Deception Pass to Highway 2, The 14 Lakes Traverse

My list of Splitboard traverses in Washington has been getting shorter year after year and there was one that held great interest for me, traversing from Deception Pass to Highway 2. A few years earlier I had done Mt. Clark to Interstate 90 doing the Alpine Lakes Traverse and this would complete the section From I-90 to Highway 2. Lowell Skoog had previously done this traverse but stayed on lower trails for some of it but being a glutton for pain I wanted to make a high route out of it. So after almost a year of studying maps and waiting for the right weather Jason Hummel and I found a suitable weather window and went for it in late March of 2016. To get to where we last started off it would require a snowmobile ride 16 miles which my friends Boot and Jason were kind enough to take us on, holding on for dear life with our overnight backpacks we blindly went over bumps and through creeks until we finally made our departure point with after over an hour riding in the dark only to get to our starting point just as the sun rose.

Photo by Jason Hummel

Huge thanks goes to Boot and Jason for making this trip possible. Our backpacks were filled with 4 days worth of gear as we started the trip trying to come up with a plan of where we should climb to get into the high country as we were almost 4,000 feet below where we wanted to be.

Photo by Kyle Miller

Our first challenge was getting around Hyas lake as it wasn't frozen enough to skin across and we made a small mistake being on the left side as we wanted to head up the right but after a few board carries we finally made our way around the lake.

Photo by Jason Hummel

From here on it was a straight up climb through open forests on what seemed to be the least mellow area according to topo maps, we wouldn't be using trails and decided it was much more direct but after 2 hours we finally made it out of the trees and into the alpine with Mt. Clark standing proud in the background.

Photo by Kyle Miller

Finally we made it up to Robin Lake which is an area I had always been interested in seeing as the shore lines are beautifully carved rock but it was winter and there was nothing to see but a 5 foot deep snowpack.

Photo by Kyle Miller

Our day started at 1 A.M. so we decided to take a much needed nap after setting up camp. Making our way towards the summit only an hour before sunset to watch the golden hour of light.

Photo by Jason Hummel

We sat on top of the peak for over an hour taking in the views of Mt. Stuart and the North Cascades basking in beautiful alpenglow.

Photo by Jason Hummel

Photo by Kyle Miller

Photo by Kyle Miller

After we had seen the sunset it was time to ride back down to Robin Lake and back to camp as the next day was guaranteed to be a long one.

Photo by Jason Hummel

DAY 2 We woke up to a beautiful day and packed our gear looking at Mt. Clark looking stunning in the distance and after packing our gear and Jason doing some landscape photos it was time to get moving.

Photo by Jason Hummel

Photo by Jason Hummel

Photo by Kyle Miller

Our first objective was to summit of Trico Mountain and to find our way down to Lake Phoebe From here we got a great view of our potential route and the endless beauty of the North Cascades.

Photo by Jason Hummel

Jason stood on the summit for a few additional minutes while I spotted a line that looked like it went.

Photo by Jason Hummel

Photo by Kyle Miller

From Lake Pheobe we traverse the flat lands until coming up to a low pass to the NW that would put us in line for a Summit of Mac Peak that night.

Photo by Kyle Miller

From the pass it was beautiful to look back at the route we had traveled as it was a crisp blue sky day.

Photo by Kyle Miller

We descended down to Lake Talus and carefully skinned up the one spot that still held trees on a race to the summit of Mac peak so we would still have time to build camp and watch the sunset from yet another beautiful vantage spot.

Photo by Jason Hummel

From the summit we had a perfect view of what was ahead of us and what was behind us so for the next hour we scouted out descent options and Jason put up his tent while I dug a 2 foot deep hole big enough to sleep in and to block the wind.

Photo by Kyle Miller

As the shadows grew larger we looked back to our camp the first night at Robin Lake and were happy with our progress.

Photo by Jason Hummel

that night we ate our dinners poured over the maps and took in another stunning sunset, happy to be camping on top of a peak that was new to both of us.

