Last weekend I traveled to the Teanaway area east of Cle Elum to celebrate a friend’s birthday with some hiking outings of course! After spending lots of time there last year completing a hiking challenge, the Teanaway has quickly become one of my favorite places in Washington. The trails are endless, the views extraordinary, and it’s easy to find much appreciated solitude. The weather can be better here when conditions west of Snoqualmie Pass aren’t so nice. Well, usually.
Navajo Peak is one of the few Teanaway peaks I had yet to bag so when my friends said it was on their list for Friday I was stoked! The weather forecast called for a 20-30% chance of showers and the NOAA zone forecast for the area had the high at 42. Definitely the time of year to retire my small Salomon pack and break out the larger Osprey backpack. I stuffed it with several extra layers and raingear. Oh am I so glad for my foresight. A larger pack also meant more space for extra food and a platybladder of wine too. After all, we were celebrating a birthday!
I rolled into the Stafford Creek trailhead Friday morning and was greeted with steady rain. Nothing awful, but enough to make you think “do I really want to do a 13+ mile hike in this!?” Luckily my hiking partners were determined so we donned our rain gear and started moving. Most of the trail was a generally easy uphill grade and we made quick time and stayed warm.
Snow levels earlier in the week had dropped down to 5,500′ and I was curious if we’d encounter snow since we were headed to 7,200′. Shortly before Navajo Pass sure enough, we spied some fresh powder on a mountain top across from us. Winter is on its way!
As we rounded Navajo Pass the rain lightened and we were able to get a gorgeous glimpse of the Enchantments through the clouds and fog. And lots of fresh snow! In fact, I heard that a snowstorm hit the Enchantments the weekend prior, catching several hiking parties off guard including some friends of mine. It’s always a good reminder that extra gear is always a must, especially during shoulder seasons.
From Navajo Pass, the trails climbs a steady, steep one mile to the top of Navajo Peak. The terrain changes into a type of lunar landscape with what looks like nuggets of coal littering the trail. The footing is a bit loose, so trekking poles can be handy. Halfway up we encountered fresh snow and as we rounded the mountain we got a steady blast of cold wind.
Finally at the top we stopped long enough to snap our obligatory summit photos and then put on every single layer of clothing we brought. It was absolutely freezing up there and with zero views we high-tailed it back down as fast as we could. Despite wearing thick gloves (I was soooo happy I had packed an extra dry pair) I couldn’t feel my fingers again until we had gotten back down to the pass and out of the wind. Brrrrrrrrr!
As we were descending the peak we noticed the clouds blowing out and the weather clearing and sure enough, by the time we reached the pass we had beautiful views! We enjoyed a dry return trip through lovely forest with the rain returning only as we reached the trailhead and packed up to leave.
Given how many crazy steep hikes we’ve been doing, Navajo was a refreshingly “easy” one since you climb gradually over a lot of miles. The final push up to the peak requires some work but it’s short and the landscape is so different and fascinating it takes your mind off the climb.
I only wonder now how long it’ll be before we’re busting out the snowshoes!
Round Trip: 13.5 miles
Elevation Gain: ~4,200
High Point: 7,223
Hiking Time:: 6:00