The Ever Elusive Upper Hanging Lake
This was a trip organized by Tim Epps, also known as Billy Goat for good reasons. Tim can scamper up a trail pretty darn quick! The marked trail initially goes to Radium Lake for the first 3000 feet of elevation gain on a moderately graded trail through some very scenic woods and finishes at the lake. From there, it's a taped route up a pretty steep section of forest and then up a loose scree slope to end in the col between Mt. Webb and Mt. MacDonald and about another 1000 feet of elevation gain. Two other folks were along for this trip, Trailrunner (John), who just came for the trip up to Mt. Webb to retrieve a relay camera and Janna, who was along for the full 3 days.

Our original purpose was to get to a very elusive destination called Upper Hanging Lake. This lake is in a bowl nestled between Mt Lindeman and Middle Peak. You have to traverse around Mt. MacDonald on either the NW or SE side and descend a ridge to Mt. Lindemann and skirt around the base of the peak and up over another col to finally descend to the lake. It's supposed to be a very beautiful spot and as you view the photos, you'll see why. All the photos posted for this trip were taken by Tim on his digital camera so I can't take the photo credits this time.

John on the bridge on the trail up to Radium Lake On the way up we took a few shots of some of the trail highlights. There is one bridge before you get to Radium Lake that seemed like a good photogenic shot. It's quite the construction. A good shot of TrailBlaizer (John) on the bridge.

Tim and John on the bridge Another shot of our fearless leader, BillyGoat (Tim) and John on the bridge. Janna and I were close behind. I actually took this shot with Tim's camera so I guess I get to claim credit for it!

Janna and I at Radium Lake Janna and I at the lake taking our first real meal break of the day. 3000 feet down, 1700 more to go! I definitely needed this rest. Refreshed and strengthened, we headed up the marked route from the lake to the col between Webb and MacDonald. From the lake up, it's no longer a trail but is just a flagged route. We're out of the realm of casual dayhiking and into serious backcountry from here on.

Janna and I on our way up to the col between Mt. Webb and Mt. MacDonald Here's a shot of Janna and I just after emerging from the forest before we hit the steep scree slopes that lead up to the col between Webb and MacDonald. Pretty nice country, eh?

Janna in the col between Mt. Webb and Mt. MacDonald Janna in the col and off to the right is Mt. Webb. After a brief rest, we took off our backpacks, put on our summit packs and headed up to it's summit. Making the total elevation gain for the first day about 4700 feet. 4000' feet of it I was carrying my 40 pound pack so I was pretty tired nonetheless, a rest and the summit was not too much of a problem. The views were spectacular and I've got to get some from Tim to put up here.

Me on Mt. Webb Here I am on Mt. Webb. I scrambled up a slightly different route than Tim and Janna and somehow got there before they did by a couple of minutes. Geez, what do I have to do to get those youngsters to keep up!? Of course, John was up there a good 30 minutes before the rest of us. Monster thighs on that man, let me tell you. Actually John's mission was to bag a camera that other ClubTread hikers had hidden up there. He was going to put it on another peak in a couple of days. It's called a relay camera and you take a picture of yourself and where you left it and then leave directions for the next group, whoever they may be, to get it and place it somewhere else. Heaps of fun and the camera made it to some spectacular places.

3 of us on Mt. Webb Here's 3 of us on top of Webb. Tim took this photo.

Chilliwack Lake from the top of Webb A nice shot of Chilliwack Lake from the top of Webb
After coming back down, we rested briefly again and took off toward MacDonald to find a more sheltered spot to camp. At this point I almost protested but Tim and Janna did a scout and found a great spot just a few hundred metres from the col and only a few more metres elevation gain. It was well worth the extra effort as we all had great spots for our tents and a little area to use as a cooking and socializing area. No problem falling asleep that night. This was when Mars was getting really close to Earth so after dinner, I made a pot of hot chocolate and Tim and I waited up to see the red planet. It was a clear night and we got great views of it a little after 11:00. Then into the sack to head out to scout out the Hanging Lake route the next day.

Sunset on Mt. Webb Sunset on Webb. You can see the obvious route up. What you can't see is all the little rocks that act like ball bearings on the bigger rocks that make it a pretty slippery ascent. But definitely worth the scramble. I didn't get my ClubTread nickname, Scrambler, for nothing. Actually, it was after this trip that I took the Scrambler nickname. Couldn't believe that noone else had taken it yet.

Camp at dusk Our camp at dusk. You can see Janna's homemade tent and my tent just a little past and below it on the right. You get a little sense of the view we had from camp.

Hangin out at base camp The next morning was foggy and a bit drizzly with clouds coming through and very poor visibility. We decided to just hang out and see how the conditions would develop. We put on some warmer clothes, made tea, coffee etc and just hung out and chatted our way through the morning.

mountain Tai-ji I did some high elevation Tai-ji to pass the time

me and Janna playing games We even devised a way to play TIC-TAC-TOE with sticks and rocks. Amazing what you can do when you're bored!
Round about noon give or take some time, a couple of men passed through and didn't even see us. Tim hailed them and chatted them up as to where they were headed. They were going up MacDonald. Frankly, I thought they must be crazy. Why would anyone want to get to the top of a mountain in the rain and clouds and not see anything!? Great workout but you can do that on a stairmaster in the gym and it's a lot more comfortable. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. In any case, some time after noon in the early part of the day it looked like the weather was going to break a bit and we thought we'd give MacDonald a gander ourselves and at least wander over to see what it looked like. By the time we got over the col and onto the Northwest spine, the weather had totally cleared and it was summit time! Tim and I went up and Janna decided to stay down on the ridge and enjoy the weather and the views and forgo the summit scramble. Tim and I scrambled up and signed the summit register. It was my first summit register sign-in ever so I was pretty pleased with myself. Since we were all ClubTreaders, we signed us in as a CT group and included Janna since she made it most of the way up. From up here we could really see where we had to go if we wanted to approach the lake from the North coming in from MacDonald. I know Tim sent me some pics from this part of the trip so as soon as I find them, I'll get them into this saga.

