Malcolm Mountain Loop

Trail Nos. 1381, 1381.1 and 1225

JULY 20, 2008   My hike to Ingalls Lake yesterday was a hard act to follow, but this CHS hike also had many things going for it:  sunshine, blue skies, good company, and a long walk on a high ridge, not to mention being located in the area I love best--the Teanaway. 

It was about 10 hotter than it was yesterday, and the sky was a hazy blue as we set off to hike the Malcolm Mountain loop trail as described in Best Loop Hikes in Washington.  The payoff of the hike would be the views from Medra Pass at 5400'.  Although the lower reaches of the trail follow pretty Johnson Creek, there was no water once we started hiking up.  And up this trail does go!   As it leaves the flats of Johnson Creek, the trail switchbacks steadily up.  At the junction of Jungle Creek trail and Way Creek Trail, we took the Way Creek Trail #1225.  This is a primitive trail, and in part it is best described as a stingy, mean little trail.  The views it gives the hiker, though, are wide and generous, and once on the ridge, Mount Stuart and several of its neighbors (Colchuck Peak, Dragontail Peak, Little Annapurna) begin to make an appearance.

We stopped for lunch in a shady spot with views on either side, then began the final climb along the ridge to Medra Pass.  The trail, which had been a mean trail to start with, quickly became downright wicked and crumbly in a particularly exposed area, and a member of our group became too intimidated by the drop offs to continue on.  After scouting ahead for a distance, our leaders decided that we would turn back and hike out as a group the same way we came in.  We were right about the half-way point already, so we logged in just about as many miles as we would have by continuing on the loop, not the last 700' of elevation gain. 

This being a hike in the high Teanaway country, the turn-back mattered very little.  The hike out had just as many views and wildflowers as the hike in, and it was hot and dusty enough that we really didn't mind not climbing in the heat of the day. 

10 miles round trip

2200' gain