To the summit we go16 miles 4000 ft
11 hours to complete
Equipment brought- Ice Axe, Helmet and Crampons(didn’t need)
After a long and rough drive to the trailhead, we got started around 8:30am. The road to the trailhead is 17 miles, unpaved and full of potholes. We made it in a small sub-compact no problem, but im sure it wasn’t great for the suspension.
The first 5 miles of the trail to saddle lake and goat flats is pretty wet and muddy. The very beginning of the trail is pretty overgrown, but you leave this behind pretty fast. Waterproof boots are pretty much essential to keep the hike from becoming miserable because of wet feet. Most of our group wore gaiters the entire hike and while not absolutely necessary, they were great to have. Sadly the berries are slightly past their prime. There are still tons on the trail, but a few are slightly bitter so choose well.
Once you get to goat flats (no goats here), you leave the mud behind and head above the tree line. Keep an eye out on the rocks of the south side of the mountain for Marmots. We saw about a dozen mountain goats just below tin can gap.
Once you reach tin can gap you finally get to have a little fun. Turn right at tin can gap and head up along the ridge and around the peaks. We had to cross only a few snow fields on the way to the summit and ice axes and helmets are pretty handy just in case of a fall. We had brought crampons, but they were unnecessary and never left our packs.
The trail is very well maintained all the way to the lookout. When you reach the south side of the first finger and look up to see a big snowfield between you and the summit, that’s your route up. There is another small finger directly to the west of the summit, but this isnt really a finger so don’t be fooled. The ladders are your final challenge and they will get your heart pumping. They are completely safe and well maintained, but still takes a little nerve.
Once we reached the lookout, we were above the clouds with perfect views of Rainer, Baker and especially Glacier in all its glory. The hike down took a while because of the muddy and torn up trail, so assume a slightly slower pace when you think about the time you need to get down.
The entire 16 miles took us about 11 hours with a long break at the lookout.