Lindeman from the eastern ridge of MacDonald Lindeman is the peak on the left with the 45 degree slope leading up to it's summit and then there's the the col leading SW to Middle peak. Hanging lake is below that col and South and is almost smack-dab in the middle between the 2 peaks. So the plan looked like we should go down along the ridge coming in from the right about halfway down the picture, cross the talus slope heading SW and up the west side of the 45 degree spine and onto and over the col. Looked pretty reasonable and what you can't see is the link to the ridge coming in from the right is pretty straightforward from the west side of MacDonald. Anyways, having scoped out what looked like our route, we decided to head back to camp and call it a day. If the weather held, tomorrow was going to be a long workout so I wanted to rest up a bit.

Unbeknownst to me, once we got back to camp, Tim and Janna were feeling full of energy - Ah youth - and decided to ramble out through the meadows from our base camp south to what looked like a nice viewpoint. I elected to keep the camp site occupied and made myself some dinner and got comfortable while they rambled. Let's hear it for the thermarest support gizmo that makes it into the best camp chair/chaise lounge. Don't leave home without one. T & J made it back a little before dark and cooked themselves some dinner and then we settled in for a nice evening. As trip organizer, Tim had a few "treats" up his sleeve, including a self contained candle wax campfire and a few nips the good stuff. Great organizer, that Tim. Anyways, I made us some hot chocolate and we talked about this and that and our popcan stoves and such. Janna liked them so much that a few days later I ended up giving her a couple of stoves. Tim and I both had ones we had made. His was bit more primitive but seemed to work just as well. As it was another beautiful evening, we settled in for another night of stars and Mars watching before finally turning in.

The next morning we were up bright and not very early and ready to head off on our attempt to get to Upper Hanging Lake. When T & J had wandered off the previous evening, they thought they saw a more direct route to the approach ridge by going around the SE base of MacDonald so we headed off in that direction instead of the route we had seen from the NW side of MacDonald. We would still hit the same approach ridge, just from the other side of MacDonald. Looking at the topo I had some minor doubts as it looked like there was going to be some steep slopes to navigate to get around to the ridge but we decided to go for it anyway. So after breadkfast we packed our day/summit packs with lunch, water and snacks and headed off. There are no trails here so we were just wandering through the heather and rock fields. It was a beautiful day so everything looked good for attaining the lake.

After a few hours we had rounded the base and were into the steep slopes the topo had predicted and this was where it started to get tricky. At one point we realized that we had reached a point where none of us were comfortable going forward. We scouted up and down and it was all too steep to be doing without gear and ropes. The only choice was to backtrack and head further down and then climb up onto the ridge. We had hoped to merge with the ridge at grade but that was no longer an option. At this point, it was time for a snack and a parley. We decided that given the time of day it already was and the time it would take to go back and climb up to the ridge or go back and go around MacDonald the other way would not leave enough time to actually get to the lake and back before dark and none of us was ready to negotiate the terrain in the dark. I'm pretty sure I had left my headlamp back at camp so that wasn't even an option.

as far as we got Here's the view of the ridge and the access to it from our closest vantage point and was as far as we got. It looks so tantalizingly close!! So after our snack, we headed back the way we came and just decided to enjoy the meadows on the way back. Here's a shot of me walking back through the meadows. We probably could have gone down and made it up to the ridge and possible gotten to the col and back before dark but the energy spent traversing the steep slopes had left us a bit drained and sapped some of our positive spirits. And we had decided to head out that afternoon to get back home at a reasonable hour, so that wasn't really an option after all. No matter. We were determined to enjoy ourselves it being such a beautiful day and all.

stream and Rich in meadow on SE slopes of MacDonald

After about an hour or so and getting back to the easy heather slopes we came across a nice boulder field and Janna decided to have a sunbathing session on a huge flat boulder. I was getting hungry for lunch and looking up from the boulder I could see a ridge that might have a view and it looked like about another 10 minutes up to get to it so I decided to scamper up to the ridge.

eating lunch on the ridge Janna elected to continue her sunbath and Tim and I set out for the ridge. As predicted, we were up on it in just under 10 minutes and it turned into one of the best decisions we had made that day, so far. Once on the ridge we could walk all the way out to the far end of it and the views were awesome. I got to sit on a ledge with my legs hanging over a several hundred foot drop and just soak in the views while eating lunch. For me, that's like what I imagine heaven to be, if there is such a place. Here's some of the pictures Tim took from that ridge.

another shot of Lindeman only closer than before Another shot of the N and NE aspects of Lindeman

Baker! A great shot of Mt Baker's East face. It looks like there's a great ridge walk if you get on that ridge in the foreground.

Back up the ridge to MacDonald Here's the view north from the ridge looking back up MacDonald. Actually when we were there, we saw some other folks summiting MacDonald.

Close-up of Rexford and Slesse A close-up of the east face of Rexford and some of the Illusion Group with Mt. Slesse behind.

Landscape of Rexford and Slesse A broader view of Rexford and Slesse and a bunch of others. Ain't the Northern Cascades wonderful!
The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. After gettting back to base camp we packed up, motored down the mountain, refreshed ourselves in the creek by the car, changed into drier clothes and merged back into society. One of my highlight trips of the Summer of 2003. Great views, great people, great weather and some major personal accomplishments. Hope you enjoyed it vicariously as much as we did being there.

back to the hiking main page.