A few weeks ago we ventured into the Teanaway Wild and kind of fell in love with it. The snow melts a little sooner in its rocky rustic terrain and the sun often shines a little brighter as well. So, this weekend when a rainy forecast messed with our grand plans to pack up the kids and trek them into the woods for our traditional Packwood Lake outing, we ditched them (the kids and the plans) and headed back that way again.
The weather wasn’t brilliant, even in the hills east of our mountains. But, it wasn’t suppose to rain. So we made the two hour drive to the Esmerelda Basin trailhead early Friday morning to get a jump start on this epic hike that draws an epic crowd. Instead of heading to Lake Ingalls the traditional way, we took the long road instead, heading up to Longs Pass first, then dipping down into the lush green valley where Ingalls Creek runs wild, to a pretty little meadow just below the cliffs that cradle the coveted Lake Ingalls in it’s arms. Our timing and route were aimed at dodging the crowds and finding that solitude in the mountains that our hearts really long for. And although I was dragging the whole way up and down and up again we found what we were looking for.
Its not always easy getting to where you want to be in life. But, once you are there it is always worth it.
Longs Pass is the path less traveled when adventuring off into the wild via the Esmerelda Basin Trailhead and it boasts one of the most prodigious views of Mt Stuart out there. Legends tell of a face to face reckoning with Stuey that will leave you awestruck and amazed. But, once you make the climb and find your senses once again you only have a couple options. You can traverse your way over to Ingalls Pass, if you are used to bisecting passes and making your own way, go back the way you came and call it a day, or dip down into the valley and meet up with the Ingalls Creek Trail. Ingalls Creak Trail rambles 14 miles below the Stuart Range and if you follow it all the way to the end you’ll meet up with Lake Ingalls, one of the most popular lakes in the Alpine Wilderness. But, the rugged trail taking you from Longs Pass to Ingalls Creek drops you off just 1.2 miles from the coveted gem and if you are lucky you can spend the day nestled in a meadow just below it’s cliffs gazing up at Ingalls Peak (there is no camping allowed within a half mile of the lake itself) and the regal mountain goats that meander along it’s rocky scape ~ with Mt Stuart bolding blazing behind you. Ingall’s Creak Trail continues on up from the meadow to Lake Ingalls which will leave you smitten. You can make your way around the lake, even its still hugged in with snow, if you follow it around to the right where it eventually connects to the more heavily tread upon path #1390 which literally drops you back down the other side, ushers you over Ingall’s Pass and then down a bit more a bit more before it completes your loop and leads you back down to the, likely overflowing, Esmerelda Trailhead.
There was a boot path in the snow along this side of the lake. But, once we put on our Yaktrax and made it around the bend we realized the lake had melted too much and where others had walked before we would sink.
Esmerelda Trailhead to Our Meadow ~ 6 miles
Roundtrip up to the lake ~ 1 mile
Total – 7 miles
Our meadow up to the lake ~ 1/2 mile
Detour – maybe another mile?
Ingalls Lake back down to the trailhead ~ 5.5 miles
Total – 7 miles
Total Miles ~ 14, plus some miscellaneous wanderings:)