Photo by Jason Hummel

Photo by Jason Hummel

DAY 3 The next morning we packed our gear and descended down to Square lake riding the northeast facing slopes of Mac peak directly from the summit.

Photo by Jason Hummel

We were more than happy to see that Square Lake was completely frozen so we could skin directly across it as following the shoreline would have took a few additional hours.

Photo by Kyle Miller

From Square lake we went up to Wolverine Lake to the North finding easy yet deep slush conditions on the south facing slopes.

Photo by Jason Hummel

From Wolverine Lake we skinned up through some burned forest making our way to a high pass that gave us direct access to the North with hopes that we would be on the PCT within a few hours.

photo by Jason Hummel

Photo by Kyle Miller

Once at the high pass we made the decision to summit a peak that was directly to our right for no other reason than getting the views.

Photo by Kyle Miller

Once on the summit we decided it was the perfect place to have some food and prepare for what was in front of us. After another hour of alpine we would be back on the PCT traversing thought steep slush sidehills for miles.

Photo by Jason Hummel

Looking back at Mac Peak we were happy with our progress and felt prepared for the "challenging" parts of the traverse.

Photo by Jason Hummel

To our North was the North Cascades and a route that we still had to do from Glacier Peak to Highway 2, little did we know we would be doing this route a week later.

Photo by Kyle Miller

After our much needed rest it was time to head north and get to the crux of the trip.

photo by Jason Hummel

We made sure to follow a high bench so we could descend on to Trap Lake putting us in line with the PCT.

Photo by Jason Hummel

Once on the PCT it was just as I thought it would be steep and nasty snow sometime avi debris and other times absolute slush. In my typical fassion I had skin issues but slowly kept going on a race to beat the sunset. Like the days before we wanted to camp on another summit and be within striking distance of Stevens Pass.

Photo by Kyle Miller

Photo by Jason Hummel

We raced the light and finally made it to camp right at sunset. I was pretty beat after 3 miles of sidehilling but was happy to know that the only stuff in front of us was a flat land of dense trees two tiny passes and than the groomers of Stevens Pass ski resort.

Photo by Jason Hummel

DAY 4 The next day was a bit of a blur as it was a race agains't time. We had to make it to Stevens Pass early as we didn't have a car and would be hitch hiking west with the end results being Kent. The flat land was somewhat hard to navigate and we made good use of our GPS loosely following the PCT until we made our final backcountry descent to the groomers of Stevens backside. From here on we ran up the slopes deciding to keep it pure and not use the lifts finally descending to the parking lot a little after 2 p.m.

Photo by some random person using Jason's camera

The adventure is over with!!!!.....or so you would think. Next came the real adventure we would have to hitch hike over 100 miles with all our backcountry gear. It took almost a hour before we got our first ride, it was to Everett, not exactly where we were going but from there on out we could use public transportation.

Photo by Jason Hummel

From Everett we took an Express bus to downtown Seattle laughing at the blank looks we got from people.

Photo by Jason Hummel

Photo by Jason Hummel

Once in Seattle it was one more bus to head north to our friend Ben Starkey's house up on Aurora.

Photo by Jason Hummel

Photo by Jason Hummel

We had finally finished our trip making our way to Ben's where he was kind enough to give us a ride. And there was only one way to celebrate, by supporting our local community and buying a glass of ice cold lemonade.

Photo by Jason Hummel

A huge thanks goes to Jason Hummel for being a great partner over the years and producing top notch photography, please support him buy buying a print and/or purchasing his Adventure Journal. Thanks to Boot and Jason for the snowmobile ride and being great ski touring partners as it wouldn't have been possible without there help. Thanks to the random guy who picked us up at Stevens Pass. Thanks to the King County Metro system for being the King County metro System and thanks always goes to Ben Starkey for the ride back to Kent and being such a great touring partner.

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