Tricia and I had suffered a hiking hiatus this summer. Part of it was because we were recovering from Huayhuash– it certainly took a toll on us both mentally and physically. Additionally, wildfires raged for a good part of the summer, which made hiking smoky and unpleasant.
But the fall is here! The smoke has scattered. We can’t let ourselves sit indoors knowing that the sun is gentle, the mountains are changing colors, and the air is cool and crisp on the face. No, no, no! We will be in the mountains, getting lost in the woods. That’s where we belong.
I have been keeping a close eye on the weather forecast. As soon as I saw Saturday forecast changing from rain to partial sun, I started to look for a new hike. That’s when I found Navaho Pass and Navaho Peak. It’s a longer hike– 13 miles– than what we usually do, but it has elevation gain of only 4000 feet. We got this.
We left our place in Seattle at 9 am and got to the trailhead around 11 am.
The start of the trail was gentle with some rolling hills. The trail was well maintained, wide and dusty. Tricia led the way and she was in a hurry! We hustled along for a while until we arrived to a T in the path. I knew from reading the trip reports that we needed to turn right to get to Navaho Pass. I also knew that we’ve gone 3.5 miles. I looked down at my watch– we had only been on the trail for a little over an hour. No wonder I was sweating– we were moving way faster than usual.
I requested a water break, stood around for a few minutes for a breather and soaked in the fall colors around us. From that point on, the trail started to ascend more steeply, but still not bad, and zigzag towards the pass.
Shortly after a meadow where some lucky people had camps set up next to a stream, we found ourselves hiking up on open terrain. We reached the Pass a little over 2 hours after leaving the trailhead. From Navaho Pass, we had a view of Stuart Mountain and the backside of the Enchantments.
We knew that Navaho Peak was only a mile away on our right hand side. We kept climbing. Navaho Peak was far steeper than the earlier hike, and it was dusty and covered in scree. But the view kept on getting better as we climbed up. Finally, we made it to the top. There was no one else around!
We had the 360 view on top of Navaho Peak all to ourselves. I could see a huge patch of larches that were just starting to change color down the valley. The clouds were thick, dark and low, a clear visual of the rain forecasted for the next day.
On our descent, we encountered two mountain bikers who were out for an adventure. We also found ourselves passing numerous ultra-marathoners who were doing a 100 mile run sharing this hiking trail. Many of them would still be running, sleep deprived and calorie deficient, well into the following day.
Satisfied with our 13 miles, we got back to our car before 5pm and drove straight to the International District for some good chow to compensate the calorie expenditure. Hooray, first fall hike 2018, check!
Distance: 13 miles
Time: ~ 3 hours each way
How to get there: Google map Stafford Creek Trailhead
Pass: Northwest Forest Pass or purchase a day pass at the trailhead for $5