Trip Report Foss Lakes High Route

I alluded to this trip in the Stoke Thread, https://www.washingtonflyfishing.com/forum/index.php?threads/166129/post-1724511 and now that I’m back, it’s time for a report.

After a wet weather system passed through, my buddy Jerry, my wife, and I loaded up a week’s worth of gear and headed out on the ever popular West Fork Foss trail. Day one took us to this beautiful, and since it was a Monday, relativey quiet lake.

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I’d packed along an 8.3oz Tenkara lake kit which works well enough in most circumstances. Sure enough, I hooked a few fish by the outlet, but being unable to keep them out of the woodpile, I LDR’d the first and broke off the second. Well, that’s no fun for me or the fish, so I hung it up for the night and got some rest for tomorrow’s adventure.

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From here, we scrambled a steep brushy ridge to the high country and saw no other people for the next 5 days. Day two we traversed rock, heather, and snow to the 5945’ point on the right.



Jerry and I headed off for the summit while my wife waited patiently in the shade. Before we hit the ridge proper, I turned around on steep exposed slabs that I’m sure I could have climbed up, but was not so sure I could have safely descended. Meanwhile Jerry, a youngster at 57, stormed on up.

After a lovely camp on high granite slabs, we scrambled a 6010’ peak above camp, traversed more heather, rocks, krumholz, and another 5890’ point to this beautiful unspoiled tarn on the ridgetop.

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From there we dropped 1000’ to the NW inlet of the biggest lake and another fishing opportunity. There were two small trout rising in the inlet stream and I knew from their wide open, exposed location that they’d be spooky and challenging. Sure enough the first one caught me sneaking up and bolted for cover, and the second, bigger fish decided something wasn’t right and refused my presentations. There were a few fish crusing the bay, and with enough time, I’d have managed to catch something, but we had more rough ground to cover that day.

Leaving the lake, we worked up a difficult steep gully to slabby benches and snow-fed tarn below 6286’ Camp Robber Peak for our fourth camp. Jerry and I scrambled the peak after dinner and enjoyed fine views of or next day’s route.

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A relatively easy day (including 6245’ Tourmaline Peak) took us to our final camp on the rocky bluff above this small lake; perfect for swimming, but fishless.



From there it was easy enough to drop another 400’ for an after dinner fishing opportunity at the lake at the south end of the chain.

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I missed a few dinks; too small to swallow a #16 Adams, and gave Jerry a fishing lesson. He too got a few rises, but was no more successful than I was. Again; with more time, I could probably have connected with some bigger fish that were crusing around, but the light was fading, camp was an uphill slog, and I needed to rest up for yet another big day tomorrow.

The next morning we started early and worked around the steep, tricky NW lake shore toward our destination, 6305’ Wild Goat Peak. Along the way I gently put my foot on a suspicious looking 1000# boulder and it crashed 4’ down into the lake. Had one of us been walking below it we could have had a disaster.

Wild Goat turned out to be pretty easy, and ‘only 1400’ of gain above the lake, so Jerry and I continued east along the high ridge dividing the Skykomish and Middle Fork Snoqualmie drainages. From there, I was able to drop down to this lake, which I will shamelessly hotspot: Crawford Lake. You’re welcome to go there, but it will take some effort, and don’t necessarily expect to catch anything. I didn’t see any sign of fish. Maybe theyre hanging around the outlet, maybe not.

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From Crawford it’s another 700’ back up over the ridge, down 800’ to the Foss lake, and back up another 400’ to camp and our last night out. It’s been a long day and a long week, and tomorrow’s hike out is no casual stroll, one more rocky ridge to traverse and many a trail mile back to the cars.



All in all it was a great trip. Oh sure, it was hot, buggy, and at times smoky- and if you’re keeping score, I didn’t land a single fish. But this was a bucket list trip for me, and I’m so lucky to live in such an awesome place and to still be able to do adventures like this.
 
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djl

Member
My dad grew up near that area in a mountain logging and railroad town and hiked the area in the 30's. He took us up there in the 50's. I hiked it in the 60's and again in the 90's. My brother and I scattered our dad's ashes in one of the largest lakes, his favorite and named after a water animal, in the 2000's. It is beautiful country. Thanks for sharing. It brought back memories.
 

Philonius

WFF Premium
My dad grew up near that area in a mountain logging and railroad town and hiked the area in the 30's. He took us up there in the 50's. I hiked it in the 60's and again in the 90's. My brother and I scattered our dad's ashes in one of the largest lakes, his favorite and named after a water animal, in the 2000's. It is beautiful country. Thanks for sharing. It brought back memories.
Thanks for the memories. I haven’t been to that particular lake…. Yet. It’s such a spectacular, beautiful area, but so very heavily used now. ‘Must have been so cool when it was practically untouched. Do you recall what the trail system was like in the 50’s? Did it go in as far as a big coronary lake? I’m really impressed with the effort that must have gone into trail building back in the day.
 
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djl

Member
Thanks for the memories. I haven’t been to that particular lake…. Yet. It’s such a spectacular, beautiful area, but so very heavily used now. ‘Must have been so cool when it was practically untouched. Do you recall what the trail system was like in the 50’s? Did it go in as far as a big coronary lake? I’m really impressed with the effort that must have gone into trail building back in the day.
The trail system went up to the big coronary lake but I am not sure about the steps up to it from the first lake on the trail. They were certainly there in the 60's. The lake to the water animal is still a bushwhack trip, at least it was around 2010. There was a trail but it was easy to get off course and a narrow ledge on a cliff had to be traversed. We did encounter another group up there, though.
 

Philonius

WFF Premium
The trail system went up to the big coronary lake but I am not sure about the steps up to it from the first lake on the trail. They were certainly there in the 60's. The lake to the water animal is still a bushwhack trip, at least it was around 2010. There was a trail but it was easy to get off course and a narrow ledge on a cliff had to be traversed. We did encounter another group up there, though.
Cool. All the kids are now following GPS tracks on their Fukkin' phones, and it's too easy for wankers to go everywhere. My wife and I deliberately choose to go with map, compass, and experience. I've been scoping out a traverse above mammal lake and over into the adjacent valley. Maybe find another lake or two along the way, maybe a few more stunning viewpoints.
 

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