Lake Ingalls + South Ingalls Peak Scramble
DATE HIKED: 8/4-5
TOTAL DISTANCE/ASCENT: 9 MILES AND 2,500 GAIN TO THE LAKE/ ADDITIONAL 2 MILES AND 1,000 GAIN TO SOUTH INGALLS PEAK
REQUIRED PERMIT: ATTAINED AT TRAILHEAD
DOG FRIENDLY: DOGS ALLOWED UNTIL HEADLIGHT BASIN/ NOT BEYOND THERE
LOCATION: ALPINE LAKES WILDERNESS
RECREATION PASS: NORTHWEST FOREST PASS
This was another summer weekend where there called to be rain everywhere and our original plans had to be scraped and we went through plans A,B,C and all the way to D. Plan D did not suck though!
The night before, Ryan and I found free dispersed camping on the road going into the trail (still about 25 minutes out or so from the trailhead.) There is tons of camping on this road and lots open for pulling in late as well. The road going into the trailhead is a little rough, but any car should make it just fine
We got to the trailhead at 7:00 and it was already full. You can park down the road on one side of it though. At the trailhead and many points on the trail, there are signs that say "no dogs beyond this point". Dogs are allowed up to Headlight Basin, but not after that. We saw many dogs. Please follow the rules so that we can continue to enjoy these places. There is camping allowed in the basin before the lake. No camping at the lake or within .5 mile from it. The basin is still a good distance from the lake, but there are many water sources and a toilet at the basin and a great view of Mt. Stuart!
It is a little bit of a scramble up to the lake. Amazing views of Stuart and Ingalls Peak once you get to the lake. It is very likely you will see goats in this area! We didn't see them on the way in, but saw them on the way out. We relaxed by the lake, Nikki (drawntohighplaces) painted and went swimming and then we gathered more water as there wouldn't be any water source at the top.
We had found a track online to follow up to South Ingall's peak. (Gaia always coming in clutch!) We followed it mostly. There are many entrance points for which you could start hiking up as there is no trail. There are rough cairins to follow throughout, which were helpful. We still needed to do a lot of navigating on our own as well. On our way up, we could see many people climbing Ingall's peak (a roped trad climb). After the saddle there is a tricky section. It seems you are stuck here and that you have 3 options, but really there are 2 options. Going right is not one of them. There is a keyhole you can climb through, which I did on the way down that required taking off our big packs for. You can also go left for a very exposed move, which I opted for going up. After this, the rest is very straight forward to the summit.
We saw in an old trip report on WTA of a bivy site up there and gambled on it to stay the night up there with no tent. It was there, but we had to build it out larger to be able to fit 2 people. If this spot was taken or you decided not to sleep here, there is a larger flat area just below the summit. There are no water sources up here so plan to bring it all up as well. Nikki put down her tarp and then we put our sleeping pads and sleeping bags on top! Hope for the night. I never though I would camp in the open like this, but when the perfect moment calls. The wind was minimal, the bugs died down and we enjoyed an amazing night under the starts. We even saw a meteor shower and the milky way. No rodents or any other animal bothered us in the night. We did hear a baby goat in the middle of the night.
The next morning we woke and Nikki continued to paint. We packed up and hiked out. It took much longer than expected to hike down. The terrain above the lake is rough and slow going. We saw the momma and baby goat on the way out as well! Giving them lots of space as we passed. Also, notice the photo of the Kula Cloth. My friend Anasastia has designed these with care and love to replace TP in the backcountry. It's reusable and environmentally friendly. Check out her website to learn more (https://kulacloth.com/) . I'll never go into the outdoors without it now!
This was my first time sleeping on a summit and likely not my last. Such a beautiful place to explore!