Ingalls Creek Trail
Ingalls Creek is a long drive for us, 125 miles, over the mountains into eastern Washington near Leavenworth; however, a trail report mentioned orchids and other flowers so off we went. Some areas still have snow but except for a few tiny patches off to the side of the trail we did not have any. This was a 15 people, 3 dog day. The entire trail is 15 miles long but we were planning on a turn around point about 3 miles in to make a 6 mile round trip. All the driving is on pavement, no potholes or bumpy dirt/gravel road. There is a decent sized parking area and an outhouse at the trailhead. This is in the Alpine Wilderness area and a Forest Service pass is required.
In some places we had to crawl under or climb over downed trees like this one. On the way out we went under trying to avoid stepping in the mud pit. On the return trip we climbed up and around.
The starting elevation was 2,000 ft and we stopped at 2,900 ft but with the ups and downs it ended up being approximately a 1000 ft. gain. The trail is steep for the first mile or so and then levels off to be followed by some ups and downs. This is just over the line from an easy to a moderate level hike for me.
Ingalls Creek is really a river with a raging, roaring (almost deafening) torrent of white water fed by glacier melt and snowmelt. It would be foolhardy in the extreme to go into the water. The current is so strong this time of year one would be swept away in an instant and the water temperature would be close to freezing.
Evidence of forest fire
In some places the blackened remains of a forest fire was evident on tree trunks and downed timber. Oh, the wildflowers. It is impossible to overstate how many, how beautiful, and how many different kinds. Unbelievable numbers of Lupine on the hills, Arrowleaf balsam root and Arnica with their bright yellow showy flowers, calypso orchids again, Glacier lilies, Prairie Stars, Fairy bells, Elderberry, Groundsel, Vanilla leaf, both the Chocolate, also called Chocolate tips, and yellow Lomatium, also called Desert parsley, Orange, orange-red and yellow paintbrush, yellow stream violets, red current, trillium, bitter cherry, Service berry, Larkspur, wild sweet pea, Death camas, Mertensia, and Ballhead waterleaf. Bob counted 32 different kinds of flowers. We took way to many photos to share but below is a sampling of some of the flowers we saw. This trail is known to have flowers all during the hiking season from April to October; however, as the season progresses one has to hike higher up to see the them.
Arrowleaf Balsam root
Hillside covered in Lupine
Yellow and Orange Paintbrush
Red flowering currant
Trillium almost finished blooming hence the purple color
Chocolate tip lomatium
Footnote: We saw two young men panning for gold in the shallows near a camping spot. This area had been mined in the late 1800s so there are still a few small flakes and pieces that wash down from the mountain to find here and there. On the return trip the young men were no longer there so we couldn't ask them if they found anything but we stopped and scooped some sand out of the river bank and found a few flakes, highly magnified below. It brought back memories of panning and dredging for gold in Spanish Creek at the Dore's cabin.