalls Pass.  It was a cool, sunny 63° when I left the trailhead, and the breeze was a welcome companion on this dry, dusty trail.  The trail starts from the Esmerelda Basin trail, gaining expansive views as it switchbacks steadily up.  Wildflowers were thick today, mostly phlox, lupine, and skyrocket, but I also found patches of avalanche lilies by a lingering snowfield and shooting star along a small stream just below the pass.   Paintbrush is just starting to bloom.  As I neared the pass, I was filled with anticipation of the first view of spectacular Mount Stuart when I heard a noise and looked up to see a mountain goat—my first—on the slope above me!  I snapped a photo, then he climbed back up and out of sight.   The pass was just a few steps away, and as I scrambled over rocks to get the best view of Mount Stuart, a goat’s head popped up—he was lounging on a cliff with a show-stopping view of the mountain.  Several more photos, and I sat down to eat lunch and soak in the sun and views.  I heard bleating in the distance and saw another goat standing on a rock, looking at me, then turning to call out into the distance.  There were answering calls, and soon I saw 2 kids answering and making their way back to mama. 

 All around me were the cliffs and peaks of the Stuart Mountain Range and the Esmerelda Peaks.  Mount Rainier and Mount Adams were visible in the distance, the sun was shining, and the sky was bright blue.   I had hiked through fields of wildflowers and finally sighted the elusive mountain goat.  Satisfied with my lot in life, I headed back down the trail.  As I stopped to chat with 2 upward-bound hikers, my goat friend reappeared on the slope above us, and he grazed his way down the hill without any fear, coming within just a few feet of where we stood on the trail. 

2300' Elevation gain

7.8 miles roundtrip