back to Picket Range Traverse

The first map is an overview of the whole trip, which started from Ross Lake and ended at the Goodell Creek trailhead, where we left a car. The closely packed-together days 3,4,5 and 6 indicate the difficulty of the terrain. I’ve marked Luna and McMillan Creeks on the map, which drain the Northern and Southern Picket circs respectively. Those valleys are filled with inpenatrable brush that can require days of exhausting effort to travel a mile, and formed an effective barrier to thoughts of “bailing out!”

Day 1 began with an exhilarating water taxi ride and a sally forth full of energy and laughter. By mile 12 or so, we were a bit more subdued, having already made too many optimistic predictions of how far we’d travelled to engage in more speculation. One foot in front of the other in miles of deep forest, our packs at their heaviest. Beaver Pass was “crowded” with two other parties, also heading up Wiley Ridge with us the next day. Our forest camp was gloomy and damp, but warm food brought us joy.

The brushy climb up to Wiley Ridge, infamous site of my hornet attack. After a few hours work we gained the high heather country, and our first views of the Northern Pickets. It’s easy to get suckered into travelling too low, but we found that hitting Eiley and Wiley Lakes was a prudent choice.

Now we’ve reached the “red meat” of the expedition. First a warm-up climb of Mt. Challenger, then a drop into the Luna Creek Hole, where we listened to crashing glaciers all night. We only travelled a mile on day 4, but it was a steep one!

Getting down from Mt. Fury took longer than we expected, but we still didn’t regret “sleeping in” until 9 am on the summit snow ridge. Stressful downclimbs of steep snow and ice sapped our energy, and we only bucked up on reaching Picket Pass and finding water. Were we ready for Terror the next day?

It felt so great to look down the southern valleys, no more walls in front of us. We gorged the last of our food at camp below southern walls, then started down, full of trepediation about the trip down to Terror Creek, which Aidan fell into, somewhat marring our victory dance!