Hike of the Week for Friday, July 9, 2010
A pair of aquatic gems deep in the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness
Article and photo by Craig Romano
Find a fortune of peace and solitude
at the Fortune Ponds.
Location: Skykomish River Valley
Land Agency: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Roundtrip: 13.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,700 feet
Access: From Everett head east on US 2 for 50 miles to Skykomish turning left onto the Beckler River Road (FR 65). Continue north for 6.9 miles to pavement’s end and a three way junction. Turn right onto FR 6530 and continue for 4.5 miles to trailhead.
Notes: Northwest Trail Pass required.
Contact: Skykomish Ranger District: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest; (360) 677-2414; www.fs.fed.us/r6/mbs
Green Trails Map: Benchmark Mtn- No. 144
The Fortunes are just two of the many riches to be found in the Henry M Jackson Wilderness, an area encompassing over 100,000 acres of prime Central Cascades backcountry. Named for Everett native, Senator “Scoop” Jackson, this region of old-growth forests, alpine lakes, and sprawling meadows was one of his favorite places in the Washington backcountry. The Fortune Ponds via the Meadow Creek Trail allows you to experience this special section of the Cascades in relative solitude.
Beginning in second growth forest, the trail immediately starts climbing. Soon enter the Wild Sky Wilderness, established in 2008. The surrounding forest succumbed to fire in 1967 but it is recovering well. In about 2.0 miles the grade eases as you enter the Jackson Wilderness where the forest transforms into magnificent old-growth.
Continue up the Meadow Creek Valley passing slopes bearing countless avalanche scars. Snow often lingers long along the creek’s west banks at the base of these chutes. At about 3.5 miles cross the creek, getting your boots wet in the process. Then continue up the valley alongside the gurgling creek. At about 4.5 miles cross the creek again; this time in a marshy low pass.
Prepare to once again steeply climb. As forest cover thins, the grade eases as you now traverse huckleberry patches and heather meadows. Views open up north to miles of sprawling alpine meadows draping the Cascade Crest. At 6.5 miles your long journey into the wilderness comes to an end as the Lower Fortune Pond is reached.
Perched in a small bowl, waterfall fed and surrounded by parkland meadow, the ambience at Lower Fortune is quite serene. Remove boots, soak feet, lie back and let the soothing and healing powers of nature caress you.
To reach the Upper Fortune Pond, continue up trail for another .25 mile. Then leave it in a southwesterly direction through semi-open forest. After a little brush crashing arrive at the attractive and tranquil body of water.
For information on lodging and other attractions near the North Fork Skykomish River visit www.snohomish.org.